Tomorrow is Midsommarafton, or Midsummer’s Eve, in Sweden. It is one of the most important holidays of the year over here and though I’ve never participated in a celebration quite like those in the link, they were close. It’s a fun time and the kids love it. This year we’ll celebrate with friends and skip the maypole dancing, but we will have strawberry cake!

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Copyright Cas Blomberg
SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Copyright Cas Blomberg

When I think of midsummer, I think of family and good friends. I think of sunshine and laughter. I think of fish (which I don’t eat) and potatoes (I do eat those). These days, I also think of little frogs. For those of you who haven’t heard the famous midsummer song about frogs, here are the lyrics:

Små Grodorna

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.

Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack.

kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,

kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

———————–

(English translation provided for your benefit. Obviously, they only sing the Swedish version)

The small frogs, the small frogs are funny to see.

The small frogs, the small frogs are funny to see.

No ears, no ears, no tails have they.

No ears, no ears, no tails have they.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,

kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,

kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

———————————-

I moved to Sweden in May of 2008. Which means by the time my first midsummer experience rolled around, I had been here for a grand total of less than one month. The extent of my Swedish vocabulary was limited, to say the least. I could say, ‘Jag älskar dig’ (I love you), with a very American accent, and ‘champinjoner’ (mushrooms). No, I don’t have a fascination with fungus. I just loved the way the word sounded, so I went around repeating it for weeks. Actually, months would be more accurate.

When my husband told me this song, Små Grodorna, was about frogs, I was so confused. Frogs don’t ko-ack, kwak, or quack. Ducks quack. I’ve heard them. Everyone’s heard them, right? Quack-quack. Even the master of animal sounds, Old MacDonald, agrees. Ducks quack.

Frogs? Frogs ribbit.

Then I did some digging and found out I was partially wrong–and partially right. Turns out, frogs are as individual as people. Check out some of these international frog sounds from around the world:

Afrikaans: kwaak-kwaak

Chinese (Mandarin): guo guo

Dutch: kwak kwak

English (USA): ribbit

English (GB): croak

French: coa-coa

German: quaak, quaak

Italian: cra cra

Japanese: kerokero

Korean: gae-gool-gae-gool

Russian: kva-kva

Spanish (Argentina): berp

Spanish (Peru): croac, croac

Swedish: koack

Turkish: vrak vrak

Ukrainian: kwa-kwa

Some of these buggers sound familiar despite their geographic location. Russian frogs and African frogs aren’t that different, are they? In fact, many of the frogs on the list have some variation of ‘kva’ or ‘kwa’ or ‘vra’. I could even see ‘berp’ as a natural frog sound.

Which begs the question, where on earth did ‘ribbit’ come from?

If you guessed movies, slap a gold star on your forehead. Hollywood recorded sounds of the Pacific tree frog, the famous frog that ribbits, and stuck them in movies to create authenticity in their nighttime scenes and background noise.

It’s interesting how something as simple as that can have an impact on us. I’m not from California and we didn’t have a TV when I was a child. I was one of those kids that grew up outside all the time, or hidden in a corner with a book. I don’t remember watching much of anything as I grew up. I didn’t go to the movies that often, either. Yet in my mind, frogs ‘ribbit’, loudly.

RIBBIT!

What about you? What do frogs say in your neck of the woods?

 

2 thoughts on “Frogs that Quack

  1. Reading what you said about frogs, I could not help thinking about my poem, The Lay of Lord Florg Fletchley Belch, which was inspired by the frogs who live in my back garden pond. It can be found on my web site, if you would like to read it. It was interesting to read how Midsummer is celebrated in Sweden. During the summer I spent in Norway in 1973, I went over the border to Sweden and have good memories of its forests and lakes.

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    1. I love the abundance of nature here in Sweden, and in the summer it’s so green! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such vibrant colors. Maybe after the cold winters, I’ve learned to appreciate the colors more. It’s funny how the little things that surround us, inspire us sometimes, isn’t it? I’ll have to stop over and take a look at that poem :).

      Like

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