Does "moo-moo/mumu" = "dog" in some language? Or is it something worse?
June 20, 2014 4:42 AM   Subscribe

A small child seemed very excited to see my wife and I walking our dogs in the park. She pointed at us and exclaimed, "Moo-Moo, Moo-moo," over and over. At first we thought, she was happy about the dogs. Then we started joking that moo-moo was actually Korean for fat, white people. (We only guess she was Korean. We're not particularly overweight, but we are white Americans, so...). We couldn't find any Asian translations of moo-moo/mumu that make sense. Any ideas? (Snarky comments/suggestions welcome.)
posted by rough to Writing & Language (12 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This has a few problems... it seems there are some ethnic presumptions and/or jokes that are not going to help get a good answer (and snarky comments are definitely not what Ask Metafilter is for). Please contact us soonish if you'd like to edit this to work better here. Thanks. -- taz

Kids make up words for objects sometimes before they get the hang of actual talking. You might just be trying to translate "toddler-ese."
posted by chiababe at 4:52 AM on June 20, 2014


Other languages have vastly different onomatopoeia for animal noises.

She's a toddler. My uncle called my mom (Dee) Doo-Doo until he was five.
posted by phunniemee at 4:55 AM on June 20, 2014

Don't cows go "Moo"?
posted by miorita at 4:56 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

My nephew identifies all animals as woof-woofs. He also only knows the sign language for bird, so he has, on occasion, seen a cat, then yelled "woof woof!" and signed "bird!"

Kids are weird, yo.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:56 AM on June 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sometimes dogs are called mo-mo-gau in Cantonese where mo = fur and gau = dog, altogether meaning furry dog. Not sure if there's a Korean equivalent.
posted by lucia_engel at 5:00 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

She may have a dog at home she calls Moo-Moo, therefore all dogs are Moo-Moo to her. (It was likely the dogs that caught her attention. Dogs are appealing to small children, and she's probably seen a kajillion white Americans of varying degrees of heftiness by now.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:01 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

In Korea dogs go "mong mong," so a common way to refer to dogs is "mong mong eee" (~creature that barks), kind of like Fido in the U.S., say.

(and cows in Korea go um-meeeeh, not moo).
posted by needled at 5:08 AM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Koreans say dogs barking as "mung mung", and also sometimes use mung mung to refer to the actual animal. My two year old daughter cant actually say mung, so she says something like "mau mau" instead. Close enough to moo moo?
posted by Literaryhero at 5:10 AM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

A toddler on the street once pointed at my dog and said "Moooo". I took it to be a statement about my dog's weight. Also, my dog was a tricolour beagle, which meant the markings aren't that cow-inconsistent. But maybe she was just saying dog. Anyway, that's another data point that sometimes toddlers point at dogs and say "Mooo."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:26 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

My brother, so goes the family lore, used to call all mammals Isaac after the name of the family dog. Once he was stuck in a camel stampede strapped in his stroller which had bogged down in the sand in Iran and when the animals were gone and my parents came to pull him out he was frozen in fear with eyes as big as saucers and all he would say is, "BIG Isaac!"

Maybe his grandma's dog is Mumu?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:29 AM on June 20, 2014 [15 favorites]

There seems to be a line of "Mumu Dog" Playstation carrying cases [image search] for all different types of PS handhelds, for what it's worth. Seems to be an Asian brand? I'm not sure if it's based on a specific game or cartoon character, or if it's just that brand's logo. Maybe the kid plays lots of handheld games and that's where she picked it up from?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:47 AM on June 20, 2014

My toddler son says "woof woof" when he sees a dog. He would likely say "moo" if he ever saw a live cow. He could very easily get the two confused.
posted by amro at 6:47 AM on June 20, 2014

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