“It was [Geta’s] habit to pose questions to grammarians, for instance, how they might name the way various animals make sounds: sheep bleat, pigs grunt, doves coo, boars grunt, boars growl, lions roar, leopards sneer, elephants sound horns, frogs croak, horses whinny, donkeys bray, bulls low. He would prove each of these with ancient writers.”
Familiare illi fuit has quaestiones grammaticis proponere, ut dicerent singula animalia quomodo vocem emitterent, velut: agni balant, porcelli grunniunt, palumbes minurriunt, porci grunniunt, ursi saeviunt, leones rugiunt, leopardi rictant, elephanti barriunt, ranae coaxant, equi hinniunt, asini rudunt,1 tauri mugiunt, easque de veteribus adprobare.
It seems likely to me that Ancient Greek pigs said γρῦ γρῦ
“goggrusai: to make noise like a pig”
γογγρύσαι· ὡς χοῖρος φωνῆσαι
“The noise of a pig
γρύλλη· ὑῶν φωνή
Cf. Photius gogggruzein and grulizein: “swine sounds”
“Among Attic speakers gru is used to describe something small and accidental. For they call both the dirt under a fingernail gru and the bric-a-brac of a home grutaria. The man who sells the bric-a-brac is a grutopolos.”
I have been thinking about the ‘reconstruction’ of animal noises from verbs that represent them–here ὀγκάομαι, like many alpha-contract verbs is denominative. So, I figured I could just reconstruct a ὀγκ- ὀγκ to represent donkey sounds based on the abstract noun above and the verb form. Beekes is not completely down with that:
I don’t know if I can resist believing that this verb is zoophonetic (based on the animal sound). Even if it does have another etymology, that does not mean that it was not adapted to this context because of a serendipitous similarity to the donkey’s bray…
There are some other details about donkey sounds that are, perhaps, worth knowing.
“brômasthai: ongkasthai: this is used for donkey speech. Ongkasthai is also used, but that is more infrequent.”