Cats Crieth "Nau Nau" And Other Early Modern Animal Sounds

Hannah Keyser /

“Come, boy, learn to be wise,” opens Chapter 1 of Orbis Sensualium Pictus, or A World Of Things Obvious to the Senses Drawn in Pictures by John Comenius.

Originally published in Latin and German in 1658, it is widely considered to be the first children's picture book. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it became a popular textbook throughout Europe and was translated into many languages. The opening line above comes from a 1705 edition that includes both English and Latin. Over the course of several dozen chapters, Comenius imparts wisdom on all matters of flora, fauna, anatomical making and daily life of mankind, not to mention theological metaphysics and religious philosophy. But before tackling such lofty subjects, Orbis tackles more common fare for picture books: the alphabet and animal sounds.

Remember, the letter that looks a little like an elongated lowercase "f" is actually an "s," so that's an "asse" that brayeth "y y y," not an "affe."