At times, life is strangely kind. This time, it was both kind and strange. Foxes became a hot internet meme, and in an… unexpected way.
In case you missed it, here’s the Norwegian music video, “The Fox.”
Not gonna lie, I love this on many levels — the beautifully cliché videography, the formulaic song progression, the dancing, the auto-tuned howling, the nutty costumes. I’m all over this. But even more…. I know the answer.
I know what the fox says.
Years ago I started gathering fox sounds along with my other research for Kitsune-Tsuki and Kitsune-Mochi. Foxes are pretty cool creatures, not to be messed with. They don’t make the Old MacDonald playlist very often, but they have an intriguing array of vocalizations.
They do have barks and yips very like other canids, so these should sound familiar.
And there are some sounds unique to foxes, chirps and yips and squeaks.
The most haunting fox sounds, however, are the ones that sound like a human cry. My husband once woke to screaming outside and went out looking for a woman in distress, but found no one. He called me later (I was traveling), and I told him it was likely a fox. Listen (the first one takes a few seconds) and you’ll understand:
This human-like scream hasn’t found its way into a Kitsune Tale — yet.
And then, foxes can make a few sounds which lend a certain surprising credibility to Ylvis’ music video….
There is a folk etymology of the word kitsune as representing “kitsu,” the sound a fox might make. However there’s no evidence that foxes were ever held to make the sound “kitsu,” and the only item I’ve found suggests that foxes in Japan say “kon-kon” or “gon-gon.” Which, indeed, is a passable transcription for a red fox’s mating call.
Dog goes woof, cat goes meow, and the fox says kon-kon. And now you know.