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In North America the Aesop fable about the tortoise and the Hare is well known, and glyphs of a tortoise (turtle) and hare (rabbit) are understood to represent varying speeds.

Is this generally the case cross-culturally?

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The flaw there, however, is that the turtle finished the race faster than the hare. – DA01 Sep 26 '13 at 22:09
Ha - very true. But the fable works as a story because it's based on the assumption that rabbits = speed and turtles = slowness. – Matt Sep 26 '13 at 22:14
Hare != Rabbit. Is the any reason you need to write in hieroglyphs? – Brendon Sep 26 '13 at 23:59
Which cultures are you thinking of? – Alex Feinman Sep 27 '13 at 15:07

Perhaps in spite of Aesop's fable they might be understood, but only as long as the users are familiar with rabbits and turtles and their relative speeds IRL. You also have to keep in mind that some cultures hold various animals in either very high regard, or as despicable and unclean, and you wouldn't want that to influence the way your users experience your site/app/whatever-the-context-is. I don't know the specifics for all cultures + turtles and rabbits, so you'd want to do user testing for sure.

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To give you a good example, RockShox suspension for Bicycle uses icon of a hare and tortoise to denote the speed of the rebound for their suspension.

Slower (tortoise) or Faster (Hare)

To answer to your question, I believe tortoise (turtle) and hare (rabbit) are understood to represent varying speeds cross culture.

enter image description here

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Same as a Honda lawnmower. Turtle and Rabbit. – Bart Gijssens Sep 27 '13 at 9:33
Same as Endomondo sports tracker app - your fastest split for a run or a bike ride marks the time with a rabbit icon, and your slowest split's time is marked with a turtle icon. – LindaBrammer Sep 27 '13 at 14:17
Technically your image doesn't depect a hare/rabbit... It's clearly a mythical jakalope :) – Jamesh Sep 27 '13 at 19:51

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