Die Tiere auf Deutsch

This was highlighted in a tw**t from Tamsin Edwards, via Matthew Cobb. It’s accurate, as far as I know.

BobhONdCUAAW6Xo

I love “Meerschweinchen” (“little ocean pig”) as the name for guinea pig. Where did that come from? And “Lazy animal” for “sloth” is great.

Which reminds me of a story: A city girl was visiting a farm for the first time, and, given a tour, saw a group of pigs around their trough, noisily slurping their slop.  “Ewww!”, she said. “No wonder they call them pigs!”

 

121 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Animals are way easier in German. I didn’t know that Dugong had a different name in German, but I can see confusing it with a guinea pig (see vs. meer). Too bad cows weren’t included since the manatee (the northern relative of the dugong) is Seekuh.

    • mental reservation
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I just looked it up at Wikipedia. Dugong is the common name in German, but you can also call them Seeschwein or Gabelschwanzseekuh (fork tail sea cow). Where is your Meerschweinchen now?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        I guess the squee I get with guinea pigs would allow me to remember the chen. Otherwise I’d just mix those up. I will stick with Dugong. Maybe a baby dugong would be Seeschweinchen and we’d really be screwed!

      • merilee
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Love the Gabelschwanzseekuh!!! Now to remember it…Wouldn’t it be cool if it also gobbled?

        • mental reservation
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          Well, we need a way to distinguish dugongs from manatees, don’t we? What could be easier than call the former Gabelschwanzseekühe and the latter ones Rundschwanzseekühe?

    • compuholio
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      This is not only the case for animals. It is also true for many technical items. I never noticed this until an American friend of mine pointed this out to me what he likes to call his “caveman german” theory.

      Flugzeug – fly stuff
      Fahrzeug – drive stuff
      Wasserfahrzeug – water drive stuff
      Werkzeug – work stuff

      It works for a huge variety of different things.

      It usually takes an outsider to point out the ideosyncracies of a language. But it is always very entertaining when somebody does. For example I always enjoyed Mark Twain’s essay: “The awful german language”.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

        I think it would be the same in English if it weren’t for the influx of other languages, esp. French which brought us a crap load of Latin words and different words for food.

        • merilee
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

          And of course some languages don’t seem to have
          words for certain new-to-them objects. The young Ukranians who installed a new window well to fix my daughter’s basement flooding issue were going “blah blah blah weeping tiles blah blah blah blah blah weeping tiles…” They said they did not know the word in Ukranian.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:16 am | Permalink

            Were they Ukranians who had been here a while? I had a Ukrainian friend growing up (whose mother used to ask her “why can’t you be friends with a nice Ukranian girl” when I came to her house) and when she talked to her mom she would through in the English words she didn’t know.

            Being good at languages and body language before I knew it, I knew what was going on – esp when she was expressing her disappointment at the weird mixed girl (me) with the non Ukrainian name. :)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

        I think it would be the same in English if it weren’t for the influx of other languages, esp. French which brought us a crap load of Latin words and different words for food.

      • merilee
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        That Mark Twain piece is a hoot!

  2. merilee
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful!!! Yes, where in the world did they get Meer for guinea pigs. Never heard of them going anywhere near the sea.

    • Latverian Diplomat
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I’m wondering if the better translation would be “little pig from overseas”. Since guinea pigs come from South America.

  3. mental reservation
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    “Trut” has no meaning in German and “Hahn” means cock, so the translation of Truthahn as threatening chicken looks a bit odd. The rest is correct. For the dugong, Seekuh (sea cow) is more common than sea pig, though.

    And yes, “Meerschweinchen” sounds strange even if you’re used to it!

    • Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      I can confirm this. According to Wiktionary, the Truthahn is onomatopoeically named (after the sound it makes), or how 16th century Germans heared it: trut. Hahn means rooster and is a generic term, with the female form, for various birds in the order Galliformes, and shows perhaps a sense of folk-taxonomy before Linnaeus showed up. The female form is Huhn (cf. hun), and also means just chicken. The grey partridge is for example a Rebhuhn, which is incidentially also named onomatopoeical (i.e. a type of chicken that makes a ‘reb’ sound).

      • sparc
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        You should be aware that German ditinguishes three genera although in the case of chicken the use of “das Huhn” is somehow arbitrary. In principle it is the Netrum form which refers to both sexes. The correct German term for a female chicken is “die Henne”.

      • Siegfried Gust
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        “ein Truthahn” refers only to male turkeys,a female turkey is “eine Pute”

      • CFM
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        My etymological dictionary says “Trut” is derived from the the “mittelniederdeutsch” Middle Low German?) verb “droten”. The modern form ist “drohen” – this translates as “to threaten”.

        “Hahn”, as has already been said, is the male form. For me, having learnt British English at school, the translation would be “threatening cock”, not “threatening chicken”..

        • CFM
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, should have read Monikas comment before posting..

    • Rory
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      As a Dutch speaker, “truthahn” made me giggle. “Trut” in Dutch is a swear word used in anger against a woman, and “haan” is a homonym for the German “hahn”. So essentially it means “b*tchc*ck”.
      (Apologies if such language is unwelcome here – I mean no offence).

      • Merilee
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Lol!

      • Bethlenfalvy
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Well, as it comes to a Dutch person’s complaints about the cost of the “huren”, it is probably the German who giggles.

        • merilee
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

          I may have told this story before of my Norwegian friend who came over to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in the early 60s to work on some Viking digs. They found some oars and the locals got really excited because they tend to drop their “H”s like Cockneys and thought that some Viking whores had been dug up…

    • Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      The “Kluge” (Etymologisches Wörterbuch) says Trut is most likely derived from middlelowgerman “droten” to threaten, oldenglish has “TrUtian” to swell with anger or pride.
      So threatening chicken is about right.

  4. Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    There’s also that curious cousin of Die Fledermaus: Der fliegende Holländer. Surprisingly closely related, too! And they both trace their ancestry through Die Zauberflöte….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • merilee
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      pa-pa-pa-paaaaa

      • Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        A good test of one’s age and / or musical experiences is whether one sees that and thinks of this or this

        Cheers,

        b&

        • merilee
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          clearly my age (and musical tastes) are showing through with Papagena;-) Apparently some crazy in Ottawa up in the top balconies started Papaing back to Papageno on stage and practically climbing over the sides…Her section mates had to drag her back…

          • Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            Might have helped improve the gene pool to have been slightly less than perfectly vigilant in restraining her….

            b&

            • Merilee
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              :-)

        • Merilee
          Posted May 30, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          Testing…

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m now obsessed with the etymology of meerschweinchen. I see from Wikipedia in German that it is postulated it came from Spanish sailors brought them by sea to Europe.

    As with the English name, I’m sure there are lots of theories.

    • een
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I think there are a few animals with English common names alluding to the fact that they are “foreign”, but in some vague way. Like turkey, and guinea pigs. Neither of which come from the countries named, but somewhere “overseas”.

      A friend of mine who speaks Dutch told me that their word for guinea pig translates as “Chinese pig”.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        At least everyone seems to agree on the pig part in guinea pig. It seems French is the same as English: Guinée porc

        • mccomish
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          I’ve never come across the term Guinée porc, and it’s a pretty awkward construction, so I’m guessing it’s just a bad literal translation from the English.

          The common French name is Cochon d’Inde (cochon meaning pig, so they do still agree with that), but they also use Cobaye, which apparently comes from a Tupi-Guarani word. It’s interesting that all the pig-based variants seem to include different place names, none of which are where the things actually come from!

      • Merilee
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        And danishes ( the pastry) are dalled either norwegians or swedes ( can’t remember which) in Denmark.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Now I know where the swedish “marsvin” comes from. “Mar” is distantly telling of (bad or perhaps huge) water, so the gm etymology helps to grok the swedish stolen term too.

      Sw “kalkon” for turkey is not grokkable though, I have to check that.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        “Kalkon” is from dutch “kalkoen”, a shortening of “kalkon höna” ["kalkon" hen].

        It seems to be another term of “animal from afar”: the east indian city of Kalikut has been used to point to an ‘indian hen’ because of mistaken identity. (Cmp fr: coq d’Inde, dinde; en: turkey, bird from Turkey !?).
        [ http://runeberg.org/svetym/0380.html ]

        _Now_ it’s grokkable. Barely…

  6. Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Of course, in English half the insects are called XYZ-fly even if they are completely unrelated to flies, and most marine animals are XYZ-fish even if they belong to a completely different phylum:

    Libelle = dragonfly
    Schmetterling = butterfly
    Leuchtkäfer = firefly
    Seestern = starfish
    Muschel = shellfish
    Sepia = cuttlefish
    etc.

    Every language has its oddities that the native speaker doesn’t notice…

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I like centipede: der Hundertfüßer. It makes total sense but because the English uses foreign words (Latin), it is funny to hear it make sense like we should hear it in English. I blame 1066.

      • Craig Gallagher
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Centipede is definitely a good one.

        Jerboa; die Wustenspringmaus (desert jumping mouse) has always been one of my favourite German animal words.

        • merilee
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          Is millipede Millefußer, or some such?

          • Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            Tausendfüßler, although the ones that have two segments fused into one are called Schnurfüßer and the short ones that can roll up are Saftkugler (juice-ballers, for some reason).

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

              I didn’t know there were different sorts of millipedes.

              • lkr
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

                Diana — get thee to Wikipedia. Millipedes are “mega-diverse, but understudied”, with at least 12K described species and maybe 70K yet to be described. Numerous subclasses, orders, families, lots of cool [and nasty] biochemistry.

                Too bad the huge Carboniferous millipedes didn’t make it to present — they would have been great “pets”, big enough for little kids to ride on. Perhaps Skutzenhunnertfussern? [Pardon me if that's copyrighted by Ikea..]

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

                Haben well that’s OK that the huge exoskeleton endowed animals of the Carboniferous can’t live today. Scorpions would be awful!

            • Merilee
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

              What’s the Schnurf mean?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

                Schnur = string, rope (that sort of thing)

              • Merilee
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

                Thx. Like Schnurlregen? Love that word!

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            Mille is Latin. German says the more sensible Tausendfüßler. :)

            • Merilee
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

              You’re absolutely right, Diana, about Tausend, but don’t think there’s an el in Füßer. This is such fun:-)

              • Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                Well, something sure is fubar….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

                No there is an “l” for some reason. I googled it. Alex SL also spells it with the “l” and he’s the German!

              • Latverian Diplomat
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

                Both are correct. Not sure how the l got in there, maybe a dialect variation, but both spellings are in both my dictionary and de.wiktionary.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                Yeah my Englisch-Deutsch Taschenwörtebuch doesn’t have the “L” and my super old 1958 Cassell’s German and English dictionary just says der Tausendfüß. Then I tried my BlackBerry (it has German installed) and it says Tausendfüßler.

                Very odd.

              • Alex
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:54 am | Permalink

                Tausendfüßler to me sounds like a southern german dialect variety of the word.

                But I think it is sensible to stick to “Tausendfüßler” rather than “Tausendfüßer”, just to make sure that people don’t think we are talking about a 304 meter long animal :-D

        • mental reservation
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          Also nice is the squirrel:
          * Eichhörnchen (oak croissant or little oak horn)
          * Eichkätzchen (oak kitten, only in southern Germany)

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

            Oak kitten!!!! Awwwww.

          • Merilee
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            I learned Eichhörnchen while admiring sqrls with some German hikers in Arches National Park. And, no, I did not confuse them by spelling it sqrls:-)

            • ecphorizer
              Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

              Time to jump in here with a semi-OT comment merging “squirrel” with German.

              There’s a YouTube video of Germans trying their best to pronounce “squirrel,” without much success. The difficulty lies in trying to handle the semi-vowel sound of the American “r”.

              • merilee
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

                I’ve seen that video and I love it! I find that even Brits have trouble with the American/Canadian pronunciation of squirrel, which really is closer to sqrl;-)

      • MikeN
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        There’s the old saying that centipedes are called that not because they have one hundred feet but because most people can’t count past fourteen.

        • Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          LOL
          The 1000 in Tausendfüß(l)er simply means “OMG so many feet, can’t count them, it must be at least 1000″
          The 100 in Hundertfüß(l)er means “OMG so many feet, can’t count them, but it looks less than the feet on a Tausendfüß(l)er, so it must be 100″

          In medieval German literature 1000 is used to denote a huge – uncountable number of things.

          • merilee
            Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            like gazillion

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            I’m sure it’s the same in English as I was wondering, when I started thinking about these names, how would one come up with centipedes have 100 legs & millipedes having 1000 legs.

            Kind of like the Ancient Greek “giga” for enormous. I recall another ancient word that means similar but now I can’t remember it and it is driving me CRAZY!

            • merilee
              Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

              not a googleplex?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

                No that is a real number.

              • Merilee
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, I know, and gazillion is not ancient, and neither is s** tload…

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

                But I bet f*ckton is for realz. It has “ton” I’m it.

              • Merilee
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

                :-)

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      “dragonfly” is actually my favourite ugly english word.

      On another note, did you know we Germans call the horse radish “Meerrettich” (sea radish)?

      • merilee
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        And what does horseradish have to do mit dem(?) Meer? Schmetterling is a very beautiful German word.

        • Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Schmettern (verb) means to smash something down violently. But the “ling” is diminutive, so that softens it a bit. Still, butterfly is a ridiculous word IMHO.

          Libelle for dragonfly is quite sweet too.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            Funny, I must’ve learned that word because it totally meant that to me so butterfly just made me laugh when I heard it.

          • Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

            Bethlenfalvy further down got it right: the Schmetter-part is actually derived from an old German word for milk products, so it is similar to English. Apparently the name is derived from the fact that butterlies would be attracted to people making butter outside.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Schmetter always made me think of squishing so I thought of Schmetterling as a squished butterfly.

      • M'thew
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 12:43 am | Permalink

        “Meerrettich/horse radish” makes more sense if you think of “Mähre” – a mare. Is actually rather close to the English term.

        Now if someone can explain why that plant is called “horse radish” to begin with.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

          Google is your friend.

          horseradish (n.) Look up horseradish at Dictionary.com 1590s, Cochlearia armoricia; the common name preserves the once-common figurative sense of horse as “strong, large, coarse” (as in in obsolete horse mushroom, horse parsley, Old English horsminte “horse mint,” etc.); also see radish.

          • M'thew
            Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:19 am | Permalink

            Thank you for that.

            Perhaps the intake of large quantities of this plant would lead to “night-mares” (which have an analogous name in Dutch, “nachtmerries”)?

    • Bethlenfalvy
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Schmetterling means pretty much the same as butterfly, “Schmette” being a dialectal expression for cream.

      Sepia (in place of “Tintenfisch”) is used in academic language only.

      Anglophones, btw, are way more eccentric than German speakers as it comes to duck names:

      gadwell = Schnatterente

      garganey = Knäkente

      mallard = Stockente

      pochard = Tafelente

      (Eurasian) wigeon = Pfeifente

      (Eurasian) teal = Krickente

      (Greater) scaup = Bergente

      (Northern) shoveler = Löffelente

      (Common) goldeneye = Schellente

      (Norhern) pintail = Spießente

      etc. pp.

  7. BilBy
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The French for a sloth is ‘paresseux’ which means ‘lazy’. As, indeed, does ‘sloth’. Apparent laziness if obviously what people notice in this beast, otherwise it might be called the ‘only poops once a month and comes all the way down out of its tree to do it beast’

    • Merilee
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      But that would be a lonnnng word even auf deutsch:-)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Or the ‘only poops once a month and comes all the way down out of its tree to do it and also sometimes has algae on its fur beast’

      • Merilee
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        I challenge you to construct that German noun!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          No way. Normally I would obsess over that but I oddly have no desire to do it.

          • Merilee
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Ahhh, be a sport:-). A friend of mine dated an Indian guy who kept telling her to be a “game”. She finally realized he meant sport…

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

              Completely free-associating…a Persian friend of mine once went to a bakery and ordered a “duff-nut.”

              • Merilee
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                Why not?? Enough duffnut;-). My Chinese Quant Analysis TA always told us to mix our sorutions very thoruffly, and be sure to filter out all the junks. Such a nice guy he was – I would certainly butcher Chinese to a much worse extent.

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                @ Merilee

                Ha ha!

                Yes, whenever I’m struggling with an Indian accented IT tech I try to remember that his English is much better than my Hindi. Infinitely better.

          • merilee
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            OK, I’m going to take up my own challenge. German-speakers please feel free to criticize…my German is rusty.
            DasmonatlichessheißendemitAlgenamPelzTier. I haven’t gotten to the comes all the way down the tree bit yet.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

              Enjoy those gerunds.

            • Alex
              Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:07 am | Permalink

              Not bad at all! I propose a slightly ungrammatical compressed version:

              “Algenpelzmonatsscheisser”

              by the way, the latin word for it is of course

              “algaepellis menstruegestus “

              • Alex
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:09 am | Permalink

                Oh the coming down from the tree bit! So it’s

                Algenpelzmonatlichzumscheissenvombaumklettertier after all.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 4:54 am | Permalink

                OMG that is hilarious!

              • merilee
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

                Brilliant, Alex!! I realize that I shouldn’t have made the Das part of the word, and should not have capitalized Tier at the end. Great way to refresh my German!

                So egestus – or -gestus is the pooping part in Latin?

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Same thing in Spanish–“perezoso,” means both lazy and (the animal) sloth.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      Sw “trögdjur”, ‘slow [behavior] animal’.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

        Oy, a bit hasty there. “Trögdjur” is the whole order (?) Xenarthra. “Sengångare”, late [as in slow] walker, is more specific.

  8. Werner H Baur
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I would rather think that Meerschweinchen should be translated into sea piglet. Ocean is in German, as in English, a rather big puddle. “Meer” is more generic and can be any large salt water. The Mediterranean is a “sea” and a “Meer” but decidedly not an ocean. Of course there are exceptions: the Steinhuder Meer close to Hannover is certainly a freshwater lake.

    Anyhow, it is a funny page.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Aww that sounds cuter. All this talk of guinea pigs makes me want more. They are such sweet animals!

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Aren’t they? And so conversational!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          I remember once I forgot to give them breakfast right away and they both stared at me with wide open eyes and squeaked loudly. When I tried to talk to them, they raised their voices as if to talk over me and tell me I forgot to feed them!

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            Awwwww. :)

            Mine went off whenever they heard the crisper drawer of the refrigerator being opened. (In addition to other times, of course.)

      • ecphorizer
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        Guinea pigs breed like crazy. My daughter had a pair when she was in Jr. High and soon ran out of friends to pawn them off to. We later were informed by our vet that the female is fertile right after giving birth and we didn’t keep them separated at that time.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          Yes the females come into estrus a lot and the babies can even impregnate the mother so separating quickly is important. I had two female piggies. They pestered each other when they came into estrus as they did a display and humped the poor piggy not in estrus.

    • Jozsef Dallos
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      It’s “tengeri malac” in Hungarian.
      (tenger – sea, malac – piglet)

      • Jozsef Dallos
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        It’s one word (tengerimalac).

  9. Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    All this German is bringing back memories from medical school. Specifically, mittelschmerz. Sorry.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Because school brings on mittelschmerz. :)

      • Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        We had a visiting medical student from Germany one time and on morning rounds the attending doctor described a patient and asked us what we thought she had. The German student said, “could it be morbus Basedow?” We all looked at him like he was crazy until the attending said, “Yes, exactly, Graves Disease, or morbus Basedow in German.”

  10. MikeN
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Chinese also uses the same term for raccoon- ‘wash bear'; though most new small mammals end up as some kind of “mouse”- even the kangaroo is called a ‘pocket mouse’ – ‘daishu’.

    My favorite name from Taiwan is for the poisonous snake ‘bai bu sher’- translated as ‘100- pacer’ because after it bites you that’s how many steps you get before dying.

    • BilBy
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      ‘Pocket mouse’ is great! Though it conjures up an image of a sweet little thing peeking out of a pocket. As I have spent time in close proximity to roos, that is not accurate: an 75kg male western grey is pugnacious and stinks, oddly, of rancid curry.

      • ecphorizer
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        “rancid curry”

        Is there any other kind? :-)

  11. Jim Sweeney
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    This comment is very late, but also utterly trivial. It’s surprising that something as ubiquitous as butterflies are named so variously. Things we got at the dawn of agriculture are likely to have cognate names, and things more lately arrived, like coffee, are all the same.

    But: papillon, mariposa, schmetterling? It’s like we let the kids name them.

    • ecphorizer
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Continuing further, look at “bird”:
      vogel (D), pajaro (E), ucello(I), oiseau (F).

      At least the Teutonic group of Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Swedish are close to the German, but holy crow! Look at the divergence from the Latin “ave” in the Romance languages!

      • stuartcoyle
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        My guess is that these regions all had well established words of their own for ‘bird’ before the Romans came in. ‘Ave’ seemed silly especially when it is a homonym. ‘Bird Caesar’?

  12. Myron
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Interestingly, the word “Meerschwein” (“sea pig”) was originally used to refer to dolphins. See: http://woerterbuchnetz.de/DWB/?sigle=DWB&mode=Vernetzung&lemid=GM03084

    By the way, we also have the word “Meerkatze” (“sea cat”) in German. Meerkatzen are monkeys called guenons.

  13. merilee
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    And speaking of slow critters, I bring you, slowly, the slow loris:

  14. Posted May 27, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Just think how bad this would be in Inuktitut, where the whole language seems to cram into single words – severely agglutinating, if I recall the vocabulary correctly. Then there’s many fewer phonemes, so one has to listen carefully …

  15. stuartcoyle
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of Poul Anderson’s “Uncleftish Beholding”, which is what happens to Atomic physics when you only use Germanic words…

    https://groups.google.com/forum/message/raw?msg=alt.language.artificial/ZL4e3fD7eW0/_7p8bKwLJWkJ


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