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Request for information: Semantics of body parts

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Saturday, June 15, 2002, 16:39
There is a widespread desire, in creating a conlang, to avoid simply
mirroring the semantics of one's L1.  I have noticed a number of items
which lead me to suspect that the naming of parts of the body is one
area in which natlang semantics are particularly divergent.  For

I believe Japanese has no common word referring to a foot other than
_ashi_, "leg".  Similarly Russian _ruka_ refers to the hand but also
includes the wrist and forearm.  Japanese _kuchibiri_, "lips" refers
only to the reddish areas edging the mouth, and cannot refer to the
surrounding area as English _lips_ sometimes does.

Similarly, the way in which these terms are applied to "equivalent"
body parts on other animals may vary - English has seperate words for
the nose of a human, the trunk of an elephant and the beak of a bird,
but _hana_ in Japanese means both nose and trunk, while _nos_ in
Russian and _burun_ in Turkish refer to both nose and beak.

I'd be interested in hearing about similar differences from English
semantics in both conlangs and natlangs.


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Dennis Paul Himes <himes@...>
Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>