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Re: [wolfrunners] Re: Languages and SF/F (fwd)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Thursday, August 24, 2000, 4:07
Yoon Ha Lee forwarded an e-mail with these words:
> > Using only English words, what do you call a kangaroo?
Jumping Animal! :-) Giant Grasshopper. But it is a good point that many animals and plants might not have easy equivalents. Still, I suspect that a good deal of metaphorical usage would be common. For instance, on Terra Nova, there's a creature called a "wolf". It looks almost nothing like an Earth wolf. It's behavior is vaguely similar, pack hunter, things like that, and probably a vaguely canoid shape. But, then it also has large forelimbs [all animaloids on Terra Nova are 6-limbed] that have evolved into crab-like pincers. Thus, Wolf-Crab was another term.
> and it might still be apparent to living aboriginals!
Possible, but having lived there for tens of millennia, I'm sure that it now means only "kangaroo".
> But if their language is the language of just one people, and their culture > has received fewer foreign influences and suffered less disruption over the > millennia, their language would tend to have animal names whose original > meanings are obvious to all speakers of the language. "Well, it's called a > fieldbounder because it bounds through the fields, obviously."
What do "cow", "horse", "pig", etc. mean? Nothing other than the animals, and yet those are NATIVE, not borrowed, terms. Whatever "cow" might've once meant has been long forgotten. Also, the Aboriginal languages borrow A LOT from neighboring tribes. In one, something like 13% of the vocabulary was replaced over a 50 year period.
> If you thought their ability to stand upright made them look like people, > you might give them a name that means "fieldpeople"
Interesting, hadn't thought of that possibility. "Bigleg" would be another possibility.
> Or be seriously injured by a vicious kick from a rabbit?)
I've seen a rabbit kill several armed men on Monty Python. ;-)
> I admit I am completely ignorant of aboriginal culture, but I just bet > their concepts, values, and worldview are WAY different from those of the > colonists
Indeed. I'm not an expert, but I do know a little of their beliefs, and they're certainly non-Western. -- "Their bodies did not age, but they became afeared of everything and anything. For partaking in any activity at all could threaten their precious and ageless bodies! ... Their victory over death was a hollow one." ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTailor