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Male and female animals

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Monday, October 28, 2002, 1:40
I'm starting to come up with Lindiga words for different kinds of animals,
and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to have distinct words
for males, females, and young of some species. English even goes as far as
having distinct words for immature males and females in a few cases.

         male     female   young    yng. m.  yng. f.
horse    stallion mare     foal     colt     filly
human    man      woman    child    boy      girl

In some cases, males and females look quite different, and it makes sense
to have separate words for them. Adult male deer have antlers, but except
for reindeer (and possibly a few others I'm forgetting), most female deer
don't have them. It's also useful to have distinct male and female words
for domesticated animals. More examples from English:

deer     buck     doe      fawn
(bovine) bull     cow      calf
sheep    ram      ewe      lamb
pig      boar     sow      piglet
chicken  rooster  hen      chick

In a few cases, English has distinct words for the male or the female of a
species, but not both.

dog               bitch    puppy
fox               vixen    kit
duck     drake             duckling
goose    gander            gosling

Different languages have specific words for males, females, and young that
aren't distinguished in English; for example, Arabic has distinct words for
male and female camels. But other languages seem to get by without specific
words. Japanese has "ushi" for bovine animals in general, "oushi" for
"bull", "meushi" for "cow" (female), and "koushi" for "calf". Even in
English, some animals use the "-ess" suffix for females (lioness, tigress),
or append "he-" and "she-" as prefixes (he-goat, she-wolf). But these
affixes aren't productive in English: you can't say "he-nightingale" or
"squirreless", for instance.

Is it common for languages to have distinct words for males and females of
familiar animal species, or is English unusual in that respect? Picking up
a few dictionaries at random, I notice that Tohono O'odham has "keli" for
"buck", but this is defined as "adult male; the male of any animal". The
Basque words for "doe" are obviously derived from the words for "deer" by
adding the suffix "-eme". Hindi, on the other hand, has "mrigi" for "female
deer" ("deer" by itself is "harin.").

If there are other languages that make these kinds of distinctions, what
kinds of animals are distinguished in this way? Do they tend to be
domesticated animals or conspicuous animals with noticeable differences
between male and female? Or are there languages that make distinctions for
no apparent reason (why for instance does English have a distinct word for
female foxes)?

I think it might be suitable to have a few specific words for males,
females and young in Lindiga, but I don't think there's any need for
specific words for immature males and females like "colt" or "filly". In
the case of humans, it might seem a little strange not to have distinct
words for "boy" and "girl", but male and female suffixes are always
available if necessary. Other animals might have distinct words for young,
but not for males and females.

                  male     female   young
human    urva     xas.l.a  kujva    tirja
deer     mi^va    parra    xi^n.a   sivja
mouse    me.vsa                     rin.t.a

For most animals, having the ability to use suffixes to make the
distinction should be good enough.

turtle         t.o.ska      ["t`Oska]
male turtle    t.o.sko.^sa  [t`Os"kO:za]
female turtle^va   [t`Os"ki:wa]
young turtle   t.o.skuja    ["t`Oskuja]

On the other hand, it might be interesting to do without specific words
entirely, even for humans! So "woman" would be "she-human" (urvi^va) and
"buck" would be "he-deer" (mi^vo.^sa).

languages of Azir------> ---<>---
hmiller (Herman Miller)   "If all Printers were determin'd not to print any  email password: thing till they were sure it would offend no body,
\ "Subject: teamouse" /  there would be very little printed." -Ben Franklin


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