Funny and bizarre German animal namesThe German language is famous for some really long nouns (Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän comes to mind). This is because German nouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives are like lego bricks; you can stick them together in almost any way to create new words that encapsulate new concepts. This gives the language a special ability to name just about anything. You could call it the German language’s lego brick-like quality, or Legosteineigenschaft (see what I just did there?).
But why does German rely on such an elaborate process to name things as simple as squirrels? When broken down into their separate components, the names of familiar animals mutate into bizarre new creatures.
The Uncanny X-Tiere
Comics are full of heroes with names like super, wonder, iron, ultra, bat or cat followed by -man, -woman, -girl or -boy. A lot of German animal names work the same way, where Tier – the word for animal – is preceded by a word describing that animal’s “super power”.
Stinktier – stink animal (skunk)
Faultier – lazy animal (sloth)
Gürteltier – belt animal (armadillo)
Murmeltier – mumbling animal (groundhog)
Schnabeltier – beak animal (platypus)
Maultier – mouth animal (mule)
Trampeltier – trampling animal (bactrian camel). The verb trampeln means to trample or tread upon, whereas the noun Trampel is a clumsy oaf.
Sometimes suffixes get more specific than -tier, but still tend to describe the wrong animal:
Schildkröte – shield toad (tortoise)
Waschbär – wash bear (raccoon)
Nacktschnecke – naked snail (slug)
Fledermaus – flutter mouse (bat)
Seehund – sea dog (seal)
Tintenfisch – ink fish (squid)
Truthahn – threatening chicken (turkey). Trut is onomatopoeic for the trut-trut-trut cluck of a turkey, but it’s also been hypothesized that the name comes from the Middle German droten which means “to threaten”.
No, I’m Pretty Sure That’s A Pig
Swine seem to be a popular yardstick in German animal taxonomy.
Schweinswal – pig whale (porpoise)
Seeschwein – sea pig (dugong). Not to be confused with the Seekuh, or sea cow, known in English as a manatee.
Stachelschwein – spike pig (porcupine). The English word is actually just as literal; porcupine sounds a lot like “pork spine”.
Wasserschwein – water pig (capybara)
Meerschweinchen – ocean piglet (guinea pig). The ending -chen denotes something small. Add it to the end of Schwein and you get a little pig, or piglet. Since the stems Meer and Wasser are often interchangeable, it’s most likely that Meerschweinchen actually means little capybara.
Just Plain Weird
I’d like to end this list by giving one animal a category all to itself: the humble squirrel.
- little oak horn: Eiche (oak tree) + Horn (horn) + -chen (little)
- oak croissant: Eiche (oak tree) + Hörnchen (croissant)
- Eichkätzchen (regional name) and Eichkatzerl (Austria) – oak kitten
Calling a squirrel a “tree kitten” is reasonably literal, but where does “little oak horn” come from? It seems that the answer comes down to a misplaced h: Eichhörnchen comes from the Old and Middle German eichorn, which has nothing to do with oak trees or horns. In this case, the eich comes from the ancient Indo-Germanic word aig, which means agitated movement, combined with the now obsolete suffix -orn. Somewhere in history a superfluous h was added (along with the diminutive -chen ending) but the original meaning remained. Today, Hörnchen is a category of rodents that includes all squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, prairie dogs and flying squirrels.
Keep an eye on this spot for an upcoming post where we’ll delve deeper into the animal kingdom: branching out to birds, insects, reptiles, fishes and any other mammals we find crawling around.
German language is absolutely adorable (and occasionally predictable).
This is my youngest colt, Dante.
He is half Houdini, half goat.
I took him to his very first halter show, left him tied to the trailer with his mother, and turned my back. When I looked back, he had untied himself, his mother, and was halfway to the next trailer over - presumably to either make friends, untie the other horses, or attempt both.
So I stuck him in the trailer, figuring he couldn’t get in much trouble in there.
Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with stock trailers/cattle haulers/what have you, but many have this hay loft up front, and a partitioning gate about halfway back that can be locked open or shut.
He unlocked the center partition (the mechanism for this is on the *outside* of the trailer), waltzed up front, and climbed into the hay loft.
This is how I found him.
(He was not hurt, if you were curious. He just kinda hopped back down.)
He is now 6 years old, and his antics over the years have included: opening gates, untying every knot that I know how to tie, undoing various buckles (on halters, headstalls, saddles, harnesses, *my belt*), pantsing his farrier, attempting to steal his vet’s wallet, opening doors, climbing stairs (up *and* down), climbing into the back seat of the truck, opening the trailer door, locking his brother in said trailer, treeing a raccoon, outsmarting the electric fences (fence posts are insulated, thus do not shock him + if the wire touches the ground, it shuts off = remove the fence posts, ground the wire, escape).
Today, he clipped my truck keys off my belt and disappeared with them.
This horse is too smart. Send help.
omfg this has me crying i’m laughing so hard.
i think cinco spawned from this horse
Some days is hard to be patient with the babies.
I wonder if there are Quidditch “street rules” matches where everyone’s taking liquid luck and all spells are fair game
People have died and gone missing due to Quidditch as it is what are you doing
THEY TURN UP IN A MONTH OR TWO IT’S FINE CALM DOWN
The Tamora Pierce Wikia
THIS IS AMAZING FTW FOREVER!!!!
I feel like the noise of my joints clicking is some kind of soundtrack to my life
If I meet a woman who has a strong preference for female doctors, I assume that her life has been very different from mine.
I’m not exactly a woman, not exactly not. (Sociologically in many ways I’m a woman, gender-identity-wise I’m genderless. Both are important parts of my life and identity, regardless of what the trans community thinks of that.)
But I agree with you.
I’ve had a small number of very good doctors. Their gender was completely irrelevant to my care. My four best doctors are literally evenly split between male and female — male general practitioner, female pulmonologist, female general practitioner (back in California, the one who gradually made me not think of suicide every time I had a doctor’s appointment the next day), male neurologist. So are my worst doctors, for that matter.
If I gave up my best male doctors because they were male, I would probably literally not be alive right now. I would be dying of undiagnosed adrenal insufficiency that was caught by a male doctor. And I might be in danger from a neural junction disorder that was caught this week by a male neurologist. And caught right before we were wondering “Do I really need to be taking that Mestinon dose anyway, if the problem was entirely the adrenal stuff?” Yes, yes I do need to be taking it, yes, yes, yes, definitely, holy CRAP I wasn’t expecting that EMG to turn an abnormal result.
I’m afraid of women in situatutions where I’m supposed to think women are safer.
Yes that too. That’s completely a situation I find myself in, not so much with doctors but with care providers. They always ask me if I feel safer with women, and the answer is always no, why would I? The only care providers who ever sexually abused me were women, and most of the care providers who abused me in any way were women, I don’t understand why women are supposedly safer.
(And no, I made a decision not to report the sexual abuse because it was my word against hers and it was so subtle she made sure of that.)
I’ve only ever had one male doctor who was good for me, so I prefer women doctors just because they seem to listen and think that I might have an idea of what’s going on. This might be skewed, though, because I haven’t had a lot of female doctors in general.
But my doctor growing up, my GP, was an older man who never thought to test my heart function, or do any tests, actually, because what could be wrong with this little girl who looks perfectly healthy? It must be that you just need to exercise more and your heart will get used to it (rather than that my heart muscle is literally weakened). It took me until I was 19 to get on a beta blocker and everything magically became so much better, and I get angry sometimes because he could have helped, and I could have had so much less misery.
The four or five doctors, all male, that I saw at different urgent care clinics all laughed at me, teased me, and never even thought to suggest that I go see a specialist or anything, despite the fact that I came in at least every year with a new injury, all of which in one way or another were related to my medical stuff.
I saw a sports medicine doctor shortly before my 19th birthday, who suggested Ehlers-Danlos, and that was the only useful male doctor I’ve had. The rheumatologist I was referred to after him treated me like I’d just read something online and dismissed me. And the rheumatologist that I had after that one did the same thing, with the added helping of trying to dismiss my diagnosis because it wasn’t diagnosed genetically…because my subtype doesn’t have a genetic test.
While my first female GP is the one who admitted “I don’t know how to help, but I know who can” and referred me to the sports medicine doctor, and my second female GP is the one who got pretty much all of my diagnoses-I said that I felt like something was wrong with my heart and I’d like an echocardiogram, and she ordered one, and then got me a referral to a cardiologist when something abnormal turned up. When I said I wanted to see a geneticist for a diagnosis, she went “Okay, you just tell me what I need to do, if I need to sign anything, get a referral, whatever.” She was kind and helpful.
So I realize that a lot of my distrust of male doctors is simply because I’ve had maybe three female doctors (counting the one that I saw at my school’s clinic) and everything else has been male doctors (so, obviously, there’s going to be some bad experiences, and mine just happened to be with guys). And a lot of this can also be attributed to age-the female doctors I’ve seen were younger, and only two of my male doctors were young-the sports medicine doctor, and my second rheumatologist. So it can also be an issue that the older doctors are more set in their ways and less likely to listen to the patient.
But even if it’s irrational, my experiences have been that male doctors aren’t going to listen to me, are going to dismiss me and my experiences and my diagnosis, and are just not going to help me. So whenever possible, I seek out a female doctor.
yesterday i tried to grab fog. i mist.