2 of 3
2
onomatopoeic creatures
Posted: 26 June 2007 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  115
Joined  2007-02-24

No proof of it, but could it be possible that “wolf” was named for the sound it makes?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 June 2007 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

How about “cow” - “kuh” in German?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  79
Joined  2007-04-14

--Redundant post--

[ Edited: 27 June 2007 06:27 AM by Thews McHeftigan ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 June 2007 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3507
Joined  2007-01-29

How about “cow” - “kuh” in German?

Both are from PIE *gwou-.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 June 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1223
Joined  2007-04-28
languagehat - 25 June 2007 01:55 PM

The Lao (and Thai) word for ‘cat’ is not “meow” but maaw.  This sounds onomatopoeic to us, but that doesn’t prove anything about its origin.  The Vietnamese is con mèo; I don’t know if the second syllable is a loan from Tai (which includes both Thai and Lao) or was borrowed into Tai or whether one or both were borrowed from Chinese mao, but if the latter is the case, you’d have to investigate the Ancient Chinese form, which might be quite different.  Etymology ain’t easy.

Fair point. If it is a Chinese loanword then that would have to be investigated though the Lao etc might have later leapt on it imagining it corresponded to the sound they heard. And maaw sounds very close phonetically to what we hear. This is pure speculation but a list of the representation of cat meows in all languages would be interesting. I am guessing all would start with “m” or “n” followed by a diphthong or maybe just an aaw diphthong. Mind you, dog bark sounds vary markedly from language to language so I could be talking through my hat again.

etymolog - 25 June 2007 11:35 AM

I did read your original post, which did not specify non-avian exclusivity (although it does now, since your recent edit), and I did note that the OED entry on meow is “not really about animal names, but still interesting”.

Sorry, etymol, you were right. I have found I word my original posts pretty badly and get taken to task by many later posters so I hurriedly and inaccurately edited it.

Thanks to everyone for the interesting responses.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 June 2007 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  48
Joined  2007-06-03

The edit to specify non-avian onomatopoeic names effectively rules out NZ Maaori, since birds were pretty much all there were here. All though it’s possible the name for the native bat, pekapeka, was inspired by their screech.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22
languagehat - 27 June 2007 06:35 AM

How about “cow” - “kuh” in German?

Both are from PIE *gwou-.

which does at least sound like “moo”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  429
Joined  2007-02-14

Nonsense, every kid knows that a cow (koe) really says “boe”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1223
Joined  2007-04-28

The Lao fellow who told it to me told it to me because he knew it sounded like the sound “English” cats make. Neither of us knew the IPA which I’m guessing “maaw” is and which is misleading unless you know your IPA - it’s not “moore” right, LH? Layman’s “meow” was what I heard and wrote in my original post and this is attested to by:

http://www.thai2english.com/search/cat+

Could be an extraordinary etymological coincidence and I jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3507
Joined  2007-01-29

Neither of us knew the IPA which I’m guessing “maaw” is and which is misleading unless you know your IPA - it’s not “moore” right, LH?

Right — it’s not IPA, but it’s a transcription that uses letters in their “continental” values, so a = a in father and maaw sounds like Mao.  But from your Thai dictionary link I see there are two separate words, the common one I quoted and another one that would sound more or less like “meow,” which I did not know about.  Sure, it could be onomatopoeia, but it could also be etymological coincidence; all I was saying was let’s not jump to conclusions.  There are very few onomatopoeic names of mammals, which is why this thread was posted.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  48
Joined  2007-06-03
languagehat - 30 June 2007 12:05 PM

Neither of us knew the IPA which I’m guessing “maaw” is and which is misleading unless you know your IPA - it’s not “moore” right, LH?
There are very few onomatopoeic names of mammals, which is why this thread was posted.

Indeed. On looking up the Maaori name for NZ’s bats, it occurred to me that they probably thought of it as a bird. The native frog, one of the only other non-avian animals native here, has a similar sounding name, and is apparently known for its distinctive noise, so I’m guessing onomatopeia is at least partly responsible for the names. Penguins are “hoiho” which literally means “noisy”, apparently, and I’ve seen the same word used for “horse”, which seems kind of sound-related if not actually onomatopeic.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 June 2007 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2022
Joined  2007-02-19

Penguins are “hoiho” which literally means “noisy”, apparently, and I’ve seen the same word used for “horse”, which seems kind of sound-related if not actually onomatopeic

Like “houyhnhm”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 July 2007 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  815
Joined  2007-06-20

Of course, barbarians are “onomatopoeic “… at least, to the Greeks they were .,..

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 July 2007 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2335
Joined  2007-01-30
lionello - 30 June 2007 07:49 PM

Penguins are “hoiho” which literally means “noisy”, apparently, and I’ve seen the same word used for “horse”, which seems kind of sound-related if not actually onomatopeic

Like “houyhnhm”

I can never remember how the word is spelled. OED has houyhnhnm. Swift once said that the word was supposed to be sounded like the whinny of a horse. Good luck with that one! I always pronounce it hwinim.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 July 2007 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2022
Joined  2007-02-19

OED has houyhnhnm

sorry, aldi. i was never very good at spelling omonapoteoic words

:-)

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 3
2