Free Rice Words--More
Bill Long 10/5/08
All Creatures Great and Small...
We become humbled quickly when we realize the poverty of our vocabulary to describe living things. This essay is dedicated helping us become more precise in our description and naming of a few animals. I will give links to pictures, so that you can pause on each term until you think you know it.
1. The bubal, from the Latin bubalusa and the Greek boubalos and meaning "an ox-like animal," is now associated with a species of antelope, Antilope bubalus found in north Africa. Well, that definition was given by the OED, but, guess what? When checking out Antilope bubalus, we get no hits. Something, therefore, is awry, or agley. We do have pictures of the Antilope cervicapra, the Blackbuck, found in India and Nepal, here. But the freerice.com definition of bubal was hartebeest, and I learned that the Bubal Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) was an antelope that became extinct in 1923, when the last examplar died in the Paris Zoo. Here is an old picture of one. The Century, a dictionary put out at the turn of the 20th century, has entries under bubalis and bubaline, and points the way to this hartebeest, which it calls the Alcelaphus bubalis, the "bubaline antelope." Bubulus is the Latin word for "buffalo." There are many strands here that could be disentangled by one who believes that studying the history of naming antelopes is a worthwhile occupation...
2. The kra, derived from the Malay word kera, is the "long-tailed or crab-eating macaque, Macaca fascicularis, of SE Asia." From 1821: "The Malay name is frequently a close resemblance to the cry of the animal it designates; and this is remarkably the case in the present instance...The Kra is not easily domesticated." If you do a search for "Kra," you come up with the Japanese rock band or the "Kenya Revenue authority," but I am interested in the macaque, pictured here. There are seven of these macaques pictured; I wonder what a group of macaques is called?
A Digression on Sounder
Oops. As so frequently happens with me, mention of an idea takes me on a journey. Though I didn't learn if a coterie of macaques has an official name, I discoverd that a sounder is a herd of wild swine. Indeed, the term sounder is a very ancient one, going back to the 14th century in English. From George Turberville's notable 1575 book The noble art of venerie or hunting, he has this to say about sounders: "Of a bore, when he forsaketh the Sounder and feedeth alone he shall be called a Sanglier." Sanglier does appear in the OED to describe a "full-grown wild boar," but the OED says the word is now obsolete. But in the 16th century, the word was well-established. From 1598: "After the fourth yeere, if not before, hee departeth from the Sounder, and then you shall call him, a Singler, or rather, Sanglier."
Well, behind this is the Latin singularem, meaning "solitary." Let's take it futher. In the Vulgate to Psalm 79:14, we have,
"Exterminavit eam aper de silva
et singularis ferus depastus est eam..."
Which may be rendered (Ps. 80:13 in our English Bibles): "The boar from the forest ravages it, and the singular beast [in the field] feeds on it." Thus, we have the biblical contrast between a forest boar and the "singular" beast [boar] in the field. The Septuagint underlying the Vulgate has,
"elemesato auten sus ek drumou,
kai monios agrios katenemesato auten..."
The "singular" boar of the Vulgate rests on the "alone" (monios) of the Greek. Thus, the eventual use of the word sanglier owes its origin ultimately to the Biblical cadences.
Back to Reality...
3. The banteng, another Malay word, is a species of wild ox, Bos javanicus, found in Myanmar and other SE Asian locations. This article tells us that there are about 1.5 million domestic banteng, called Bali cattle. Picture is here. Another word for the banteng is the tsine; these are related to the gaur, the Bos gaurus, pictured here. Hm..there seem to be enough words to keep the most avid verbivore busy for many years...
4. I ran into the tayra also, "an omnivorous animal from the weasel family Mustelidae." The word tayra is of unknown origin, but is probably derived from South American speech, as the tayra (Eira barbara) is found there. This animal has a slender body about two feet in length, with a tail another 18 inches long. It weighs about 10 pounds and is much like the marten. Here is a picture of this cute small furry creature. Because it is from the Mustelidae, it can be called a "musteline carnivore."
5. The brolga is the "Australian native companion crane, Grus rubicunda." They were described in 1944 as "immense birds, nearly five feet tall," which had a "weird dance." Though first described in 1810, it was "misclassified" with the herons and egrets, and didn't receive its proper taxonomic home, with the crakes, rails and cranes, until well after that. Brolga became its official name in 1926, and the designation of "companion crane" (whatever that really means) was dropped. This picture shows its "redness," captured in the rubicunda designation. Here is a fun video of natives from Yirrkala, an indigenous community in the Northern Territory of Australia, dancing the brolga, in imitation of the crane. All creatures great and small indeed!
6. The word cade can mean a number of things in English, the most prominent being a word describing lambs and colts cast off or left by the mother and brought up as a domestic pet. As early as 1551 we have "Three Cade lambs that go abowte the house.." Or, it is proper to say, "He gave his poor godson a lamb for a cade." I am not too excited about this word..
Another essay is needed to describe more living things--trees especially, though I think I will divert myself further with some hard-to-classify words in the meantime.