AKA Abraham Bacoln

August 2, 2007, 9:43 am
Filed under: tidbit

Jared Diamond, in his book The Third Chimpanzee, gave me my first introduction to the concept of the Proto-Indo-European language. Of course I encourage you to find, buy, and read that book or at least look up some articles online. Wikipedia has some good ones [citation needed]. The easiest short version of today’s theme is that there are some words that share common roots across multiple languages, like the numbers, words for certain animals, etc.

Bat is not one of those words.

I know you all have been dying to hear how my bat words adventure worked out. In case you have forgotten (read: I know you have forgotten) I found myself fascinated by the difference in the English word for bat (bat) and the Spanish word for bat (murciélago). These are obviously not the same. I began to wonder just how different the name was across multiple languages, so I started asking classmates and random students how to write bat in their language. This is the final list, submitted for your approval. I make NO CLAIMS to the accuracy of these translations. I’m pretty sure the Hungarian is right on as I had it confirmed by more than one person. The Turkish? That could say ‘dog trolley’ for all I know, I didn’t look it up. There may even be bad words down there, gasp. That was part of the fun of it, I suppose. This was not science, this was an excuse for social interaction with strangers.

I only wish I could have gotten more. At least I got them from people that actually spoke these languages.

murci̩lago РSpanish
fladdermus – Swedish
vleermuis – Dutch
chauvesouris – French
yarasa – Turkish
denev̩r РHungarian
pipistrello – Italian
fledermaus – German
leÄ‘urblaka – Icelandic
netopýr – Czechoslovakian
летучая мышь – Russian
[koumori] – Japanese
sikspārnis – Latvian

Obviously Dutch, Swedish, and German have got some little thing going on. I think it’s a conspiracy. I also had many people confirm that the literal translation was ‘flying mouse’ which … you know, I’ve never looked at a bat and thought, “Oh, I see, a mouse with wings.” It’s a bit different than that in my mind.

I think I’m going to stick with BAT.


3 Comments so far
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i’ll have to find the word for “man” in all these languages now.. you know that right???

Comment by Kyla

If you take pictures of people speaking Spanish is that a photo-indo-European process?

Comment by DadO

Well, someone must bring up the obvious link to the comic operetta “Die Fledermaus” by Strauss. If you look it up in Wikipedia, the literal translation is “flutter mouse”. How enlightening.

Comment by towanda46

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