The 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). Trutis 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.
So this anon asked about the other fanbabies, Flamepaw and Plumepaw, and I see no reason not to indulge a little in my other kitty ocs them too~ qwq I drew them in their “re-redesign” design this time since WR is on ice and I wanted to see how they’d look in a proper drawing.
Flame and Plume are born almost two months after Grey and Wren, to Squirrelflight and Shrewpelt, who were overjoyed to have kittens, since Squirrel had thought herself unable to bear them in the first place. Unlike their fellow denmates, there follows no drama with this birth, and the two kittens are born and raised healthy and happy. Flame, with the help of Grey of course manages to get into all sort of well-meaning trouble, but that’s about it.
The two don’t really think of themselves as big sister and little brother, but have more of a “twin mindset” in that they’re two siblings who were born nearly at the same time.
Warrior name: ??? Since Flame isn’t -my- character but rather mainly Laika’s, I cannot just name him as I see fit without her. ;) But personally I can see him as both Flamewhisker and Flameheart.
Description: Medium-longhaired ruddy-brown ticked tabby tom with amber eyes
Personality: Curious adventurer type
Flamepaw’s name was given him in honour of Firestar and his coat colour, but he’s not too much like his namesake; while helpful and generous, Flamepaw is also rather absent-minded, and hasn’t that sense of loyalty and dedication to his Clan. In fact, he often catches himself wondering what’s over in the next valley, and his paws itch to go see. His best friend is Greypaw, and his favourite relative is grandma Sandstorm.
Warrior name: Plumetail (as a prefix follow-up since she has the Clan’s fluffiest tail)
Description: Fluffy blue ticked tabby she-cat with lemon-green eyes and a full tail
Personality: Witty little boss type
She got her name for her tail, which is even fuller than her ma’s, and she loves to flaunt it. The downside is that her fluffy coat demands twice the maintenance… Plumepaw’s personality is that middle-ground between girly and tomboyish, so she’s hard to nail. She can gossip just as much as playfight with the boys, and is very good at bossing others around. Compared to her brother, Plume is rather more down-to-earth and focused on the present. Her best friend is Cloudypaw, and her favourite relatives are her parents and “uncle” Cloudtail.
And here comes the embarrassment again noooo. >w<;
said: Prompt time: I’ve been wanting Derek
to come back to BH with that ridiculous 70s pornstache Hoechlin has in his new
movie. And Stiles just being unable to get over it.
Okay, this is just ridiculous, I hope you enjoy it :)
“I don’t understand,” Stiles says, sitting on top
of the picnic table in his backyard. He
frames out Derek’s face with his hands, squints his eyes a little, like maybe
he’s imagining it. Nope, still happening.
“Do you think he lost a bet with Cora?” His hair is feathering, he looks like he should be
wearing tube socks and a brown leather jacket. He’s a pair of BluBlockers away
from being a 70s porn star, it’s ridiculous.
“He seems more relaxed,” Scott offers with a
shrug. He’s tapping his fingers on his
knees and staring at the burgers his dad’s grilling and probably only paying
sixty percent attention to what Stiles is actually saying.
That Derek has shown up after nearly a year of being gone
and is suddenly chewing gum. How his
big shoulders hang loosely under a too-tight ringer t-shirt. How he throws his head back when he laughs,
and blushes when Stiles’s dad claps him on the shoulder, and how there’s a big
hairy mustache over his upper lip and no one is mentioning it. No one is bringing it up at all, how there’s
possibly a dead animal attached to Derek’s face now; it’s big enough to be a
squirrel or a small kitten or a ferret—what is happening here?
And the real tragedy of this entire situation, the thing
that is hurting Stiles, deep down inside, is that whatever is going on with Derek
is totally doing it for him. Crap.