[Lingtyp] query: "animal"
Larry M. HYMAN
hyman at berkeley.edu
Sat Oct 13 17:21:37 UTC 2018
Hi David - Here's an example (just presented in my introduction to
linguistics class yesterday!). Lack of accent = Mid tone.
14. Taxonomies of words are culture specific, e.g. animals. Cf. Leggbó,
an Upper Cross-River language of Nigeria
a. ɛtɛɛn “animal”
i. ɛtɛɛn ɛkkpón ‘land animal’
ii. ɛtɛɛn àsí ‘water animal’
b. does not include
i. lìzol ‘bird’
ii. ǹdòdò ‘insect’
On Sat, Oct 13, 2018 at 9:34 AM David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
> Dear all,
> I am interested in exploring, cross-linguistically, the semantic range of
> words that correspond more or less to the English word "animal".
> Here are examples of the things that English "animal" refers to:
> 1. dog, kangaroo, lizard, frog ...
> 2. eagle, sparrow, chicken, bat ...
> 3. bee, scorpion, spider, centipede ...
> 4. crab, shrimp ...
> 5. worm, leech ...
> 6. starfish, jellyfish, squid, octopus ...
> 7. oyster, clam ...
> 8. sponge (?) ...
> I am looking for examples of languages in which the basic word closest to
> English "animal" is nevertheless different in its coverage. In
> particular, I would like to find instances — if such exist — of languages
> in which there is a basic word that covers the examples in 1-4 (or maybe
> 1-5) to the exclusion of those in 5-8 (or maybe 6-8). (Note that the
> question concerns every-day words that reflect our naive folk biological
> knowledge, not with scientific terms in those few languages that have such
> Some words of background: A colleague and I working in experimental
> cognitive science have found (non-linguistic) empirical evidence for the
> psychological reality of an ontological category that consists roughly of
> animals of the kind exemplified in 1-4 (and possibly also 5). We are
> calling this category "higher animals". The characteristic prototypical
> features of higher animals include a single axis of symmetry, the existence
> of head, torso and limbs, a face in the front of the head that includes
> sensory organs such as eyes, and a mouth for eating, and the ability to
> move forward in the direction that the head is facing. A challenge that
> we face is that, in the (few) languages that we are familiar with, there is
> no simple word for higher animals. But we are hoping that other
> languages might have such a word. in addition, we would also welcome
> grammatical evidence for the category of higher animals, for example in the
> form of grammatical rules that are sensitive to the animacy hierarchy by
> making reference to a cut-off point between higher and other animals.
> I look forward to your responses. Thanks,
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
> Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Larry M. Hyman, Professor of Linguistics & Executive Director,
Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley
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