[Lingtyp] query: "animal"

Mike Morgan mwmbombay at gmail.com
Sun Oct 14 10:28:10 UTC 2018

In (modern) North Indic languages (I speak mostly of Nepali, Maithili and
Hindi which I am most conversant with, but also, to the best of my
knowledge the below applies also to Rajasthani (Marwari variety at least),
Gujarati and Marathi) in general there are 4 words which cover to varying
degrees the English concept "animal"

*प्राणी*  prāɳī
*जंतु*  jāntu
*जानवर* jānawar
*पशु*  pāshu

prāɳī has the widest scope (and is the one used in the compound prāɳīwigyān
'zoology'; it is also the one which is least commonly used in everyday
parlance (though not strictly academic), and in academic parlance is used
perhaps more or less like English Animalia (as the biological family)
(Note, bacteria in the wikipedia page on bacteria are referred to as जीव jīw,
not prāɳī.)

jānawar has a range of meaning which is basically (larger) animals (maybe
the closest to David's category of "higher animals"), but sometimes is used
in distinction to pāshu (see below) refering to WILD animals (as opposed to
domestic). (jāntu in my understanding is virtually synonymous with jānawar.)

pāshu  tends to be more limited to domesticated animals (Lord Shiva is
called Pāshupati, "lord of animals", and his "vehicle" is Nandi, a bull.
Note however this is somewhat fexible, as he is also oftendepicted with

 (Interesting perhaps, but definitely an aside, Shaivite Hindus (followers
of Lord Shiva) tend to be the least vegetarian, and the animal festivals
(the biggest one starting in 2 days) involve animal sacrifice, and back
when we had a King, the animal sacrifices d on behalf of the King was a
water buffalo... most "beef" eaten in Nepal (and in fact in India as well
is buffalo, not cow. So perhaps he can be seen, soemwhat heretically to
more vegetarian Hindus as original the God of animals raised (or hunted?)
for food.)

With various so-called Dharmic religions (Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism)
the main dietary distinction is between *शाकाहारी*  ʃākāhārī 'vegetarian'
and *मांसा**हारी* mā̃sāhārī'  'non-vegetarian (lit. meat eater). However in
large parts of North Eastern India (basically from Northern Bihar State
down to Orissa and NE of that) and also Southwestern Indian (the west coast
area south of Mumbai) fish is not considered meat" and even some higher
caste Brahmins have no problem eating fish: sometime referred to (by
others) as non-vegetarian or half-vegetarian (अर्द्ध-शाकाहारी), there is
also this form of diet is referred to as मत्स्याहारी matsahārī "piscetarian",
and indicates that fish is NOT considered on the same level as  level
(dharmically) with mammals and fowl (which are forbidden)

Dr Michael W Morgan
mwm || *U*C> || mike || माईक || માઈક || মাঈক || மாஈக ||  مایک ||мика ||
sign language linguist / linguistic typologist / Deaf education consultant
"Have language, will travel"
"People who are always looking down at the bottom line will always fail to
see the stars"
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