Thursday, December 6, 2012

Animals [an-uh-muhz ], (n)

One of my uncles once told me that he always compares the people he meets to animals. He explained this by pointing at people around us stating that to him "that man standing there" was an owl while "that woman sitting over there" was more like a bat. This concept was strange to me at the time but I must admit that nowadays I sometimes look at the people around me and imagine them as animals. A cuddly teddy bear, a rattlesnake or an okapi which is one of the strangest animals around as it has not yet made up its mind if it wants to be a donkey, zebra or giraffe!
The Okapi

The official name for the Okapi is "Okapia Johnstoni"  in recognition of the explorer Harry Johnston, who organized the expedition that first acquired an okapi specimen for science from the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In English a dog barks, a cat mews, a cow moos, a horse whinnies, a sheep bleats, a donkey brays, a pig grunts, a cock crows, a duck quacks, a hen cackles, a mouse squeaks, a bull bellows, a snake hisses, a craw caws, an owl hoots, a parrot screeches, a lion roars, a bee hums, a bear grumbles, a frog croaks, a pigeon coos and a bird whistles. But do animals in all languages make the same sound? Just like the Okapi has difficulties deciding on its appearance, so seem all animals confused as to what language they should speak.

Just take a look at the following wonderful ESL Languages website which compares animal sounds in different languages. A pity Hebrew is missing. Anyone volunteering in sending them the Hebrew soundbytes?

Animal Sounds – Badge

 And if I have already mentioned the teddy bear, I can't stop myself from giving the etymology for that name too.

The Teddybear is named for U.S. president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt , a noted big-game hunter, whose conservationist fervor inspired a comic illustrated poem in the "New York Times" of Jan. 7, 1906, about two bears named Teddy. That year, two bears presented to the Bronx Zoo were given the name Teddy, as a follow up on this poem and cartoon. The name was picked up by toy dealers in 1907 for a line of "Roosevelt bears" imported from Germany. The meaning of teddy bear as a "big, lovable person" was first attested in 1957, through the song popularized by Elvis Presley - "Let me be Your Teddy Bear"


  1. Luba Shapiro ( just uploaded the following to the ETNI facebook:


  2. I remember seeing the Okapi once in a website and I was shocked (seriously!) to see this kind of hybrid animal. It's funny to read some things here, the sounds of the animals, for example, because it brings some good memories from our proficiency course.