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zompist bboard • View topic - The Suppletion Thread

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:56 am 
Lebom
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Well, Polish has (o - neutral, ♂ - male, ♀ - female, y - young):

sheep: baran, tryk (♂) - owca (o/♀) - jagnię (y)
cattle: bydło (o) - byk (♂) - krowa (♀) - cielak/cielę (y)
dogs: pies (o/♀) - suka (♀) - szczeniak/szczenię (y)
horses: koń (o) - ogier (♂) - klacz (♀) - źrebak/źrebię (y)
chickens: kogut (♂) - kura (o/♀) - kurczak/kurczę (y)

There are of course many more such pairs/triplets/... with different roots, especially in the hunters' jargon. Some of the terms are also shared by several different species, e.g. byk is also a male deer (o jeleń).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:00 pm 
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Sheep (general) - Ram (m) - Ewe (f) - Lamb (baby) - Mutton (meat)
Cattle (general) - Bull (m) - Cow (general/f) - Calf (baby) - Ox, Steer (castrated) - Beef, Veal (meat)
Dog (general/m) - Bitch (f) - Puppy (baby)
Horse (general) - Stallion, Colt (young) (m) - Mare, Filly (young) (f) - Foal, Yearling (baby) - Gelding (castrated)
Donkey, Ass (general) - Jack (m) - Jenny (f) - Foal, Colt, Filly (baby)
Mule (jack/mare hybrid) - Hinny (stallion/jenny hybrid)
Chicken (general) - Cock, Rooster, Cockerel (young) (m) - Hen, Pullet (young) (f) - Chick (baby) - Capon (castrated)
Deer (general) - Buck, Stag (m) - Doe, Hind (f) - Fawn, Kid, Calf (baby) - Venison (meat)
Goat (general) - Billy, Buck (m) - Nanny, Doe (f) - Kid (baby) - Wether (castrated) - Chevon (meat)
Pig, Hog, Swine (general) - Boar (m) - Sow (f) - Piglet (baby) - Pork, Bacon, Ham, Gammon (meat)
Cat (general) - Tom (m) - Molly (f) - Kitten (baby)
Duck (general) - Drake (m) - Hen (f) - Duckling (baby)
Goose (general/f) - Gander (m) - Gosling (baby)
Swan (general) - Cob (m) - Pen (f) - Cygnet (baby)
Human (general) - Man, Guy, Boy (young), etc (m) - Woman, Lady, Girl (young), etc (f) - Baby, Child, Kid, etc (baby) - Eunuch (castrated)

There are probably more. Of course, English has that oddity (I dunno if others have a similar thing) where the meat of a species comes from the French and the animal's name comes from the Anglo-Saxon. Also I haven't heard of some of these terms, they came off Wikipedia.

And then we can also see some nice semantic shift of certain of these words – although not strictly relevant to the thread. For instance:
Cow: female cattle -> ugly woman
Bitch: female dog -> nasty woman
Ass: donkey -> buttocks
Cock: male chicken -> male genitalia
Hen: female chicken -> woman
Chick: baby chicken -> attractive woman
Kid: baby goat -> child
Pig: pig -> disgusting fat person
Swine: pig -> despicable person
etc


Last edited by finlay on Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:36 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:33 am 
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Actually the case of cows/cattle/whatever is different than for the other animals, because we have a bit of a lexical gap. Specifically there's no gender-neutral way to refer to a single member of the species. "Cattle" is plural-only, *one cattle is simply ungrammatical.

And in terms of our prototypical conceptualization of them, males and females are rarely thought of together (unless you live/work around the animals, or around people who do). They might as well be separate species; our farm has horses and cows and goats and chickens and bulls! Sometimes we mistake "cows" for passing as a unisex term, but it really doesn't - the images it evokes are entirely of females. Udders, milk, mooing, docility. It doesn't evoke strength, belligerent charging, rodeos, or the other things that go with our prototype for "bulls".


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:41 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:00 am 
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Cattlebeast? That's right up there with girlchild as a compound that should be taken out back and shot.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:10 am 
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There seems to be some disagreement over what counts as suppletion... According to wikipedia and what I've generally heard before, strictly it means cases where the different roots are not cognates. However I have repeatedly seen it used in literature for instances of cognates that are related historically but not by any predictable synchronic rule, and instances that are related historically but no longer bear the slightest resemblance to each other.

Certain American families are rife with the latter sort of "suppletion" or "weak suppletion". In languages of the Numic branch of Uto-Aztecan - e.g. Paiute, or Comanche - we find not just a handful but many hundreds of stems that supplete for grammatical number. Most of it is probably not suppletion in the strict sense, but it seems to be normal in Numic studies to call them suppletive anyway, because the relationship between the roots in each pair has simply been obliterated. I wish I had actual examples at hand but I don't; I at least distinctly remember reading through a list of two or three dozen of these suppletive pairs for Comanche and noticing that often not a single sound remained shared. Nevertheless, probably most or all of them derive from proto-Uto-Aztecan reduplicative plurals.

If I recall correctly some Muskogean languages have a similar situation going on... but suppleting for three grammatical numbers, sg-dl-pl.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:49 am 
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I lived on a beef farm for a year or so which had both male and female cows. The owner referred to them as "cows" and never anything else, but it's possible he was just making it simple for us city people.


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