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Thread: Why are there so many names for male, female, and baby animals?

  1. #1 Why are there so many names for male, female, and baby animals? 
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    There are terms like stallion, doe, and calf as opposed to male horse, female deer, and baby elephant. Why not just call animals what they literally are instead of using thousands of different names for their genders and ages? That is especially confusing because many of those titles are shared, which makes the practice in vain.


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  3. #2  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    A lot of it comes from the fact that English is a language that has taken words from many different other languages. Some of the words will be Old English, some French, some German, some Norse etc. etc.


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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Because, among other things (or perhaps particularly) the names denote the "usefulness" of the animal in question (suitability for eating/ breeding/ etc) at each stage of its growth.
    E.g. Stallion is a horse for breeding (the name derives from stall - the horse was mostly kept in a stable so as to make it easily accessible for servicing mares).
    cf (for humans) baby, child, girl/ woman, boy/ man, youth &c, ergo why not the same for animals?
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresa View Post
    There are terms like stallion, doe, and calf as opposed to male horse, female deer, and baby elephant. Why not just call animals what they literally are instead of using thousands of different names for their genders and ages? That is especially confusing because many of those titles are shared, which makes the practice in vain.
    As anyone thought of blaming science? or for the religious....Adam?

    I couldn't imagine reading a term paper or thesis that referenced a baby this or that, over and over again. Redundant for some and word salad ingredients for others. Great for word counting.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Thank you everyone. That's a choice note, zinjanthropos, but the practice just exchanges redundancy for confusion. As a result, I still have the question of why many of the names are shared among different animals.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    You wouldn't think two animals could give birth to a puggle. Imagine the confusion if you didn't know one was an echidna and the other a platypus.

    Good thing no baby animals are named a set or a run. The OED has 464 meanings for set and 396 for run. Although I suppose one could have a set or run of puggles.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Puggle is a cute word. It reminds me of The Wuzzles.
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  9. #8  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    You wouldn't think two animals could give birth to a puggle. Imagine the confusion if you didn't know one was an echidna and the other a platypus.
    Platypus: A common misconception is that they are also named ‘puggles’, and [t]here is no officially recognized label for platypus babies, but in recent years “platypup” has emerged...

    Although I suppose one could have a set or run of puggles.
    Echidnae: parade.
    Platypodes: paddle.

    (The Puggle is a mix between the Beagle and Pug dog breeds).
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  10. #9  
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    There are different Scottish names for children. Confusing to go there and find 'bairns' and 'weans'. Latter is short for 'wee ones'.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bairn
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