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  1. #1
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Many thanks to Mr. Raymott for the lists of animal adjectives and "gender/baby forms" given. I was studying it carefully and two new questions came up.
    (Please excuse the multitude of my questions. I'm a big asker. Apologies.)

    1. Most "-ine" adjectives have no obvious connection with their corresponding animal nouns. Why did those animal words devolop so different adjectives?? Why aren't they just as simple as "cat--> catine" "dog--dogine" "ox-->oxine" instead of feline, canine and bovine?? Any etymological reasons??

    And a more practical question: Any advice on how to best memorize them? Do native English speakers find them hard to remember too??

    2. In the "gender/baby variants list", most animals have specific "male" and "female" forms, such as "gander" for "male goose".
    For those who don't, there are "female" and "male" filled in the corresponding blanks, which I assume to suggest we can just call them "male or female something", such as: a "female snake".

    But there're some animals who neither have "gender variants" nor "female/male" given in the blanks. Just a hyphen in the blanks. Examples include: snipe, sparrow, skunk....etc. --Why is it so?? In such cases, can you just call them "female snipe" or "male sparrow" too?

    And, most importantly, when you're not sure if a certain animal have "gender variants", is it safe to apply the generic term "female something" or "male something" to all animals??

    I'm not sure if I've made my questions clear enough. And again, please excuse the multitude of my questions.

    Hearty thanks to all.
    Last edited by pinbong; 17-Nov-2010 at 15:07.

  2. #2
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post
    1. Most "-ine" adjectives have no obvious connection with their corresponding animal nouns. Why did those animal words devolop so different adjectives?? Why aren't they just as simple as "cat--> catine" "dog--dogine" "ox-->oxine" instead of feline, canine and bovine?? Any etymological reasons??
    "-ine" is non-productive suffix in English. It means that it's not used to form new words anymore. When it came to English from French, the words that have it now had already got it. They were just French versions of Latin words with ending with suffix "-inus". "Dog" and "cat" weren't Latin words so "dogine" and "catine" couldn't be formed.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post

    And a more practical question: Any advice on how to best memorize them? Do native English speakers find them hard to remember too??
    We had to learn them by heart at school, unless our parents were reasonably well-educated.

    Some of them are known and used by many native speakers, feline and canine, for example. Others, such as bovine are far less widely used, and I doubt if anybody except a zoologist or novelists who love showing off their knowledge would use ursine.
    Last edited by 5jj; 15-Dec-2010 at 10:25. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post

    2. In the "gender/baby variants list", most animals have specific "male" and "female" forms, such as "gander" for "male goose".

    Even some native speakers do not know some of these words. For example 'queen' for a female cat is probably not used much outside cat-breeding circles.

    For those who don't, there are "female" and "male" filled in the corresponding blanks, which I assume to suggest we can just call them "male or female something", such as: a "female snake".

    Yes. It's also possible, if relevant, to speak of a ' mother snake'.


    But there're some animals who neither have "gender variants" nor "female/male" given in the blanks. Just a hyphen in the blanks. Examples include: snipe, sparrow, skunk....etc. --Why is it so??

    Because most of us don't need to talk about female snipe, etc.

    In such cases, can you just call them "female snipe" or "male sparrow" too?

    Yes

    And, most importantly, when you're not sure if a certain animal have "gender variants", is it safe to use the generic term "female something" or "male something"??

    Yes
    5

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    "-ine" is non-productive suffix in English. It means that it's not used to form new words anymore. When it came to English from French, the words that have it now had already got it. They were just French versions of Latin words with ending with suffix "-inus". "Dog" and "cat" weren't Latin words so "dogine" and "catine" couldn't be formed.

    Similarly fox-like: vulpine (Latin 'fox': vulpus) etc. 'Dog' => canis, 'cat' => felis.

    The quite formal English word 'caveat' (meaning 'warning/tip about something to be careful about') is derived from the subjunctive of the verb cavere. Put that together with what you know about dog, and you'll understand the mosaics on pavements outside some houses in Pompeii:http://dogeatdogma.com/images/cavecanem.jpg

    b

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Afterthought about the suffix -ine. Some words that end in '-ine' seem to have been coined just by tacking 'ine' onto an existing English word. An example of this is 'labyrinthine' - meaning 'shaped like a labyrinth'. But I can't think an example of this from the animal kingdom.

    b
    PS Trivium, while we're talking about shapes: in London's Hyde Park (serpentine - Google Maps ) the lake is called the Serpentine (doh that's like 'labyrinthine' in the way discussed above; but, although the word 'serpent' does exist in English it's much more common to say 'snake'. Come to that, it's much more common to say 'snake-like' than 'serpentine'.)

  7. #7
    pinbong is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Many thanks to all.
    oh, I need some time to comprehend all these.

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post
    Many thanks to all.
    oh, I need some time to comprehend all these.
    You may need time to get them, but you don't need to do it. As fivejedjon said, some of them are unknown to most speakers. There's no real need of knowing these.

    PS: But there's of course nothing wrong about it!!!
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 18-Nov-2010 at 06:41.

  9. #9
    akeimi is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by pinbong View Post
    And a more practical question: Any advice on how to best memorize them? Do native English speakers find them hard to remember too??

    Hearty thanks to all.
    *I am not a teacher.*

    I found your post while googling where animal adjectives like 'feline' come from (ans: Latin -> French -> Norman Conquest).

    You do not have to memorize that entire list! I hope you do because words are awesome, but most people won't know what you're talking about. My spell-checker doesn't even recognize most of those words!

    I'm a native English speaker with a relatively good vocabulary, so I thought I'd share the words on that list that I'm familiar with. If your goal is to have the same vocabulary as a native English speaker, the words below should be sufficient.

    animal adjectives I could name off the top of my head before reading the list:
    bovine
    porcine
    feline
    canine
    simian
    aquiline
    ovine

    additional animal adjectives I recognized while reading the list:
    asinine (I did not know it meant donkey-like... perhaps this is a homonym?)
    myrmecine (ant-like) <-- I know this from a video game, lol.
    ursine (bear-like)
    avian (bird-like)
    taurine (bull-like)
    elephantine
    piscine (fish-like)
    equine (horse-like)
    serpentine
    lupine (wolf-like)

    If you memorize those two lists, you will be more knowledgeable than the average English-speaking person. Also keep in mind that asinine, elephantine, and serpentine mean respectively dumb/foolish, huge, and windy/confusing/labyrinthine. Those three words are a little divorced from their animal adjective meanings.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Another 2 questions regarding animal adjectives and "gender variants".

    Quote Originally Posted by akeimi View Post
    additional animal adjectives I recognized while reading the list:
    asinine (I did not know it meant donkey-like... perhaps this is a homonym?)
    Merriam Webster gives this as the derivation of ass:

    Origin of ASS

    Middle English, from Old English assa, probably from Old Irish asan, from Latin asinus
    First Known Use: before 12th century
    Ass - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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