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Guten Tag! We have talked before on the blog about how ‘literal’ German words can be. Check out this blog post, and this one, for some examples. Today I’d like to continue on that theme with a post about animals. You are probably familiar with a few German animals, such as die Katze (cat), der Hund (dog) and der Hase (rabbit). But when you go beyond the common pets, you’ll find that a lot of animals have incredibly literal, often amusing names in the German language!
In German, a pig is das Schwein. But German has many different kinds of pigs:
lit. ‘spike pig’
lit. ‘water pig’
lit. ‘little ocean pig’
lit. ‘sea pig’
lit. ‘pig whale’
Moving away from pigs, here are some more, interesting German animal names:
lit. ‘sea dog’
lit. ‘threatening chicken’ (‘trut’ from Middle Low German ‘droten’ meaning ‘to threaten’)
lit. ‘naked snail’
lit. ‘ink fish’
lit. ‘flutter mouse’
lit. ‘shield toad’
Right now, you might be thinking that German is a very lazy language when it comes to naming its animals! With some animals, it goes one step further by simply naming a feature or characteristic of the animal and following this up with the word ‘Tier’ – the German word for ‘animal’:
lit. ‘lazy animal’
lit. ‘belt animal’
lit. ‘mumble animal’
lit. ‘beak animal’
lit. ‘stink animal’
Other German animal names to look out for include der Dachshund, the little German ‘sausage dog’ whose name actually translates to ‘badger dog’. You can read all about the Dachshund in this blog post by Larissa. The other is der Igel, which often catches people out because it is pronounced like the English word ‘eagle’. Don’t be fooled: an Igel is, in fact, a hedgehog! The German word for eagle is der Adler.
I hope you’ve found this interesting! Can you think of any other German animal names with incredibly literal and/or interesting translations? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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