German has some cracking words. It can sometimes be a model for us Anglishers to follow — although I have repeatedly and specifically warned against a Germanising English.* But the language does still give us some good ideas for word formations. Below are a few German animal names in a delightful chart.
These animal names are characterised by heavy use of compounding from a small number of roots. Could we follow suit in English?
I’ve personally got a bit of an –apple fetish; we used to use this word in compounds quite often and we could do so again. I mean, we’ve already got “pineapple” and “custard apple“. But what about those ‘love apples’ (French pomme d’amour) or ‘golden apples’ (Italian pomodoro, “tomato”), those ‘earth apples’ (French pomme de terre “potatoes”), or those ‘many-seeded apples’ (“pomegranate”, ultimately from Latin pomum granatum ‘apple with many seeds’, in Classical Latin it was malum granatum ‘seeded apple’).
So yes, let’s make more productive use of our own, homegrown, English roots, instead of borrowing words for everything.
Also, check out these two pages: http://www.babbel.com/magazine/german-animal-names-video and http://www.babbel.com/magazine/funny-animal-names-in-german
*For example, see here.
© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry