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The bear in Eurasian plant names: motivations and models
Russian Acad Sci, Inst Linguist Studies, Tuchkov Pereulok 9, St Petersburg 199053, Russia..
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, EE-51003 Tartu, Estonia..
Univ Alaska Fairbanks, Dept Anthropol, Fairbanks, AK 99775 USA..
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2017 (English)In: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, ISSN 1746-4269, E-ISSN 1746-4269, Vol. 13, 14Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ethnolinguistic studies are important for understanding an ethnic group's ideas on the world, expressed in its language. Comparing corresponding aspects of such knowledge might help clarify problems of origin for certain concepts and words, e.g. whether they form common heritage, have an independent origin, are borrowings, or calques. The current study was conducted on the material in Slavonic, Baltic, Germanic, Romance, Finno-Ugrian, Turkic and Albanian languages. The bear was chosen as being a large, dangerous animal, important in traditional culture, whose name is widely reflected in folk plant names. The phytonyms for comparison were mostly obtained from dictionaries and other publications, and supplemented with data from databases, the co-authors' field data, and archival sources (dialect and folklore materials). More than 1200 phytonym use records (combinations of a local name and a meaning) for 364 plant and fungal taxa were recorded to help find out the reasoning behind bear-nomination in various languages, as well as differences and similarities between the patterns among them. Among the most common taxa with bear-related phytonyms were Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng., Heracieum sphondylium L., Acanthus mollis L., and Allium ursinum L., with Latin loan translation contributing a high proportion of the phytonyms. Some plants have many and various bear-related phytonyms, while others have only one or two bear names. Features like form and/or surface generated the richest pool of names, while such features as colour seemed to provoke rather few associations with bears. The unevenness of bear phytonyms in the chosen languages was not related to the size of the language nor the present occurence of the Brown Bear in the region. However, this may, at least to certain extent, be related to the amount of the historical ethnolinguistic research done on the selected languages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BIOMED CENTRAL LTD , 2017. Vol. 13, 14
Keyword [en]
Ethnobotany, Ethnolinguistics, Traditional knowledge, Phytonyms, Brown bear Ursus orctos Motivation, Latin calques
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology Languages and Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-320977DOI: 10.1186/s13002-016-0132-9ISI: 000395029600001PubMedID: 28222790OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-320977DiVA: diva2:1091724
Available from: 2017-04-27 Created: 2017-04-27 Last updated: 2017-04-27Bibliographically approved

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Svanberg, Ingvar
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