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Linguistic bestiary – Just like dogs and cats (3/5)

What would our video meetings be if there were no cats to doggedly walk on their humans’ keyboards? What can Maurice be thinking as he goes around in circles in his jar? Pets occupy a central place in our lives, even more so since the pandemic: an importance that we find traces of in language and not only in French. This third episode of our linguistic bestiary is dedicated to them. We hear from here your cries of outrage: yes, we have taken sides in the war as old as the world between cats and dogs. But don’t worry, there is – still – something for everyone.

This episode contains twelve words and expressions in seven different languages:

  • Naschkötzchen: in German, this word, which could be translated as “greedy kitten”, denotes lovers of sweets. It corresponds to our sweet beak in French.
  • Dog Mute: a German expression meaning “tired as a dog,” that is, truly exhausted.
  • Das geht ab wie Schmitz Katze: to say that someone has gone off the rails, or that something has gone very fast, in German we can say that it “forged like Schmidt’s cat” – a very common family name across the Rhine.
  • Xī Māo (吸猫): literally “sniff your cat”, in Mandarin. A Chinese expression used to say that one appreciates the fact of staying at home and spending time with one’s pet.
  • hachiko (ハチ公): in Japan, this dog has become a real symbol of Shibuya station in Tokyo. He went there every day for ten years after the death of his master, whom he used to accompany on his way to work. His loyalty earned him the nickname Chuken (忠犬)or “faithful dog”, and a bronze statue was erected in his likeness near an exit from the station, which was christened Hachikō-guchi (ハチ公口), Or “Hachiko Exit”.
  • Average: it is an affectionate nickname given to ginger cats, especially valued in Malaysia. In this Muslim-majority country, cats are adored because they are considered the favorite animals of the Prophet. The nickname is a derivative of the word goldenwhich means “orange”.
  • Negro Matapacos: in Chile, this dog originally called “el negro” – “the black one” – inherited the nickname “police killer” after participating in large student demonstrations in 2011 to demand reform of the education system. You can be sure he didn’t kill anyone: legend has it that he simply barked at the police during the protests and sided with the students.
  • Loukanikos (Λουκάνικος) : In Greece, this word denotes very popular small sausages, but also a dog that became a mascot for the demonstrations in 2011 against the austerity measures imposed by the EU.
  • Boss: another dog becomes a mascot, but this time in Ukraine. This Ukrainian army dog ​​received the dedication medal from President Zelensky in May 2022 after detecting 236 Russian explosives.

The first two episodes of our series can be (re)listened to here:

The next ones will be published every day of the week in “Réveil Courrier”, until Friday 26 May.

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