A is for Bee

A is for BEE: An Alphabet Book in Translation, by Ellen Heck, is a delightful alphabet book for children. Each page lists one or more words starting with the same letter and has bright pictures illustrating each word. The pages are in alphabetical order.

This is an alphabet book with a twist: each page lists words in several language. Each word on that page starts with the same letter, although its English counterpart starts with a different letter. For example, the eponymous first page lists 4 words, in 4 languages, with each word meaning ‘bee’ and with each one starting with the letter <A>.

The book contains words from 68 languages. There is a listing of the words at https://www.levinequerido.com/a-is-for-bee
You can hear the words pronounced at https://www.levinequerido.com/aisforbee

Here are the words. I have added some comments in [square brackets]

A is for Bee

  • Aamoo in Ojibew
  • Abelha in Portuguese [like French Abeille]
  • Arı in Turkish
  • Ánụ́ in Igbo

B is for monkey

  • Bojog in Balinese
  • Beždžiõnė in Lithuanian [according to https://en.wiktionary.org/ borrowed from Russian обезья́на (obezʹjána)]
  • Biri in Hausa
  • Bandar in Hindi

C is for Parrot

  • Chiluka in Telugu
  • Chinkhwe in Chichewa
  • Cochotl in Nahuatl. This is white-fronted parrot (Amazona albifrons), no general word for parrot

D is for Turtle

  • Daksi in Cherokee
  • Deckelsmouk in Luxembourgish
  • Dortoka in Basque
  • Dtào in Thai

E is for Snail

  • Etmaewig in Chechen
  • Escargot in French
  • Etana in Finnish
  • Elagwa in Cherokee

F is for butterfly

  • Farasha in Arabic
  • Farfalla in Italian
  • Flutur in Albanian
  • Féileacán in Irish

G is for cat

  • Gato in Spanish
  • Gaazhagens in Ojibwe
  • Goyangi in Korean

H is for tiger

  • Harimau in Indonesian
  • Huli in Kannada

I is for fish

  • Inhlanzi in Zulu
  • Ikan in Malay
  • Iqalluk in Alutiiq
  • Iwak in Javanese
  • Isda in Tagalog

J is for Ostrich

  • Jaanalind in Estonian
  • Jaylam in Armenian
  • Jimina in Hausa

K is for giraffe

  • Kaelkirjak in Estonian
  • Kirahvi in Finnish
  • Kamilopárdali in Greek
  • Kakīroa in Maori [Literal meaning long neck. The Maori for ostrich is manu kakīroa—‘bird long neck’]

L is for rabbit

  • Lāpaki in Hawaiian
  • Lapin in French
  • Lepur in Albanian

M is for jellyfish

  • Manet in Swedish
  • Meduza in Russian
  • Marglytta in Icelandic
  • Marmoka in Basque

N is for sloth

  • Namuneulbo in Korean
  • Namakemono in Japanese
  • Ndilna’ii in Navajo

O is for eagle

  • Odler in Yiddish [presumably related to German Adler]
  • Orzeł in Polish
  • Orel in Ukrainian [the Polish and Ukranian words are clearly cognates: words inherited from a common word in an ancestral language.]

P is for flamingo

  • Plameňák in Czech
  • Pariwana in Quechua
  • Parina in Aymara

Q is for frog

  • Qīngwā in Mandarin
  • Qurbağa in Azerbaijani

R is for fox

  • Renard in French
  • Raev in Danish
  • Róka in Hungarian
  • Rovî in Kurdish
  • Rubâh in Persian

[It seems the Persian and Kurdish words for fox may both descend from Middle Persian rwpʾh (‘fox’). Proto-Indo-European ‘fox’ and the reconstruction of an athematic ḱ-stem in: Indo-European Linguistics Volume 9 Issue 1 (2021) (brill.com)—open access]

S is for lion

  • Sưtử in Vietnamese
  • Sher in Hindi
  • Simham in Malayalam
  • Sing-dtoo in Thai
  • Simba in Swahili

T is for octopus

  • Tako in Japanese
  • Tmanun in Hebrew
  • Tintenfisch in German [literally inkfish]

U is for mouse

  • Undīr in Marathi
  • Undar in Gujarati [the Marathi and Gujarati words are clearly cognates]
  • Ukucha in Quechua

V is for zebra

  • Varikkutirai in Tamil

W is for rhinoceros

  • Wahid Alqarn in Arabic
  • Wiyil in Somali
  • Wànga-lànga in Wolof

X is for bear

  • Xióng in Mandarin
  • Xóots in Tlingit. This is brown bear (ursus arctos). Black bear (Ursus americanus) is s’eek. Tlingit is spoken in NW North America.
  • Xers in Persian

Y is for porcupine

  • Yamaarashi in Japanese
  • Ystervark in Afrikaans

Z is for elephant

  • Zaan in Mongolian
  • Zehon in Amharic
  • Zilonis in Latvian
  • Zoo in Japanese

One comment

  1. I like the Greek word for giraffe: Kamilopárdali. It sounded like a camel-leopard, and sure enough that’s how the Greek language embraced the giraffe: The kamil part is because a giraffe has a long neck like a camel and the lopárdali part is because a giraffe has spots like a leopard.

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