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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Monday, February 06, 2017


"...to purr as a cat: rorarora."
This perfectly onomotopoeic (= a word that sounds just like its action) word comes from a language once called Secwana.  I found it in a dictionary old enough to call it that and not the present-day Tswana. Tswana is a Bantu language spoken by about 5 million people in southern Africa.
A language's words can paint a vivid picture of its speakers' interaction with their world.  To this end, I went looking for Tswana words about their animal companions.  Here are some more.

to scratch as a cat: napa.
A dog, as distinguished from a bitch, seheke; 
a lean, starved dog, mokgara; 
an old and poor dog, motau; 
a wild dog, leteane, lekanyana, letlhalerwa; 
to scratch a hole, as a dog, hata; 
a sleeping place of a dog, or a hole scratched in the ground, kutla;
to snap at, as a dog, kgogogela;
to be angry, as a dog, tlhonya;
to doctor a dog so as to make it fierce, galodisa; 
the medicine for making a dog fierce, kgalola; 
a dog's lying-in place, serubi; 
a little dog, ncana;
the dog is angry, nca e tlhontse. 

 - Brown, J. Tom d. 1925. (1895). Secwana dictionary: Secwana-English and English-Secwana. Frome [Eng.]: printed for the London Missionary Society by Butler & Tanner. Passim.

1 comment:

Roby Sweet said...

Very interesting! "Rorarora" is such a perfect word for a cat's purr.