Are you familiar with Admiral Zheng He
? (See especially the third paragraph of the "Expeditions" section).
Huh, I knew he went to a lot of places but at least consciously didn't remember that he'd gone to Africa too. There was a documentary about him either on TV or that I watched on Youtube or something, which probably mentioned it at least in passing, but honestly all I remembered was that he'd gone to Arabia and Indonesia, etc.
Really interesting, especially learning that he literally was given zebras, camels, giraffes, etc. and that he actually took at least one giraffe back to China, because then maybe it could
be possible that they influenced mythology to some degree, if new "neo-mythological" animals were "invented" as a result. Then again, the Wikipedia article says at least the giraffe was simply matched to an old legendary creature rather than becoming thought of as a new one...
vijayjohn wrote:Really? Like what?
- giraffe хирс
- rhinoceros армаана
- hippopotamus үчимбэр
The first one is the only one that's definitely "mysterious" (according to Wiktionary) while the second one's etymology is also stated to be unknown on Wiktionary but compared to 麒麟
(lol, the same mythological animal mentioned as connected to giraffe in the Wikipedia article you linked; I knew the Chinese mythological animal has been compared to the western unicorn and had assumed that if it was connected to a real animal, it would be rhino, but apparently not at least in Chinese (I didn't know it can refer to a giraffe, or if I did, I forgot)).
I can't find an etymology for the third one either, but it doesn't have an entry on Wiktionary so I don't know if it's considered unknown. I guess the fourth one could maybe be from Middle Persian with some suffix if the č~z alteration that happened in at least the word wāzār
("bazaar") happened in this one too, since the Middle Persian word for cheetah is yōz
? Cheetahs did exist in Persia in the past (and a few still exist in Iran!?!?!
), so it wouldn't be that weird imho...
Maybe the first and third one could be somehow connected etymologically, if the ана
part in both is the same; apparently ан
can mean "beast", so maybe it's related to that? If that was the case, it wouldn't really be mysterious at all, but then what would the rest of the etymologies be and who coined them? At least I can't find anything that could make sense in any online dictionaries. If only the Mongolian dictionary I ordered came already... but the post office is having a strike right now, too, so it might be delayed...
Anyway, I could've sworn there was an article or blog post or whatever on the "mystery" of how Khalkha has apparently native words for animals that exist nowhere near Mongolia and aren't found in other Mongolian dialects or other Mongolic languages; I even remember the detail that it was on a site that had some red text, so based on that I'd have thought it was on amritas.com or maybe BabelStone, but judging by Google, apparently not, and I can't find any results about the "mystery". Then again, Google has gotten more selective recently... but still...