Showing posts with label Native Americans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Native Americans. Show all posts

Wednesday 8 February 2023

What is the native American word for 'panther'?

Realistically, you can't answer the question in the title. I will tell you why. There are hundreds of different Native American tribes and languages. The native-languages.org website lists the most popular Native American languages of which there are 30. 

These are the most popular but, as mentioned, there are far more. It is simply impractical and I would suggest impossible to find out how these Native Americans used or still do refer to the mountain lion in their own language.

Cree man and puma
Image: MikeB

I'm going to presume that the word "panther" in this context is a reference to the mountain lion which is better described as the "puma". This is the most scientific term.

The puma has the most names in any case, not including Native American languages, of all the wild cat species. This is a very complicated picture.

Let's take one of the native languages of the Americas: Cree. I have selected them at random. It is spoken by more than 70,000 people across southern Canada and into Montana. It is an Algonquian language apparently. And there are five major Cree dialects. 

The Cree are Canada's largest native group with 200,000 registered members. There are dozens of self-government nations.

The most popular or commonly spoken native language is Quechua. There are approximately 8 million speakers and they live in the Andean region of South America. It is the language of the Inca empire of Peru.

Interestingly, the official name of the mountain lion, as mentioned, the puma, is a word which comes from the Quechua language.

The name puma first appeared in 1609 when Garcilasso de la Vega, the son of a Spanish conquistador and an Incan Princess wrote, "Lions are met with, though they are not so large not so fierce as those of Africa. The Indians call them Puma." 

The AI computer ChatGPT responds to the question in the title as follows:

"The native American word for panther varies among different indigenous cultures. Some common words for panther include "puma" or "cougar" in the Americas, and "mountain lion" in some western tribes. In some Eastern tribes, it's referred to as "catamount." The exact word used for panther can also depend on the specific language and dialect of the indigenous culture."
I thought that it is wasn't very helpful 😎.

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