9 Comments

  1. Caulfield thought The Golden Hind was referring to a rear end and felt cheated. Hind also refers to a female red deer. Frazz suggests looking up Wapiti. “Wapiti is another name for the American Elk, taken from a Shawnee Indian word meaning “white rump,” an appropriate description for the elk’s large rump patch.” Originally it was thought that elk were related to the red deer. I guess Frazz thinks Caulfield will have fun with this information.

  2. Thanks, Mona. I had looked up “wapiti”, but while my sources
    took its etymology back to Amerindian sources, they didn’t give
    the meaning.

  3. Wapiti is also growing as the preferred nomenclature, particularly among science-minded folks, because in the rest of the English-speaking world “elk” means “moose”. Early English settlers had never seen Alces alces, so they adopted a native name (Algonquin, I think).

    Which reminds me of the story of the Scotsman who visited a zoo in the States and found himself in front of the enclosure labeled “American moose”. To which he responded, “If that’s an American moose, I dinnae want tae see an American rat!”

  4. The history behind “elk” and “moose” is very convoluted. As near as I can tell, what North Americans call “moose”, Alces alces, is referred to by cognates of the word “elk” in Eurasia. (I’ll refer to it as a moose from now on since it’s unambiguous.) Since the moose had disappeared from Britain by the time of North American colonization, the English word “elk” had come to mean any very large cervid (member of the deer family). So of course when the English settlers got to North America and saw not one but two species of very large deer (not even counting the caribou/reindeer), they naturally called them “elk”. (Sometimes moose were “black elk” and wapiti were “grey elk”.)

    Eventually, among the settlers, “elk” stuck for the wapiti and they adopted “moose” from the Algonquin.

    Ironically, the native term for the wapiti is more common in Eurasia than in North America, due to the fact that “elk” was already taken!

  5. Well, here’s a deer joke that will be more accessible than Mallett’s, then.
    Q: What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?
    A: Beer nuts often cost two or three dollars, but you can get deer nuts just under a buck.

  6. @woozy: He’s smart, but he’s also 9 or 10. He’s going to have gaps in his knowledge and a kid’s sense of humor.

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