Giraffe in 10 languages.
The name is believed to have come from the Arabic zarafa or the Somali geri. The old English name was camelopard, coming from the Ancient Greek and Roman belief that it was a hybrid of a camel and a leopard. I love that the direct translation of the Chinese is a ‘long-necked deer’! In Irish, the ‘si’ is pronounced ‘sh’ so the overall sound is very similar to most other European languages, most of which are believed to be descended from the French ‘le giraffe’
I have always been fascinated by these strange, gangly yet elegant creatures. There are a collection of folktales telling how the giraffe’s neck became so long. They have also appeared in artwork – I found out recently that the largest petroglyph in the world is of two giraffes! They have been afforded high status in various cultures, including the Chinese who thought it might be a qilin, a mythological creature. The Ancient Egyptians even gave the giraffe its own hieroglyph.
Giraffes are listed as ‘vulnerable’ which is one step away from endangered and there are estimated just over 100,000 in the world, including those in the wild and in captivity.
How is your language learning going this year?