Talk:onager

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The following discussion has been moved from the page User talk:Fay Freak.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.


wild ass/wild-ass/onager[edit]

An onager is of species Equus hemionus, the Asiatic wild asses.

African wild asses are of species Equus asinus

wild ass (BTW, not wild-ass, which is much less common) is more generic and includes feral domesticated asses. The precise relationship of domesticated asses to wild ones is uncertain, as is typical of domesticated organisms.

For Asiatic FLs, the terms used in reference to what we call onagers almost certainly originate in reference to any local wild asses (ie, onagers) or to domesticated asses if they are ancient in those locales. The local species or subspecies are more or less the unscientific type for each FL word. Just as Westerners named local non-European species after the European ones they were familiar with (eg, robin), so for most true vernacular names in other languages. Further, some languages, like English, Finnish, and Navajo at Wiktionary, have some "vernacular" names that correspond closely to taxonomic names.

I don't know whether or not each of the translations at [[onager]] belongs there. I would be very averse to moving them in bulk. DCDuring (talk) 19:38, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

So do you think it is wrong usage to apply onager to any wild ass, today or formerly? These developments you yourself describe are precisely the reasons why I found it unpromising to map wild-ass-names to English terms without precautions. There is a point when vernacular names become underspecified. I of course see that the Finnish and Indonesian specifically relate to the Asiatic wild asses, they can stay well. What I would like is some “see-also” template to the article wild-ass just to make sure people know what they add to. Don’t know if {{trans-see}} fits – this template seems to imply that the meaning in its headline is present in the article under which it is. Or what is the best formatting to refer to other translation sections @DCDuring?
BTW the problems are direr for animal sound imitations, like I have recently refactored croak, caw, ribbit. Fay Freak (talk) 20:34, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
It's hard to say "wrong". As onagers are not greatly different from other wild asses, if onager (or relative) is applied to a culture's first experiences of wild asses, onager could be applied to all wild asses. If one can find an honest dictionary for each FL, one could get evidence as to the scope of the word in each FL. Etymologically, both Latin asinus and onager were used in reference to the asses of Asia Minor. Onager (< ὄναγρος (ónagros) < ὄνος (ónos) ἄγριος (ágrios)) was apparently used in reference to wild asses, with asinus apparently used of domesticated and human ones.
I think we have to allow for the possibility that all the Romance language derivatives of onager could be used both narrowly and broadly, certainly if there is no competing word, eg, one derived from asinus, but even if there were such. I agree with efforts to describe the ambiguity in the use of the FL onager derivatives if there is ambiguity or to simplify if the overwhelming majority of usage in each FL is with the definition "any wild ass".
This kind of question has been on my mind lately. (See WT:RFT#mico.) I have been thinking generally of the need to try to understand 'vulgar' vernacular names, like bug, insect (does the vulgar term include spiders and ticks?), tick, fly, beetle, both without and with reference to taxonomic names. In the past I have tried this on the entry for iron, for which definitions that exclusively rely on physics and chemistry don't correspond to popular experience. (Is steel a kind of iron in popular use of the words? Is rust iron?) DCDuring (talk) 01:16, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
It's interesting that no derivative of onager appears in the numerous translations at ass and donkey. DCDuring (talk) 01:25, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
  • We should probably move this discussion to Talk:onager, if not now, then when we are done. DCDuring (talk) 01:27, 10 August 2018 (UTC)