100 ways to say bear?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Alxmrphi, Nov 10, 2006.

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  1. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I read a fact that there are over 100 ways to say "bear" in the Finnish language, my question is, a) is this true? and b) are there any other words in English that have a number of ways to say them in another language?

    What need would these words have to, demand so many words in one language, but only one in another? Is it a cultural thing?
  2. Elibennet

    Elibennet Senior Member

    Buenos Aires Argentina - castellano
    The typical example in linguistics is that of Eskimos. They have a lot of ways (I don´t remember how many) to say "snow". It is a question of necessity.
    My students often complain when they have to learn the different ways of smiling, walking, speaking, etc. in English. We don´t have so many equivalents in Spanish. The English seem to be more specific, or rather, more economical. Where in Spanish we say "Mostró una amplia sonrisa", the English would simply say "He grinned".
    Now, as to your question, I can´t imagine why the Finnish could need so many words to say "bear"!
  3. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    What's the end of that quip? The eskimos have lots of ways of saying snow, but no word for sparrow or something, some bird which has recently pushed far north due to global warming.
  4. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
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