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5 Responses to Raccoons

  1. Very interesting. I love these cross-linguistic labyrinths of fauna&flora words.

    For more confusion, English translations often call tanuki “badgers” or “racoons” and only rarely “racoon-dog” (and I think the latter is what is typically intended, with the caveats you noted in the other thread). So Mustelidæ, Procyon lotor and Nyctereutes procyonoides all become confused unless one takes the time to investigate.

    Pointless trivia—famous videogame character Mario could acquire a tanuki suit in Super Mario Bros. 3; what’s interesting is that “tanuki” was not translated, but simply got an anglicized spelling as “Tanooki”. What was in the original a “tail Mario” was translated as “racoon”, which makes sense given its flat, stripped tail; so that Super Mario 3 from 1988 actually distinguished racoons from tanuki.

    also, we need to take care to distinguish raccoon dogs with a dogs for the hunting of racoons!

  2. khanbaliqist says:

    Leonard, I haven’t got up the courage to tackle the tanuki head on just yet. I think it’s rather complex historically and there are lots of question marks. There is a great page on tanuki at Tanuki in Japanese Artwork.

  3. That’s a good page, I’ll take the time to read it. Undoubtedly popular names, folklore, and linguistic variation (geographical and historical) all present significant complications to biological vocabulary. On the folklore side, Blacker’s The Catalpa Bow is disappointly sparse on tanuki; but she advances a thesis from Yanagita Kunio that a variety of dogs and foxes are all fundamentally the same folkloric kitsune figurel; they’re invariably described as “long, thin, with reddish-brown fur, short legs and sharp claws”, and they can possess people, become invisible, and make contracts with evil people (fox-users, kitsunedzukai). The examples given are, as a dog: inugami in Shikoku and Chūgoku; izuna in Tōhoku, Aomori, Iwate; gedō in Hiroshima; and, as a fox, ninko 人狐 in Izumo; yako in Kyūshū; osaki in the Kantō area; and kuda in Shizuoka, Nagano, Yamanashi.

  4. Carl says:

    The Korean is mistranscribed. 미국너구리 is “migugneoguli” not “migungneoguri”.

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