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Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:36 pm
by Berislav Horvatic
Maybe a bit "off-topic", but not quite so...

In the Slovene language Natrix tessellata is called "kobranka", while "kobra" is, of course, "cobra"...
https://sl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobranka
"Kobranka (znanstveno ime Natrix tessellata) po videzu, strupenosti in življenjskih navadah prav nič
ne spominja na kobro."
In the first sentence they make clear that N. tessellata has nothing to do with a cobra, either in aspect,
or in toxicity, or in its way of life. (There is also a "caveat" that scientific names and "popular" names
can be, and often are, quite apart.)
There is, however, no attempt to explain the "popular" name... Either it's just an invented "popular"
name, or... I don't know, maybe some of the Slovenes does?

BTW, the Croatian "popular" name is simply and plainly "ribarica", meaning "fisher" or "fisherman", only
in the female grammatical gender, that is "fisher-woman". I suppose, for the very simple reason that
"snake" ("zmija") in Croatian is of female (grammatical) gender, just as in e.g. German (DIE Schlange).

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:25 pm
by Michal Szkudlarek
Berislav Horvatic wrote:Maybe a bit "off-topic", but not quite so...

In the Slovene language Natrix tessellata is called "kobranka", while "kobra" is, of course, "cobra"...
https://sl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobranka
"Kobranka (znanstveno ime Natrix tessellata) po videzu, strupenosti in življenjskih navadah prav nič
ne spominja na kobro."
In the first sentence they make clear that N. tessellata has nothing to do with a cobra, either in aspect,
or in toxicity, or in its way of life. (There is also a "caveat" that scientific names and "popular" names
can be, and often are, quite apart.)
There is, however, no attempt to explain the "popular" name... Either it's just an invented "popular"
name, or... I don't know, maybe some of the Slovenes does?

BTW, the Croatian "popular" name is simply and plainly "ribarica", meaning "fisher" or "fisherman", only
in the female grammatical gender, that is "fisher-woman". I suppose, for the very simple reason that
"snake" ("zmija") in Croatian is of female (grammatical) gender, just as in e.g. German (DIE Schlange).

In Polish żmija denotes members of Vipera genus only. Snake is wąż- this word comes from proto-slavic language. We have Natrix tesselata in Poland too but it is quite new species to herpetofauna of Poland so we call it "zaskroniec rybołów". The name refers to bright patches on head and piscivory. Natrix natrix is just "zaskroniec".

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:09 pm
by Berislav Horvatic
Michal Szkudlarek wrote:In Polish żmija denotes members of Vipera genus only. Snake is wąż- this word comes from proto-slavic language. We have Natrix tesselata in Poland too but it is quite new species to herpetofauna of Poland so we call it "zaskroniec rybołów". The name refers to bright patches on head and piscivory. Natrix natrix is just "zaskroniec".

Well, in "standard" Croatian, it's just the opposite: zmija = snake, while "vuž" or "guž" is a dialectal term for Colubridae only... In the Čakavian dialect of Croatian "kaška" means "viper", while in Slovene "kača" means "snake" in general...
One day I might sort all that out, but at the moment it's too late in the evening...

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:59 am
by Ilian Velikov
Now, that´s a bit "off-topic" :D However, I like semantics, so here's my contribution. In Bulgarian "zmiya" which is pronounced exactly like the Croatian "zmija" (but written in Cyrilic, obviously) simply means "snake" and is used generally for ALL snakes. The word for colubrid is "smok" (not sure if it even has Slavic origin) but it somehow implies a big snake and is usually only used for the large species (e.g. Dolichophis, Zamenis, Malpolon...). The two Natrix species are just "vodna zmiya"(water snake), and we don't have a special word for vipers or venomous snakes but call the two vipers we have with their proper species vernacular names: berus "usoinitza", ammodytes "pepelianka". It is interesting that everybody, and I mean everybody (even grannies) know and use the species vernacular names of the two vipers but don't know or care about the other species and use general terms for them. I guess it has survival value to exactly distinguish between the two potentially dangerous ones and all the rest.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm
by Berislav Horvatic
Ilian Velikov wrote: The word for colubrid is "smok" (not sure if it even has Slavic origin) but it somehow implies a big snake and is usually only used for the large species (e.g. Dolichophis, Zamenis, Malpolon...).

In Croatian/Serbian it's "smuk", so I would say it is Slavic.
It is interesting that everybody, and I mean everybody (even grannies) know and use the species vernacular names of the two vipers but don't know or care about the other species and use general terms for them. I guess it has survival value to exactly distinguish between the two potentially dangerous ones and all the rest.

Yes, same in the Western Balkans, and for the same reasons.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:12 pm
by Ruggero Morimando
In portuguese "snake" is "cobra".
"Culebra" (coluber = harmless snake) is a very similar word to "cobra" too: maybe a coincidence, maybe not...
Probably/maybe the root of the word "cobra" had the ancient meaning of "snake" in general and has nothing to do with the attitude of true cobras (and many other snakes) to flatten the neck in a hood-like way.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:48 pm
by Ilian Velikov
Berislav Horvatic wrote:In Croatian/Serbian it's "smuk", so I would say it is Slavic.

To kick some "political dust" for those who are touchy on the subject - just because it is the same in Croatian/Serbian doesn't prove that it has Slavic origin. Many words in the languages of Balkan people have Latin, Greek, Turkish or further east Asian origin ;) I'm currently discovering how many common words Spanish and Bulgarian have, including some basic grammatical rules such as that female gender words end with "a".

Ruggero Morimando wrote:In portuguese "snake" is "cobra".
"Culebra" (coluber = harmless snake) is a very similar word to "cobra" too: maybe a coincidence, maybe not...
Probably/maybe the root of the word "cobra" had the ancient meaning of "snake" in general and has nothing to do with the attitude of true cobras (and many other snakes) to flatten the neck in a hood-like way.


In Spanish there is a verb "cobra" which means "to earn". Nothing related to snakes, so this one needs further research ;)

Here's another interesting one:
Alligator > from Spanish "el lagarto" (the lizard). Most likely came from the first Spanish visitors to the Americas who had no other way to describe this creature new to them.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:57 pm
by Ilian Velikov
Ilian Velikov wrote:In Spanish there is a verb "cobra" which means "to earn". Nothing related to snakes, so this one needs further research


OK, so you were right Ruggero ;)

mid 17th century: from Portuguese "cobra de capello", literally ‘snake with hood’, based on Latin colubra ‘snake’.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:32 pm
by Berislav Horvatic
Ilian Velikov wrote:To kick some "political dust" for those who are touchy on the subject - just because
it is the same in Croatian/Serbian doesn't prove that it has Slavic origin.

Look at the Proto-Slavic root *smukъ and its derivations in various Slavic languages.

Re: Hierophis viridiflavus feigning death when handled

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:46 pm
by Michal Szkudlarek
Berislav Horvatic wrote:
Ilian Velikov wrote:To kick some "political dust" for those who are touchy on the subject - just because
it is the same in Croatian/Serbian doesn't prove that it has Slavic origin.

Look at the Proto-Slavic root *smukъ and its derivations in various Slavic languages.

Reminds me of Polish "smok" what means "dragon".