E. N. Anderson reviews Mayan naming conventions for animals (loan shifting).

E. N. Anderson

E. N. Anderson, Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 2005), 66

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E. N. Anderson
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With the Spanish came the full panoply of Mediterranean domestic creatures. The Maya quickly named them after their nearest local equivalents. The burro and cow had no local equivalents and became just burro and wahax (Sp. vacas—the plural being borrowed, no doubt, because cattle were always in herds and thus discussed in plural form). Other animals, though, had obvious local relatives. The horse was assimilated into the tapir, tsiimin; today the word has become transferred so completely to the horse that the Maya use the Spanish danta or tapir (both borrowed from other Native American languages!) to refer to the tapir itself. The pig was named after the white-lipped peccary, k'eek'en; the wild white-lipped peccary then became the k'eek'en ij k'aax ("forest pig"). The brocket deer, yuk, gave its name to the goat. The chicken was the kaaxlan, "Castilian," later shortened to kaax. This name is already attested in the Motul dictionary at the beginning of the seventeenth century. All these animals were soon adopted as farm stock. Sheep were named not for an animal but for a plant: they were aj taman, "cotton animal." Today, the old prefix aj has been lost, making the animal indistinguishable from the plant, which can be confusing unless the context is clear.

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