Names for ‘ladybug’ in Udmurt

The Диалектологический атлас удмуртского языка edited by R. I. Nasibullin et al. (Iževsk: R&C Dynamics, 2009) has a series of maps showing the distributions of the Udmurt names for various things across the area where the language is spoken. For the most items, there are only a few variants, and in the case of borrowing, Russian loans are prevalent in the north of the Udmurt Republic while Tatar loans are prevalent in the south.

The word for ‘ladybug’ (Russian божья коровка) is a different story. The atlas lists 124 variants.

Some of these are very colourful: ӵужанай ‘maternal grandmother’, вӧйын нянь сиись ‘bread-and-butter eater’. A large number are formed with зор ‘rain’ (< Volga Bulgarian, cf. Chuvash ҫур ‘snow’). Nasibullin examines these names more closely in his article“Божья коровка” в удмуртских говорах’ in the journal Иднакар (issue 2007-2).

Amusingly, after the myriad names for ‘ladybug’, the atlas documents only one name (with varying vocalism) for that most common pest on Earth, the cockroach: торокан/ таракан/тӓрӓкӓн (cf. Russian таракан).

(If this kind of variation fascinates you, in North America, the various names for the family Armadillidiidae, which I grew up calling a roly poly, have also been mapped.)

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