And “Hen” (their mother) isn’t much looking forward to it either.
Why? I can answer that question myself: it’s because they are all turkeys.
- Tom is an adult male turkey (also often referred to as a ‘gobbler’).
- Hen is an adult female turkey.
- Jake is a young male turkey.
- Jenny is a young female turkey.
Very often when we decide to name our pets we give them human names, and we may even converse with them as if they understand us and are able to reply. I believe this is called anthropomorphism: “considering animals, objects, etc., as having human qualities”. I can also understand how we become attached to our pets, allowing them to live in our homes and become, for all intents and purposes, members of our families.
- Would it be true to say that in naming the male and female domestic animals (those bred for food, transportation, work etc.), many were personified by giving them human names?
In order to avoid possible confusion; I am talking about classification; for example, hen the female chicken, cock/rooster the male, and chick the young are distinct words which are not common first names, whereas tom, jake, and jenny are.
As far as I am aware this does not happen in the Italian language. To provide a few examples from Italian:
- papero e papera = drake/(female) duck
- asino e asina = jack or jackass/(female donkey) jenny
- cavallo e giumenta = horse/mare
- gatto e gatta = tomcat/(female cat) queen
- gallo e gallina = rooster/hen
- tacchino e tacchino femmina = (turkey) tom/hen
- canguro, canguro femmina e cucciolo di canguro1 = buck or jake/(female kangaroo) jill/(young) joey
I know not one instance where a domesticated farm animal in Italy is called by an Italian human name.
Is this phenomenon peculiar to English only? Can anyone explain its origins? For example, why were the adult and young male turkey both given male human names, and why is a young female turkey called a jenny?
Are there other examples in the animal kingdom where the young and adult animals have been given “human names”? I can think of only two others but they are both adults: Tom an adult male cat and drake an adult male duck (I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Drake used as a person’s name).
Edit: I added the terms for male, female, and young kangaroos to the original list.