What are mouthing and mock biting?
I’m trying to understand what mouthing and mock biting mean. Here is the context — it describes a monkey reconciliation behavior:
After a fight, stump-tailed macaques have ritualized reconciliation behaviors: the subordinate presents his rump to the dominant individual that acknowledges the gesture. The dominant male may embrace and kiss the subordinate, which will respond with “teeth chattering” and “lip smacking,” both signs of submission. Finally, the subordinate offers a hand to the dominant individual who will softly mouth or “mock bite” the hand. After this interaction, the bond is purportedly restored and the dominance hierarchy is reinforced (de Waal 1993; Srivastava 1999).
Source: Primate Fact Sheet on the Stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides) at http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/stump-tailed_macaque/behav
Since the question has been downvoted and put on hold, maybe because it sounds too obvious to native English speakers, it might be useful to add that:
- I did not find anything about these expressions.
- When translated word-by-word into French, neither expression makes any sense.*
I therefore surmise that since a direct calque into French makes no sense for these terms, they must have some special non-literal/idiomatic meaning that is greater than the sum of their individual words.
The closest I can find in French for mock bite seems to be mordiller, meaning a serie of gentle bites. I could make out the sense, though I have never seen any simians (like a chimpanzee ape or a macaque monkey) doing that.
To mouth seems to mean in this context “to put one’s hand in one’s mouth” but I doubt that applies here in the case because a macaque’s hand is quite big.
* As an aside, if anyone happens to know a good French equivalent for these terms, whatever they really mean in English, I'd be very interested to learn these. But I can’t translate these into French until I learn what they actually mean in English.