Common names for Cricetus cricetus (Rodentia: Cricetidae)

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Abstract

We list over a hundred vernacular names for Cricetus cricetus, which are in use in English and in languages spoken within the distribution range of the species. These names belong to 36 languages (including three historical languages: Old Slavonic, Old Czech, Old High German) from nine linguistic groups: Slavic (13 spoken languages), Uralic (6), Turkic (4), German (3), Romanic (3), Romani (1), Iranian (1), Mongolic (1), and Chinese (1). The two currently most used names (Hamster, Cricetus) have roots in Slavic languages. “Hamster” and names related to it (Hamsterul, Homyak, Chomik, Komak) originate from the Old Slavonic “Homěstor”. “Skrzeczeck”/“Skreczecz” (Polish) is an example of onomatopoeia, an imitation of the hamster’s vocalization and is closely associated with various names in other Slavic languages (Skrečok, Křeč, Křeček, Chrček, Hrček, Hrčak, Gerčik), German (Grentsch, Krietsch), Romanian (Hârciog), and Hungarian (Hörcsög), and with the scientific tautonym Cricetus cricetus. Cricetus was first used by Albertus Magnus in the 13th century.

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