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In English we have a lot of very specific words for many animals. Male foxes are known as reynards or tods, female foxes are known as vixens, and baby foxes are known as kits.

It's not an isolated instance either. Bucks, does, and fawns. Bulls, cows or heifers, and calfs.

It's not even isolated by class. Roosters, hens, and chicks.

Does Japanese have this sort of word specificity, is there an affix of some sort, or are you forced to spell it out, so to speak, as when saying "young fox" or "baby fox".

I am specifically looking for what to call a "kit" or baby fox, since the closest translation I can find is キット which is obviously a loan word and doesn't even necessarily mean a fox kit but it would be good to know what to do in the future.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 18 down vote accepted

There's the prefix 子{こ}- 'child', sometimes spelled 仔:

 猫(ねこ)  →  子猫(こねこ)  'kitten'
 牛(うし)  →  子牛(こうし)  'calf'
 狐(きつね) →  子狐(こぎつね) 'kit'
 羊(ひつじ) →  子羊(こひつじ) 'lamb'
 豚(ぶた)  →  子豚(こぶた)  'piglet'
 犬(いぬ)  →  子犬(こいぬ)  'pup'
 鹿(しか)  →  子鹿(こじか)  'fawn'
 馬(うま)  →  子馬(こうま)  'foal'

It doesn't work for every word, though. 小鳥{ことり} is 'small bird', and for 'chick' you need to use something like ひよこ.

But it does work for your word, 子狐{こぎつね} 'kit'.

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Slightly more thorough answer. Thanks :-) –  Wesley Obenshain Jun 21 at 7:10
    
The 子 prefix rarely works for katakana animal names, which are numerous and would in fact easily outnumber the kana/kanji animal names. –  非回答者 Jun 24 at 1:33
    
@非回答者 *こぱんだ。*こらいおん。*こらっこ。*こまんとひひ。*こにんげん。 –  Choko Jun 28 at 16:32
    
@非回答者 こぎつね、こだぬき、こじか、こぐま、こざる・・・濁点がつくよ?でも、こどら、こびつじ、じゃないのねぇ。 –  Choko Jun 28 at 16:35
    
@Choko 連濁は後に来る単語の語頭子音がK,S,T,Hであることが原則ですねん。(従って「子ひつじ」は例外的。)カタカナ動物名に関しては、子コアラとか子フラミンゴって言わ‌​ないっていう意味やってん。 –  非回答者 Jun 29 at 9:45

You can get a lot of mileage out of prefixing the names of animals with 子【こ】-, which functions as a diminutive. For example, "kitten" is 子猫【こねこ】; "puppy" is 子犬【こいぬ】; "piglet" is 子豚【こぶた】.

This also works for foxes - the best way to say "kit" is 子狐【こぎつね】.

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This is exactly the sort of answer I was looking for. Thanks so much! –  Wesley Obenshain Jun 21 at 7:09

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