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11

First, I think speculating on what people actually know based on what options the language provides is too speculative. For example, I don't know the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin, even though the English language provides the option to specify either one. So the issue of what Japanese speakers know should simply be put aside. However, it is ...


10

The OP's comment just now is on the right track: 小猫 certainly could be just a small cat. 仔猫 would be more common in science, but for a different reason than you guessed: 仔 is actually the correct character for a child animal, but it's not one of the 1945 -- er, 2136 as of last year, is it? -- 常用漢字. Since 子 looks and means almost the same, it took on the ...


7

The Japanese Wikipedia has an entry for 益虫 which links to the English Beneficial insects, while 害虫 links to Pest. However, unlike the English term it does look like 益虫 include not only insects (昆虫) but also other small animals: 益虫(えきちゅう、英: Beneficial insects)とは、何らかの形で人間の生活に役に立つ、昆虫など小動物のことを指していう言葉である。 "Beneficial insects(?)" refers the the various ...


5

Referring to Japanese Wikipedia, it seems the main difference is that アヒル is used for domestic ducks and 鴨 for wild ducks. According to this Chiebukuro post, 家鴨{あひる} "house duck" came about due to selective breeding from 真鴨{まがも} "true duck" or "mallards". Apparently the former is a tame duck created for food and enjoyment. I think there's a fair amount of ...


4

Apparently the reading comes from "毛の物", (as くだもの = 木【く】の物), so both mean "beast" as in "furry mammal" (although I'm sure it will stretch to cover those hairless cats). けだもの has an additional meaning that けもの doesn't, when applied to people (strongly negative, like "he's a monster"). That might also be the reason that 獣道 uses the more neutral reading けもの ...



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