Gbajúmọ̀ ni agbe láwùjọ ẹyẹ, ẹyẹ tí kì í ṣènìyàn, ṣùgbọ́n t’ó paṣọ rẹ̀ láró.
The agbe bird is a fashionable bird in the society of birds, the bird, which though not human, has its dress very deeply dyed with indigo (a proverb on high taste).

Bí ojúmọ́ mọ́ lékèélékèé a yalé ẹlẹ́fun, agbe a yalé aláró, àlùkò a yalé olósùn. 
When the day dawns, the lékèélékèé bird makes for the home of the dealer in chalk, the agbe heads for the home of the indigo dealer, the àlùkò bird seeks the dealer in camwood resin (Diligent people never dally in pursuing their trade). From: Oyekan Owomoyela: Yoruba Proverbs.
 

I have a huge collection of Cuban books in Spanish language about Orisha. Reading these books I came across many Yorùbá names of sacrificial animals or animals mentioned in mythological stories. They were written in Lukumí: what some generations ago was spoken Yorùbá language is now a vocabulary known through these publications in a Spanish-influenced orthography, or is passed on orally on the island until today. ‘Eure’ stands for ‘ewúrẹ́’ (goat) or ‘oñí’ for ‘oyin’ (honey bee). Compare my article ‘The Incomplete Yorùbá Guide to Lukumí’. As a Yorùbá language student with a passion for Lukumí I was fascinated by the animal names and had the idea to quickly compile these words to have them pronounced by a Yorùbá native speaker. I opened my Lukumí vocabulary books and thought I would find around twenty animal names. I used two main sources: Lydia Cabrera’s ‘Anagó Vocabulario Lucumí (El Yoruba que se habla en Cuba)’ from 1970 and a cheap book I bought in a Cuban botánica around the year 2000. It is entitled ‘Diccionario Práctico Lucumí-Español’ and was typed on very bad paper. Additionally, I browsed through my Cuban olorisha, Ifá and Ozain libretas and various Lukumí dictionaries that circulate as pdf’s online and compared the entries.
 


To my surprise, the Lukumí books are full of animal names! I did not just find common domestic animal names, like Luk. ‘adié’ (hen), ‘ayá’ (dog) or ‘malú’ (cow). Instead, these Cuban books list many distinct African species! Some animal names from the African fauna have been adopted to the Caribbean environment, like it is the case with the generic term bushrat Yor. ‘eku’ and the Caribbean rodent hutia (Spanish ‘jutía’). This makes sense to me, although zoologists might not agree for all the names applied to other species, as many Yorùbá rodent names are used for the Caribbean hutia. Other ‘local’ Cuban animals received names from similar-looking African counterparts. The cattle egret became another name for the flamingo (or vice-versa the flamingo’s image was used to describe an egret?) or the ‘àlùkò’ and the ‘agbe’, colorful Yorùbá birds of blessing, became names for the peacock, the hyena became a wolf etc.
 

 In the Sacred Grove of Orisha Oshun in Òṣogbo, Nigeria, in a shrine built by Susanne Wenger: an ẹdun monkey, right before he stole the bananas out of my backpack. Once extinct there, they have been resettled a few years ago. ©Orisha Image

In the Sacred Grove of Orisha Oshun in Òṣogbo, Nigeria, in a shrine built by Susanne Wenger: an ẹdun monkey, right before he stole the bananas out of my backpack. Once extinct there, they have been resettled a few years ago. ©Orisha Image

Some animal species received a more generic meaning in Cuba. The Yor. ‘odídẹ’, known as African grey parrot and important for Orisha initiations, became a word for parrot (‘loro’) in Cuba. Names of different antelope species survived subsumed as ‘venado’, deer, or the Yor. ‘ẹdun’, the white-thighed colobus monkey sacred to Orisha Ìbéji, is translated simply as ‘monkey’. This is not very different to Yorùbáland, where I have also read exactly the same translations in online animal lists: ‘ẹdun’ as ‘monkey’ and ’àgbọ̀nrín’ as ‘deer’. For some people this information might be correct, but it raises questions about dictionary entries. Is it too general to describe ‘ẹdun’ as monkey? Is colobus monkey alright? Or do you need the exact Latin scientific classification? There are so many colobus monkey subspecies, some of them look very equal. And, is the ‘ẹdun’ in the Western part of Yorùbáland maybe different to the ‘ẹdun’ in the East, just because different types of colobus monkey subspecies are living there? Has anyone ever tried to apply this knowledge to Yorùbá terms? Does it matter? It has to stay practical at the end. I know how the ‘ẹdun’ monkeys in the Sacred Grove in Òṣogbo look like, I took many photos, but could not find their exact scientific classification. Definitely they are a type of colobus monkeys, and like Abraham’s dictionary says, they have ‘white thighs‘. There is a very similar-looking species living outside of Yorùbáland in the Niger delta. See the photo in this blogpost, that’s an ‘ẹdun’ monkey of Orisha Ìbéji from the grove in Òṣogbo. I think red colobus monkey with white thighs is a good and short description.

I found lots of insect names in the Lukumí vocabulary books, what was another surprise. Also, big African mammals survived through their role in Ifá stories and Orisha mythology, like the Luk. ‘ayanakú’ (elephant), the ‘kini’ (lion) or the ‘ekún’, originally a leopard, which changed its identity to a tiger. A tiger is neither African nor Caribbean, but I have heard native Yorùbá speakers from Nigeria using the name of this Asian cat, too. Tiger seems to be a common expression for ‘big predatory feline with a beautiful pattern on its fur’. Other Yorùbá names of common species I could not find in Lukumí vocabulary, like the ‘ọmọ́lé’, though I was sure I would spot it finally somewhere in the vocabulary books (like ‘lagartijas’ in all Cuban houses). A few, like the ‘iguerere’ (Luk. toad), could not be deciphered by me or my Yorùbá friends.
 

 Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn on the market in Yorùbáland, very likely imported from Cameroon, and sometimes sold as ‘tiger skin’ in Orisha groups on Social Media. Check our  free Yorùbá language course  to learn Yorùbá sentences like "I don't buy leopard fur, it is a protected animal!" ©Orisha Image

Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn on the market in Yorùbáland, very likely imported from Cameroon, and sometimes sold as ‘tiger skin’ in Orisha groups on Social Media. Check our free Yorùbá language course to learn Yorùbá sentences like "I don't buy leopard fur, it is a protected animal!" ©Orisha Image

I especially like the translation of the ‘eiyé gongó’, originally the Yorùbá word for ostrich, as a ‘bird with long legs’ in the Lukumí dictionary. I imagine an African-born grandmother telling her Creole grandchildren from her homeland and describing an ostrich. When the dictionary was compiled many decades later, the image of the ‘bird with long legs’ remained from this memory of the times of slavery. Or, less poetic, the ethnographer recording the vocabulary just did not know what an ostrich was and wrote down a part of its description: ‘pájaro con patas largas’. We don’t know. The interesting fact to me was that so many of them survived in the diaspora since the times of slavery in the world of the Orisha in Cuba! And again I learned a lot about Yorùbá language, too. I got to know the ‘agbe’ because the blue turaco is the peacock’s name in Cuba, and other Yorùbá birds and their feathers which are a blessing. The Lukumí name for hippopotamus is ‘omi ayanakú’ (a construction from the two words ‘water’ and ‘elephant’, but in a strange grammatical order, as ‘water of the elephant’) is almost the same like the Yorùbá ‘erinmi’, from ’erin omi’ – an ‘elephant of water’. I learned about the ‘àgùnfọn’, its description as ‘long and thin’, got to know the Yorùbá expression for the hen with ruffled feathers frequently offered to Ozain in Cuba… etc.  

Below is the list. Watch the video for the pronunciation! The words are pronounced by linguist Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún from Lagos, Nigeria. Just two animal names and the intro I recorded with another Yorùbá friend. Some of the Lukumí words that I could not decipher (like Luk. ‘iguerere’) I added in Yorùbá language (in its meaning as ‘toad’). Others, like the peacock, are known under a different name in Yorùbáland today and some species have more than one name, like the Guinea fowl or the leopard (which has more names than listed here). Friends made suggestions when we discussed the Lukumí list and added other species (‘You have the ant? What about termite?’). The original Lukumí-only list became extended, but as I wanted to learn this Yorùbá vocabulary anyhow, I think it is a good addition. This is not a complete list of animals and it is not scientific work, it is a compilation made by a Yorùbá language student. Some animals are missing from the Lukumí dictionaries, because I could not decipher them. I am sure more vocabulary is used on the island than recorded in these books that I used as a source. It is just a small demonstration that introduces you to 100 Yorùbá animal names, based on a Lukumi vocabulary list, bringing them together in unity. No politics, no propaganda, no right or wrong, just words, two sides of the Atlantic, one reality, Orisha here and there, a bit of history and linguistics and a Yorùbá vocabulary lesson.
 

 ‘Àgùnfọn’ was not only used for animals in Cuba (here the goose), but also to ridicule about the ‘disproportionate‘ body of a person. Literally it means ‘long and thin’. Below you see the Yor. ‘agbe’, the blue turaco bird, translated as peacock or parrot. A detail from a Lukumí dictionary bought in a Cuban Orisha shop aorund 2000. 

‘Àgùnfọn’ was not only used for animals in Cuba (here the goose), but also to ridicule about the ‘disproportionate‘ body of a person. Literally it means ‘long and thin’. Below you see the Yor. ‘agbe’, the blue turaco bird, translated as peacock or parrot. A detail from a Lukumí dictionary bought in a Cuban Orisha shop aorund 2000. 

Working with Yorùbá dictionaries is complicated, because on many animals they do not give an exact information (‘kind of a red bird’) or even make contradictory statements! ‘Àgùnfọn’ for example, in Cuba known as goose or turkey, is listed in Yorùbá dictionaries as peacock, egret and giraffe. Its name is a description, it means ‘(animal) with a long and thin (neck)’, so no wonder it was used for different species (and for persons in Cuba, see the image above from my old Cuban hand-copied Lukumí dictionary). Or what’s a quaiI, Yor. ‘àparò’? Do you use it as an expression for any small brownish domestic bird or is it the name of an exact species? Is the bird being referred to as a quail by Yorùbá-speakers another species than what is known and offered as Luk. ‘akuaro’ today in Cuba? Or is the original Yorùbá ‘àparò’, a wild animal (‘bushfowl’), similar to the domestic quail? Awoyale's dictionary lists the Senegambian Double-spurred Francolin besides the quail, the bushfowl and the partridge. So what is practically important, for non-zoologists? Difficult dictionary questions! Many Yorùbá translate ‘àgbọ̀nrín’ generally as deer and not as a species called bushbuck. It depends whom you ask – a hunter, farmer, scientist, butcher, cook, olorisha, babalawo, city dweller or villager – all might have different opinions. I asked around. Nowadays ‘ẹmọ́’ is known as Guinea pig to Yorùbá people, though it must have been a native name for a rodent. In Abraham’s dictionary it is listed as ‘Tullberg’s rat’, what is described as ‘Tullberg’s soft-furred mouse’ today. Guinea pigs are South-American (despite their name). I tried to sort many of these problems out, but questions remain. Have you ever asked your Yorùbá friends for all these types of so-called bushrats and edible rodents? No one knows an exact species’ name – just if they are tasty or not, or if they were better grilled than used for ‘soup’ or connected to rituals. I frequently heard statements like ’yes, I have eaten this one’ or ‘it’s very delicious’. Being tasty or not is definitely an important category for animals in Yorùbá language, where ‘meat’ and ‘animal’ is one word.
 

 Here the tòlótòló that accompanied me on my road trip through Yorùbáland, while I waited in the car for the new tires to arrive from the next village.   ©Orisha Image

Here the tòlótòló that accompanied me on my road trip through Yorùbáland, while I waited in the car for the new tires to arrive from the next village. ©Orisha Image

Many Yorùbá animal names are composed of two words, but I wanted to keep it short in the video. The Yor. ‘ẹyẹlé’ (pigeon) is literally the ‘ẹyẹ ilé’, the house bird. The Yor. ‘èkúté ilé’, the house rat, is pronounced as a phrase like ‘èkútéelé’ but usually written in most dictionaries as èkútélé. So I mentioned some versions in the list below, but not in the video. Doubled words often use hyphens, though I do not know exactly where this custom comes from, it is not part of the Yorùbá orthography. I changed all the ‘yànmù-yánmú’ and ‘tòló-tòló’ to ‘yànmùyánmú’ and ‘tòlótòló’. At the bottom of this page you can compare some of these confusing dictionary entries.

The peacock, another non-African but important animal in Orisha worship in Cuba (not related to Oshun in Yorùbáland) has various names, from ‘eiye ologe’ (fashion conscious bird) in the Yorùbá bible and the bird’s description in 19th century Yorùbá vocabulary books as ’oruko eiye kan bi agbe’, lit. ‘name of a bird like the blue turaco’ (what points to the name it still has in Cuba) up to ‘ọ̀kín’ today, originally a word for a white egret. Language stays the same, but context changes. Have you ever held a small mouse in your hands? No? While you are reading this, sitting in front of your computer, one of your hands might currently be petting a ‘mouse’... The chance to encounter a living leopard today in Yorùbáland is nearly as high as meeting a tiger there. The leopard translated as tiger demonstrates that leopards are not part of the daily life anymore. The ‘ọ̀kín’, in Crowther’s dictionary a bird famous for its white feathers, became the peacock. Also the ‘àlùkò’ bird had more than one possible translation, from a type of purple (sic) woodcock to the bee-eater or a certain turaco type with beautiful, impressive red wings. It is the species that various Brazilian and Cuban botánica websites are selling its feathers from, as I found out through a hint by Nathan Lugo. In this case, as it is a bird of blessing and used in rituals, I trust in the knowledge of the olorisha community more than in the Yorùbá dictionaries. Yorùbá zoologists, please get into contact with me! The others, listen to the video to hear the correct pronunciation! And have fun!
 

 The Yor. ìgbín, snail, is a very common food in Yorùbáland and offered to Orisha like Obatala. ©Orisha Image

The Yor. ìgbín, snail, is a very common food in Yorùbáland and offered to Orisha like Obatala. ©Orisha Image

Thank you to Nigerian writer and linguist  Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún from yorubaname.com for recording the soundfiles and making proposals for other species. Kọ́lá just started a new project: after creating yorubaname.com in 2015 he is currently crowdfunding the new Igbo Names Dictionary to strengthen the language diversity in Nigeria. There’s a good description on Indiegogo with many links to his past and ongoing projects. Who’s interested in Yorùbá language (or other languages spoken in Nigeria) should get into contact with Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún and support his initiatives!

Thank you also to olorisha and babalawo Nathan Lugo who runs olorisa.com for a revision of some of my Lukumí terms and helping me with their translations into Yorùbá. Nathan regularly teaches Orisha songs online in his Orisa Song Circle, very recommended to Yorùbá students to get to know the olorisha vocabulary. I have heard many Lukumí songs in their actual contemporary Yorùbá version there (and these versions are very different to all the ‘re-translations’ we know by people who used dictionaries as their source).

Thank you to Victor Manfredi (see his blog on people.bu.edu/manfredi/) for answering my questions on the history and development of Yorùbá language. Victor, who also speaks Igbo, can give fascinating insights from the linguist’s perspective on history. That’s the reason why I am so fascinated of language studies and the Lukumí observations. There’s a lot of history preserved in our daily vocabulary and grammar, it’s a bit like archeology, just that everything’s on the surface. Thank you to all my collaborators for their inspiring thoughts! 
 

 A chameleon, Yor. alágẹmo, sold on the local market in Nigeria. ©Orisha Image

A chameleon, Yor. alágẹmo, sold on the local market in Nigeria. ©Orisha Image

Here’s the complete alphabetical list: the order of the terms is Yorùbá-English-Spanish-Lukumí. If an animal name has another meaning in Lukumí than in Yorùbá, this is mentioned after the Lukumí term in English and Spanish again. A few species are mentioned by more than one name. Some only in Yorùbá without a Lukumí equivalent. Lukumí words often include more than one spelling variant, as there are no fixed rules. The Youtube video is included on top of this page, scroll up and see the video, or use the mp3 player here for audio only while reading on this webpage. I did not include the Lukumí terms in the video or soundfile – as they are all 100% Yorùbá (the only difference is the Spanish orthography) and not another language. I mention the Lukumí terms here in the list just as a background information.
 


àáyá red colobus monkey / mono colobus rojo ayá monkey / mono

abo female animal / animal hembra abó

àdàbà dove / paloma (no Lukumí)

àdán bat / murciélago adan

adìẹ hen / gallina adié, adiyé

adìẹ aṣa chicken breed with ruffled feathers / raza de pollo con plumas erizadas adie shashara

àfòòpiná moth, flying-ant / polilla, hormiga voladora (no Lukumí)

agbe great blue turaco / turaco gigante azul ague, aguí, agueyamí peafowl / pavo real 

àgbébọ̀ adìẹ full-grown hen / gallina adulta abeboadié

àgbò ram / carnero abó

àgbọ̀nrín bushbuck antelope / antílope jeroglífico abaní, agbaní deer / venado

àgùnfọn crowned crane, giraffe / grulla coronada, jirafa agufá, eufan turkey, goose / pavo, ganso

àgùntàn sheep / oveja agutaná, agutan, ogután, oguta

ahun tortoise / tortuga awón, wón, ajún, aún

ajá dog / perro ayá

àjànàkú elephant / elefante ayanakú

akàn crab / cangrejo akan

àkéekèe scorpion / alacrán akeké, okeké

àkèré frog / rana (no Lukumí)

akítì monkey / mono (no Lukumí)

àkókó woodpecker / pájaro carpintero akokó

akọ male animal / animal macho akó

àkùkọ adìẹ cock / gallo akukó

àkùkọ òpìpì scantly feathered type of fowl / gallo pescuezo pelado akuko akuikui

alábahun ìjàpá, alábahun àjàpá tortoise / tortuga (no Lukumí, see ahun and ìjàpá)

alágẹmo chameleon / camaleón alagüema, aguema

àláàkàṣà lobster / langosta alákasa

aláàmù lizard / lagarto alamó

aláǹgbá lizard / lagarto (no Lukumí)

aláǹtakùn spider / araña (no Lukumí, spider is called erá, see below)

àlùkò yellow-billed turaco / turaco piquigualdo aloko peafowl / pavo real

àmọ̀tẹ́kùn leopard / leopardo ayambeku tiger / tigre

àparò quail / codorniz akuaro

àṣá hawk / halcón (no Lukumí equivalent)

awó Guinea hen / gallina de Guinea (no Lukumí)

ayíyán, aáyán cockroach / cucaracha añaí

edé shrimp / camarón edé

egbin Kob antelope / antílope cobo (no Lukumí)

èkòló earthworm / lombríz ekolo

èkùlù duiker antelope / antílope duiker ekulú deer / venado  

eèrà ant / hormiga erá ant, spider / hormiga, araña

ehoro rabbit / conejo ejoro/ojoro

ejò snake / serpiente eyó/eyú

eku bushrat / rata salvaje ekú jutía / hutia (Caribbean rodent)

èkúté rat / rata ekuté

èkútéelé (èkúté ilé) house rat, mouse / rata de casa, ratón ekutelé

erè python / pitón eré majá / Cuban boa  

erin elephant / elefante erín

erinmi (erin omi), erinmi l’ókun hippopotamus / hipopótamo omi ayanakú hippopotamus hipopótamo

eṣinṣin fly / mosca esisí, echichí, echín echín insects / bichos, guasasa

esunsun winged termite / termita voladora (no Lukumí)

ewúrẹ́ goat / chiva euré

 At the backyard of Susanne Wenger's home in Òṣogbo, the typical ‘urban’ goat (Yor. ewúrẹ́) from Yorùbáland, outside of Nigeria known as the ‘Nigerian Dwarf Goat’. Its thin skin is one of the main ingredients for Àyàn talking drums. ©Orisha Image

At the backyard of Susanne Wenger's home in Òṣogbo, the typical ‘urban’ goat (Yor. ewúrẹ́) from Yorùbáland, outside of Nigeria known as the ‘Nigerian Dwarf Goat’. Its thin skin is one of the main ingredients for Àyàn talking drums. ©Orisha Image

ẹdun white-thighed red colobus monkey / mono colobus rojo con muslos blancos edú, edún monkey / mono

ẹfọ̀n buffalo / búfalo efón

ẹ̀fọn mosquito (no Lukumí)

ẹja fish / pez eyá

ẹja àrọ̀ catfish / pez gato eyá oro guabina (Cuban fish species) / guabina (pez Cubano) Note: The Cuban ‘eyá oro’ could also come from Yor. ‘orò’, what means ritual, traditional custom.

ẹkùn leopard / leopardo ekún tiger / tigre

ẹlẹ́dẹ̀ pig / cochino eledé

ẹmọ́ Tullberg’s praomys (rodent), Guinea pig / praomys tullbergi (roedor), conejillo de Indias (no Lukumí)

ẹran meat, domestic animal / carne, animal domestico erán meat / carne

ẹranlá (ẹran ńlá) bull / toro eranla cow / vaca

ẹṣin horse / caballo esí, echí, echín

ẹtù Guinea hen / gallina de Guinea etún, etú

ẹtu Maxwell’s duiker antelope / antílope duiker de Maxwell (no Lukumí)

ẹyẹ bird / pájaro eiye, eyé, ellé

ẹyẹ idì eagle / águila eiyé dí, elledí kite / milano

ẹyẹlé (ẹyẹ ilé) pigeon / paloma ellelé, eyelé

ẹyẹ ọba common gonolek / bubú coronigualdo (laniarius barbarus) eiyé obá peafowl / pavo real Note: maybe a direct Cuban Spanish-Yorùbá translation from ‘(pavo) real’ (royal) to ‘ọba’ (king) and not related to the African bird species at all

ẹyin egg / huevo eñí, eyi, eñin

gúnugún vulture / buitre gunukú, gunugú

ìgbín snail / caracol igbin, ebin

ìjàpá, àjàpá tortoise / tortuga ayakua, ayapa 

ikán termite / termite (no Lukumí)

ìkookò hyena / hiena ikoko wolf / lobo
 

 On this website you find a link to the  Orisha Image T-Shirt shop  sold via a print-on-demand platform. I get a percentage from the sales - around 7 dollars per shirt - what helps to run this blog and the costs of its maintenance (domain costs, e-mail server, blog-platform etc.).  

On this website you find a link to the Orisha Image T-Shirt shop sold via a print-on-demand platform. I get a percentage from the sales - around 7 dollars per shirt - what helps to run this blog and the costs of its maintenance (domain costs, e-mail server, blog-platform etc.).  

ìkóódẹ (ìkó oódẹ) African grey parrot’s tail feather / pluma timonera de la cola del loro gris Africano ikodé, ikordié

ìnàkí chimpanzee / chimpancé (no Lukumí)

ìrẹ̀ cricket / grillo iré

kẹ́tẹ́kẹ́tẹ́ donkey / burro ketekete mule / mula

kìnìún lion / leon kini

kòkòrò worms, insects / bichos kokoró

kọ̀lọ̀kọ̀lọ̀ fennec fox / fénec zorro del desierto koló koló

kọ̀ǹkọ̀ edible frog / rana comestible (no Lukumí)

labalábá butterfly / mariposa alabalá

lámilámi dragonfly / libélula (no Lukumí)

lékèélékèé cattle egret / garcilla bueyera leke leke flamingo, egret / flamenco, garza

mààlúù cow, cattle, ox / vaca, res, buey malú

òbúkọ, òrúkọ billy goat / chivo ouko, ounko, auko, aunko

oódẹ, odídẹ, odídẹrẹ́ African grey parrot / loro gris odidé parrot / loro

ògòǹgò ostrich / avestruz eiyé gongó bird with long legs / pajaro con patas largas

òkété giant pouched rat / rata de abazones gigantes oketé hutia (Caribbean rodent) / jutía

ológbò cat / gato ologuó

ológìní cat / gato ológüine

òròmọdìẹ (òrò ọmọ adìẹ) young chicks / pollito (no Lukumí)

oyin bee / abeja oñí

ọ̀bọ monkey / mono oobo

ọ̀dá castrated animal / animal capado odan/edan

ọ̀gà chameleon / camaleón (no Lukumí)

ọ̀kẹ́rẹ́ squirrel / ardilla okeré hutia (Caribbean rodent) / jutía

ọmọ́lé, ọmọnílé gecko / lagartija (no Lukumí)

ọ̀pọ̀lọ́ toad / sapo okuoló, boló, akualá

ọ̀kín egret, peafowl / garcilla, pavo real (agbe or ẹyẹ ọba or àlùkò in Lukumí)

ọ̀ọ̀kùn, ọ̀kùnrùn centipede, millipede / ciempiés, milpiés (no Lukumí)

ọ̀nì crocodile / cocodrilo oni

ọ̀yà greater cane rat, grasscutter / rata de las cañas, aulácodo (no Lukumí)

pẹ́pẹ́yẹ duck, goose / pato, ganso kuekueye/ekuekueye

sèbé snake / serpiente chegué

tòlótòló turkey / pavo tolotolo, kuólo kuólo

tannátanná firefly / luciérnaga (no Lukumí)

yànmùyánmú mosquito / mosquito ñamuñamu

END OF LIST
 

oshun peacock, ochun agbe, agbeyami, agueyami, agbe, yoruba, santeria, cuba, nigeria, orisha, orisha image

Here examples from Yorùbá dictionaries. I compared various animal entries in eight dictionaries (see my dictionary review for more information about these books). The contemporary meaning of some words in Yorùbáland differs from the ‘original’ or historical meaning. Some terms like ‘àgùnfọn’, which literally means ‘the long and thin’ animal, is used for the giraffe, but was applied to the crane decades ago, and in Cuba became a goose or turkey. It is a term that makes sense for all these animals mentioned. The Yor. ‘ọ̀kín’, identified by Yorùbá speakers as peacock today, was once an egret, mentioned by Samuel Crowther as ‘a bird, the white feathers of which are very valued’, etc.

àgùnfọn: crowned crane (historic) or giraffe (contemporary)?

Jefferson Bowen (1858): The crested crane
Crowther (1852): a kind of long-necked crested bird. It is a common superstition that its bones can not and must not be broken.
CMS (1913): a long-necked, crested bird. There is a superstition that its bones can not be broken.
Abrahams (1958): West African crowned crane (gùn + fọn) = crownbird (balearica pavonina P.) The crown bird walks slowly but majestically, but when alarmed often breaks into a run before flying away. It eats grain… (etc.)
Fakinlede (2003): (tallest animal) giraffe
Awoyale (2017): giraffe
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo (1996): peacock
Lukumí dictionaries: goose, turkey

ẹmọ́: Tullberg’s soft furred mouse (historic) or guinea pig (contemporary, not endemic)?

Jefferson Bowen: no entry
Crowther: kind of brown rat
CMS: brown rat
Abrahams: Tullberg’s rat (Praomys Tullbergi): see illustration; - Òìbó guineapig
Fakinlede: kind of rat
Awoyale: bush rat, Tullberg’s rat (ẹmọ́le or ẹmọ́ òyìnbó or ẹmọ́ ọ̀sin: guinea pig)
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo: brown rat (Tullberg’s rat)
Lukumí dictionaries: no entry

ẹkùn: leopard (historic) or tiger (contemporary, not endemic)?

Jefferson Bowen: leopard
Crowther: leopard
CMS: leopard
Abrahams: leopard (=ògìdán v. àmọ̀tẹ́kùn)
Fakinlede: leopard
Awoyale: tiger. leopard (only leopards are found in Yorubaland) cf. ògìdán, àmọ̀tẹ́kùn
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo: leopard
Lukumí dictionaries: tiger

àmọ̀tẹ́kùn: leopard (no doubts, just to have a comparison with ẹkùn)

Jefferson Bowen: an animal like a leopard
Crowther: an animal of the leopard kind, panther, Jákumọ (to-ẹkun)
CMS: species of leopard, panther
Abrahams: =àmọ̀ type of leopard
Fakinlede: panther
Awoyale: leopard, panther, jaguar, cheetah
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo: no entry
Lukumi dictionaries: tiger

ọ̀kín: egret (historic) or peafowl (contemporary, not endemic)?

Jefferson Bowen: no entry
Crowther: a bird, the white feathers of which are much valued, e.g. ọ̀kín baba ẹiyẹ, ọ̀kín ẹlẹwa àlà – Okin is the king of birds, the owner oft he beautiful white feathers. Interesting: He lists English peacock as „oruko eiye kan bi agbe“ (name of a bird like the blue turaco)
CMS: see above, same as Crowther. Interesting: CMS lists English peacock as ẹiyẹ ologe (as translated in the bible)
Abrahams: egret (bird)
Fakinlede: no entry (his English entry for peacock is ẹyẹ ológe)
Awoyale: peacock bird (plus many proverbs that it is a rare and beautiful bird)
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo: no entry
Lukumí dictionaries: no entry

àgbáǹréré: antelope (historic) or giraffe (contemporary)?

Jefferson Bowen: the unicorn: agbanrère olowo kán, the agbanrère is one-horned
Crowther: the rhinoceros; an animal with one horn, supposed by the natives to be the unicorn, agbanrére olowo kan, the one-horned agbanrere
CMS: rhinoceros, unicorn
Abrahams: roan antelope
Fakinlede: type of antelope
Awoyale: antelope type
Chief Fama’s Ede Awo: no entry
Lukumí dictionaries: no entry

 

I hope this was interesting! Let's keep in touch! I am always happy to hear from other people studying Yorùbá language or to share stories about Orisha worldwide! Thank you!