hibernation and estivation

It is now heading towards winter in Sweden again so soon many animals will be feeding more than normal to prepare themselves for migration, hibernation or just getting through the winter.

If an animal goes to sleep during cold periods it is called hibernation. If an animal goes to sleep during hot periods it is called estivation. Because climate and geography influences language there is often not a word for both of them in everyday language. So for example Swedish has a word for hibernation (ide) but not estivation. My husband fell foul of this when I first met him – he started talking about the snowball effect to an African audience who had never seen snow. Not only that but he had chosen the word snow as an example of a wildcard search – some people were mildly interested in snow itself but could not see the point of learning about wet snow, dry snow, powder snow, snow tyres, snow skis etc etc.

On a (slightly) related note nocturnal means active at night and diurnal means active during the day. Crepuscular means active at dusk and dawn. Anyone who has cats who get the ‘cat crazies’ at dusk and dawn will know this phenomenon!

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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