Matthew Brown wrote:They certainly do seem to have a thing about bears, these Finns.
Paul Clapham wrote:The usual Finnish word for bear is "karhu", though. (I know this because my first pair of cross-country skis were Karhu brand from Finland and they had a picture of a bear on them. Also that's what Google Translate says.)
...it is theorised that the bear was such a holy animal that it was forbidden to depict it. Also, the bear's name was almost forbidden to say, so many euphemisms were developed. The most usual Finnish word for bear in modern language, karhu, is just one of the many euphemisms, and it means "rough fur." Among the many names of bear otso is probably the original "real" name, as suggested by the wide spread of the word otso and related words amongst many of the Uralic languages. Many euphemisms for bear are local.