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Author Topic: Paws or Hands?  (Read 4203 times)
AurumLutra
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« on: June 15, 2011, 11:08:04 PM »

I know there's a pretty big difference between paws and hands, at least as the words pertain to real life. Humans have hands and most animals have paws, no surprise there. But I struggle with deciding what to call that body part when it comes to anthropomorphic fiction. If you have an anthropomorphic animal, do you call them hands or paws?

I'm inclined to call them hands because that implies, to me, that the anthro has eight fingers and two thumbs like a human would, which makes sense if they're anthro in the first place. But also knowing that they are still very animal-like, at least in their appearance, I'm also inclined to call them paws.

Of course, this immediately brings up another question. What do the hands/paws of anthro animals look like anyway? Do they have pads like an animal or not? If no pads, are they made of skin like ours? Are they covered in fur like any other part of the body?

Anyway, this is something that honestly bothers me when it comes to anthro fiction. So, I ask you: Paws or Hands?
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 11:47:35 PM »

For canids and felids who normally have paws, I have no problem calling their upper appendages paws. This feels proper to me, and if you want to see what they would look like, try the art work of Blotch. Excellent depiction of the canine or feline paw, with only slight alteration. The dew claw lowers and lengthens to become a somewhat stubby but functional thumb. The other digits are lengthened a bit, but not so long as primate fingers. The claws are still claws, retractable in the case of the feline. Proportion looks good enough that you feel the individual could run on all four just as easily as they stand on the hinders and manipulate objects with their hands.

Much the same can be done with bears, and raccoons are even easier, since they already have "almost" hands.

Ungulates pose a different problem, and for them I usually use the word hand because hoof simply doesn't produce the appropriate mental image. Again, consult the furry artists. Chris Sawyer's equines are well known and have human-like hands with just three fingers, but many other artists who draw horses, zebras, deer, and goats have chosen to depict a different number of digits, anywhere from five to two, with heavy nails that resemble small hooves. (That's what archeologists tell us the Eohippus had: multiple toes each with a tiny hoof.)
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2011, 01:52:51 AM »

I use the term interchangeably, though most folks consider a hand something resembling digits with an opposable thumb.
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2011, 08:20:58 AM »

It could be a sytlistic choice dependent on subject matter. I find the use of the word "paw" accentuates the furriness of the character, and for me it sounds cuter than "hand". If I were writing a longer and more serious work with anthro characters in it, personally I might consider using "hand" instead.

The only problem I have with "paw" is that it's ambiguous between hand and foot. If hands = paws, do feet = feetpaws?
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2011, 08:31:51 AM »

For the sake of completeness, I'll reiterate here my discovery - which no one else seems to have made - that juvenile anthropomorphs from the Deep South call their parents not "mom" and "dad", but "maw" and "paw". Furry anthropology FTW! Grin
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2011, 10:50:59 AM »

Yes, Jacky, some of us use footpaw and footpaws at times. You can also use the more ordinary terms: foot, feet, hindpaw, etc. I haven't seen "feetpaws" used though you might if you had a character who was just learning to talk or learning the language being used.

Inventing words that have clear meaning and are appropriate to our special context is one of the great pleasures of writing in my opinion.  Cheesy
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AurumLutra
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2011, 06:20:51 PM »

I tend to just use feet when referring to anthro characters, regardless of species, but that's a good point. I've generally referred to them as hands when narrating, but that wouldn't stop a character from shouting something along the lines of 'Getcher paws OFF me!' out of anger/frustration. X3
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2011, 08:11:20 PM »

I use paws, fingers and feet. A few authors I've read tend to say "claws" instead of fingers, but that seems a bit odd to me. Footpaws -- something that Brian Jacques used -- just doesn't feel quite right, so I use feet instead. It's one of those things that's solely up to the author. If I might derail this topic for a second, however, what about common phrases like "hand it over" or "he handed the map to John?" Personally, I keep them because saying "he pawed the map to John" destroys any serious atmosphere that I've worked to establish. Come to think of it, that's why I use feet instead of footpaws -- footpaws is a major flow-killer.
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AurumLutra
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2011, 08:48:01 PM »

That is probably my BIGGEST pet peeve in the furry fandom. Phrases like 'On the other paw' and stuff like that just strikes me as being TOO furry, you know what I mean? XP
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2011, 11:02:42 PM »

Yes and why I try to use them sparingly. It is like the author is trying too hard.
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 11:46:08 PM »

That is probably my BIGGEST pet peeve in the furry fandom. Phrases like 'On the other paw' and stuff like that just strikes me as being TOO furry, you know what I mean? XP
<.< >.> ... I kinda use "on the other paw" a bit. That's just remnants from my days as a Redwaller.
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2011, 12:25:14 AM »

I use "on the other paw" and "on the other hoof" in conversation but not usually in writing.

"Footpaw" seems fine to me and no disruption at all unless the character is of a species that wouldn't have paws.  Grin
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2011, 01:42:27 AM »

I use paws, fingers and feet. A few authors I've read tend to say "claws" instead of fingers, but that seems a bit odd to me. Footpaws -- something that Brian Jacques used -- just doesn't feel quite right, so I use feet instead.

Brian Jacques used -- just doesn't feel quite right.

You say this, then you still keep that damn mighty backflip.  I dislike you greatly good sir.
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Jacky
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2011, 08:48:17 AM »

That is probably my BIGGEST pet peeve in the furry fandom. Phrases like 'On the other paw' and stuff like that just strikes me as being TOO furry, you know what I mean? XP

I try to avoid going overboard with furry idioms in my writing, but it definitely has a place for when using the normal phrase would be etymologically inconsistent to your world. e.g.

"One more day and I'll be out of your hair," considering that my furries only have fur, needs to be: "One more day and I'll be out of your fur." Same thing with "on the other paw" I guess, if you're going with using paw instead of hand.

I agree though that verbs like "to hand" need to stay that way.
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AurumLutra
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2011, 05:15:46 PM »

I agree with you there, Jacky. If it makes sense, go for it. But I'm talking when regular furs use those phrases in normal conversation. XP
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