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Porcupine or hedgehog?

A new contributor changed Kippi's species from porcupine to hedgehog. Is there a source for either species? -- Danny (talk) 17:32, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

In Shalom Sesame, Kippi refers to himself as "your friendly neighborhood porcupine." So there's a source. Anything else is argument based on design, ala Abelardo (crocodile) being dubbed a dragon. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 18:11, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
I was the one making the change, for an obvious reason - Kippod in Hebrew means hedgehog. The quote above must be a translation error on behalf of the makers. So, in Hebrew Kippi is a hedgehog, and presents himself as one. Anything else is based on ignorance... User:Patchwork 1 July 2007
The translation issue is interesting and worth noting, but Shalom Sesame was a co-production, with Tzuriel saying her own dialogue, so it's not just a mistake or "ignorance." Kippi says he's a porcupine in English, so that should stay, but a section on the literal translation is well worth adding, or if Kippi does call himself a hedgehog in Hebrew beyond the surname (I have no frame of reference to check that claim right now). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 18:33, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
It does show that Sarai Tzuriel and the show makers do not know the difference between porcupine and hedgehog. It's hardly surprising, as most Israelis would probably get it wrong. On the other hand, I assume that the American part of the production do not know what Kippod and Dorban (porcupine) are. So a mistake was made. Whether to carry it here is up for discussion.
The fact that Kippi is a hedgehog is stated on the Hebrw wikipedia page: -- User:Patchwork 1 July 2007
I'm glad you brought this up; it's an interesting question. On this wiki, we try to use information that comes from the most direct source -- and something that's mentioned on-screen in a show is usually the best source there is. If Kippi says he's a porcupine, then I think we have to believe him -- unless we can find another reputable source that says otherwise.
The Hebrew Wikipedia page isn't a good source for us here, because obviously we know how easy it is to change information on a wiki. :) That doesn't beat the information that we have now, which is straight from the horse's -- I mean, the hedgehog's -- I mean, the porcupine's mouth. -- Danny (talk) 19:12, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Again, straight from the original horse's mouth - he's a hedgehog. Why prefer the English version, which is a translation error, to the original? It is far from clear to me.
I'm looking to see if there is an online clip I can link to. User:Patchwork 1 July 2007
It can't be a "translation error." Shalom Sesame was not a dub or translation, but a new co-production for the US market, and Kippi calls himself a porcupine at the beginning of every episode. So there's absolutely no doubt about that. What does need to be confirmed is if he ever referred to himself as a hedgehog in Hebrew, which would thus imply that they changed his species for the US (as an abstract Muppet, he could easily be either), and in which case both hedgehog *and* porcupine are sourced designations. A clip would definitely help there. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 21:20, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Let's put it this way: imagine that, instead of Big Bird, you had in the states Zebbi Zebrason, who has black and white stripes. In an American-German co-production he called himself Pferd. Now, show of hands: who thinks he's a horse? Who would consider a doubt that he was ever a Zebra in the original made by non-English speaking Germans as less than ridiculous? -- user:Patchwork 21:13, July 1, 2007

I'm not sure that the translation is necessarily that "black and white". I don't know Hebrew myself, so I'm just relying on sources I can find through Google. Here goes:

  • This article says: "This light-absorbing matrix -- nicknamed "kippod," the Hebrew word for porcupine -- is designed in a sophisticated manner to absorb maximum sunlight..."
  • This page says: "The Hebrew word (kippod) thus rendered in the Authorized Version is rendered “porcupine” in the Revised Version."

I find more hits for "kippod porcupine" than I do for "kippod hedgehog", and all of the references on the internet for Kippi Ben Kippod say that he's a porcupine. I think that, plus the on-screen reference to porcupine, is good enough for me. Again, Patchwork, if you can find a reliable source for Kippi being a hedgehog, then that would be helpful. -- Danny (talk) 02:42, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Easy. Any Hebrew-English dictionary.
If you ask a Hebrew speaker for a small, spiny animal, 9 out 10 will say kippod. I suspect that in English most would say porcupine. The prototype is different in the two languages, which leads to confusion among people who don't know animals (such as physicists and biblical scholars...) Even I checked a dictionary to make sure before making the correction here.
To help non-Hebrew speakers check, the latin name for the common kippod is Erinaceus europaeus concolor. For the only species of dorban in Israel it's Hystrix indica indica. Source: The Encyclopedia for Plants and Animals of the Land of Israel, vol.7 (1987). You can look up the latin names for yourself. -- Patchwork 06:28, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
To help you some more, here are links for the ynet online encyclopedia entries:,7340,L-221560-PreYaan,00.html,7340,L-11557-PreYaan,00.html
And the Hebrew words:
Kippod - ?????
Dorban - ????
Try looking these up with an image search.
The fact that there are more online entries that get it wrong only illustrate how easy it was for the makers of Shalom Sesame to get it wrong themselves. -- Patchwork 06:12, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I managed to get ahold of an Israelie friend who was online. He does translation work, and confirmed that Kippod means hedgehog. However, Patchwork (is there something else we can call you?), that still doesn't make the Rechov Sumsum claim "wrong" in that sense. Your example isn't that far off. The Chinese Sesame Street has Da Niao, who looks like Big Bird, has Big Bird's personality, and whose name translates to "Big Bird." But the premise, as presented by Sesame Workshop, is that it is *not* Big Bird, but his identical cousin. Elmo is renamed Neno in South Africa. So we have absolute proof that for the US-targeted series, Kippi *is* a porcupine (which is porbably less an error than a deliberate change, since porcupines are more familiar in the US and hedgehogs are in fact a non-native species in North America, and until recent decades, basically non-existent in children's pop culture). It may seem an odd change, but that doesn't simply mean they "got it wrong." What needs to be checked, what we need proof of, is if Kippi ever explicitly called himself a hedgehog in the original Hebrew series, outside of just stating his name. Then we can change the article to discuss the species issue in depth and note the regional differences, without getting into value judgements about who "got it wrong." -- Andrew Leal (talk) 10:39, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the chage may have been deliberate. I actually thought of that today, and thought of raising the topic here.
The Da Niao correlary, however, is not good, as they don't claim it's a different species.
I'll try to sum up:
1. Kippi was created as a hedgehog (Excuse me, but to doubt that someone whose name translates as Hedgy son of Hedgehog was not created as a hedgehog is really dumb, even if we can't find a direct quote. Do you need proof that Big Bird is not a platypus?).
2. One of the versions of the show, an Israeli-US co-production, has him as a porcupine. This may be due to a common error (I asked a few people today. Anyone who does not have a special interest in natural sciences thinks that kippod is the same as porcupine. Almost every Israeli is familiar with the English word 'porcupine' but it is not true for 'hedgehog'). This may also result from a deliberate change to suit the North American audience.
We still probably have differences regarding the best way to represent it. Let's return to my hypothetical Zebbi Zebrason, who is a horse in the German version. And let's add that, for German audiences, this is a reasonable alteration, because Zebras are hated (or whatever). I think it's clear that Zebbi is first and foremost a Zebra, and a horse in one alternate continuity. This should hold in Kippi's case. You might consider your Big Bird example as well. If the Chinese version were a platypus (only beaked non-bird I can think of...), would you go and change the first sentence in the Big Bird entry here to 'Big Bird is a platypus'?
PS My name is Ro'i. -- Patchwork 12:43, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

I looked at an online Hebrew-English dictionary,

Here's the two results. "Kippod" is the first definition for hedgehog, but it's also the second definition for porcupine.

Plus, as you said, anyone who doesn't have a special interest in natural sciences thinks that kippod is the same as porcupine.

So the translation of that word from Hebrew to English is slippery -- "porcupine" is correct, even if "hedgehog" is technically more correct. In a situation like that, I think we have to go with the translation that the show producers themselves used.

Ro'i, I think you've made your arguments very well, and we've all heard them. However, I for one am satisfied with the page as it is. I would suggest that we close this discussion and move on to something else. -- Danny (talk) 12:51, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but finding more people who got it wrong doesn't make it right. We're talking about zoological species, so you should look at the latin name. Or find sources that attribute 'porcupine' to the animal we know is kippod.
It all breaks down to what these wiki pages are about - perpetuating common ignorance, or being as authoritative, erudite source. Unless you claim that English speakers sometime mean the genus Erinaceus when they say porcupine (which may be right, but no one tried to claim it so far), the current page is erroneous. If nobody cares, so be it. As you said yourself in this discussion, wikipedia is not a good source anyway. -- Patchwork 15:11, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I've just checked the dictionary you've linked to (which seems to be based on babylon). The Hebrw thesaurus result for kippod gives dorban (porcupine) at the end, which strengthens my proposition: if you accept this (obviously false) notion that porcupine and hedgehog are the same species (although they are not even of the same family), it's ok. If you care for real knowledge, it's not.
BTW, morphix ( is probably the best option for online English-Hebrw dictionary, in case you need one in the future. -- Patchwork 15:24, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
That dictionary link is helpful. I added a section to the page about the translation issues. -- Danny (talk) 16:04, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I think the new species description on the page helps a lot. For whatever it's worth, Kippi looks more like a hedgehog than a porcupine to me. —Scott (talk) 16:06, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I also just removed the statement of his species in the first sentence -- given the discussion that we've had, I think saying either "Kippi is a hedgehog" or "Kippi is a porcupine" would be confusing. So I changed it to "Kippi lives on Rechov Sumsum", and then we've got the species section below. -- Danny (talk) 16:09, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
You know, I just looked at the page for Espinete, and he's a hedgehog that looks just like Kippi. I think I'm swinging towards hedgehog now. What do other folks think? -- Danny (talk) 16:33, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

I've made a technical correction re. Kippi's last name. -- Patchwork 17:07, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

...Which seems to have disappeared. I give up. -- Patchwork 17:38, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I thought adding the "Ben Kippod" made the sentence clunky. I just rewrote the passage a bit. -- Danny (talk) 18:09, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
I would like to point out that in Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, Bill Cosby referred to both Kippi and Espinete as porcipines. --Minor muppetz 17:45, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

It's probably worth noting that, although the original Kippi is a hedgehog, the change of species may have been deliberate. The makers of Shalom Sesame may have chosen porcupine as more fitting for the American audience at the expense of zoological accuracy. -- Patchwork 21:35, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't see any evidence to suggest that something was done specifically for American audiences. From the discussion here, it's more suggestive that there hasn't really been a consensus on how to translate the terms used to describe the character in both languages.
I feel like this topic has been covered sufficiently here on the talk page, and the adjustments made to the article appear to cover the angles of this topic based on all available source information. —Scott (talk) 21:43, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Sorry to drag this even further, but now I'm asking for the benefit of my knowledge of English - are you, or anyone here suggesting that the word 'porcupine' in English can sometimes mean hedgehog, i.e., the genus Erinaceus?
Let me assure you that in Hebrew, kippod could never mean Hystrix. You can ask any native Hebrew speaker (who knows the difference). The translation of kippod to porcupine happens usually for lack of English knowledge. People whom you ask what kippod translates to often reply 'porcupine', but would admit to the error if told that porcupine means dorban (Hysterix). So was I wrong to assume that porcupine is an English word which describes one species, and it's in fact a general word which encompasses both Erinaceus and Hysterix? Thanks. -- Patchwork 04:37, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Nope, you were right -- hedgehog and porcupine are two different animals, and two different words. -- Danny (talk) 13:27, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

To download a clip through eMule or such, in which Kippi repeatedly refers to himself as a hedgehog, use the next link (it's an eD2K link): -- Patchwork 18:55, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


Kippi's performer speaks English, so she doesn't have a dubbed voice for English performances. -- MuppetDude 14:58, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I was fairly sure of it. In Shalom Sesame anyway, the performer seems to be Kathryn Mullen (and articles I could find on the series only stressed Tzuriel being in the suit). Are you conversant enough with the two series to be sure? (And for that matter, Sesame Street Stays Up Late!)--Andrew, Aleal 15:00, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, 100%. I've got the tapes of some of the episodes, and the voices are very in sync (otherwise the voices, if they were dubbed, would have a much clearer sound to them). Some of the foreign segments from the Shalom Sesame series have dubbed voices, but are provided by the Jewish performers because they dubbed part of it in English (since half of the Shalom series is in either one language or the other).
The same can be said for the German performers of Tiffy, Finchen, and Samson in the New Year's Eve special (however, the other foreign characters on the show, were dubbed; Tita the Cat was dubbed by Ivy Austin, and Jim Martin and Kevin Clash dubbed the Norway segment, but I don't know who played Alfa). The performance and the voices were very precise, but one can easily note how in the Norway segments the lip sync is off, and how Bjarne sounds like a young Kingston (but Moishe's mouth sync is based on the performer's puppeteering skill; his mouth sometimes rapidly moves, but the voice is always in sync with the character in the newer inserts shot specially for the new Shalom Sesame segments).
And Brian Muehl stopped performing before he did a few things in the 1990s (while the Shalom Sesame series originated in the 1986, so he was busy on other projects). -- MuppetDude 17:31, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Thing is, there were two distinct eras of Shalom Sesame, the 1986-1987 episodes, which I haven't seen, and a new batch from 1990 and 1991. Both credit Mullen and Muehl in every episode I've seen, despite their having no apparent character roles in the dubbed inserts (yeah, they could have been doing assisting, but a few episodes used inserts almost entirely from the 70s and periods when they wouldn't have been doing *anything* on Sesame Street). Muehl was sort of a guess on my part, but Kippi sounds remarkably like Cotterpin Doozer in these episodes. Which ones do you have? It could just be a natural vocal similiarity, but I'm not entirely sure yet. --Andrew, Aleal 20:51, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
I've got "Tel Aviv" (from 1986), "Journey to Secret Places", "Aleph-Bet Telethon", "Chanukah", and "Passover" (all from the 1990s); I've seen their names in the credits as well, but they're all credited under the specific SS insert segments, and not for the specific Shalom Sesame segments. (And there may be at least one that don't list either of them in the credits.)
Maybe we need another opinion to find out the answer. -- MuppetDude 21:01, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, we probably do. Do you have any tapes of the original Rechov Sumsum? That would be one way to check. Regardless, for now, while I kept the reference in the article, I removed Kathy from the performer box, since even if it's correct, it's misleading upon reflection. We don't include the Spanish dubbed voices for Bert and Ernie in their pages, so it seems unfair. Actually, I'm really curious about the male performer who took over for Shara'a Simsim (which I may do a page move on, as it's both a bit misleading given most articles refer to it as Rechov Sumsum/Shara'a Simsim, and the "Israeli/Palestinian" bit doesn't match the format of the rest). --Andrew, Aleal 22:09, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Hold on kids! This has gone far enough. I was there (not bragging). Yes, I agree that Kippi could sound a bit like Kathy Mullen but it was the woman from Israel that did that annoying giggly nervous voice. They did not overdub with American performers. They used their own people. Moishe too. Kathy & Brian must have been credited for any US participation in the program.,,,and futhermore, Kippi is not being used anymore - she's G-O-N-E.....Vard 3/1/06
That's more than good enough for me. And yeah, I knew Kippi had been dropped (though came across several fascinating articles about how, prior to the current "Sesame Stories" format with Jordan in the mix, there was some conflict because Kareem the rooster was smaller than Kippi). --Andrew, Aleal 01:42, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Kippi's gone? Aw, and I liked her...
But at least we've got the answer now. Thanks, Vard! -- MuppetDude 16:05, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, after 70 episodes, the Palestinian/Israeli co-production ended, and while the Palestinians kept Kareem and Dafi, Israel dropped Kippi and Moishe Oofnik entirely, replacing them with Noah and Brosh (apparently partially because the entire "street" conceit has also been droopped). It's a long and complex but fascinating story, tracing Rechov SUmsum through Shalom Sesame and then the co-production and its hopes as well as controversy and adverse reactions, not yet fully or accurately explained on these pages, though I'm doing my best to gradually add it all in. And according to the same articles, Kippi was meant to be male all the time! For Rechov Sumsum/Shar'a Simsim, in addition to receiving a redesign with more traditional Muppet eyes instead of the dot eyes, Kippi was given a new performer, an unnamed male puppeteer, to end confusion amongst children as to Kippi's intended gender. That seems to happen a lot with the International muppets, actually. --Andrew, Aleal 17:51, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

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