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Re: The Papers That Ate Cincinnati

On 5/4/07, Nick Pharris <npharris@umich.edu> wrote:

*Oiseau* and *uccello* actually are, though not transparently so. They're derived from a diminutive form, something like *avicillum*. Vulgar Latin loved diminutives; that's where we get words like French *soleil* 'sun', from *soliculum* 'little sun' (cf. Latin *sol* 'sun') and Spanish *oveja* 'sheep', from *ovicula* 'little sheep' (cf. Latin *ovis* 'sheep').

Oh, interesting. I actually wondered if such might be the case but was too lazy to research. :)

The Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish words above are actually derived
from *passer(um)* 'sparrow'.  Spanish does have the word *ave* (plural
*aves*), but it's used, IIRC, for your bigger, less songbirdy types of

I wonder if the pÃjaro/ave distinction is similar to the bird/fowl distinction in English. To me at least, "bird" and "fowl" mean the same thing, but they have different archetypes: an archetypal "bird" would be a songbird, while an archetypal "fowl" would be more like a chicken or grouse. Also "fowl" sounds more old-fashioned (and, indeed, was more common in older forms of English and pre-English Germanic, I think, as "fowle" or "fugela").

At any rate, I've seen this comment come up before, that we can't
redefine "Aves" to the crown group because Romance speakers would
never see the word that way, but I've yet to hear from a native
speaker on the matter. Are there any out who would balk at excluding
_Ichthyornis_ from "Aves" because it would clash with your everyday
usage of "aves"? Or is the alternative term ("pÃjaro", "oiseau", etc.)
common enough that you could continue to use that in a more inclusive
manner and not care about "Aves" being restricted?

Mike Keesey