Bird Names

featherbrain

New Member
Hi!

I (along with a friend) am in the process of translating the scientific bird names into english, and I need some help.
I will first give the english name, then in italics the scientific name, and then I will give our feeble atempt of translation.
Here is what I am having trouble coming up with translations:

Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia - We couldn't come up with any logical translation, Uria has to do diving though.

Razorbill - Alca torda - We came up with Sea Mouth, but I don't think that's right.

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle - We came up with Scrap Seabird...???

Xantus's Murrlet - Synthliboramphus hypoleucus - We came up with Northern Suit-Wearing bill low-white...???


Thanks in advance!!

featherbrain
 

Andy

Civis Illustris
The thing is, some of these words are rather NeoLatin coinings of names rather than actual latin descriptions.

Ex. the mites calles Varroa Jacobsoni get their name from Marcus Terentius Varro, a Roman scholar who studied beekeeping and man I can probably deduce his name as Jacobson, rather than there being actual words in Latin as varroa and iacobsoni.
 

Iynx

Consularis
1. Surely you're not arguing, Andy amice, that modern Latin is not Latin?

2. Uria lovmia. That is aukward. Perhaps the generic name does have to do with diving. Terres (Audubon Society Encyclopedia of American Birds, Knopf, 1980) says that there's a Greek verb "ourein" meaning to dive. But I can't seem to find such a verb in Little-&-Scott. I do see a noun ουρια, defined as "a water bird". Perhaps one of our colleagues here with more Greek can sort out the diving connection?

As to lovmia, Terres says this is "a Swedish word for a guillemot, or diving bird". Perhaps one of our colleagues with some Swedish, or at least a Swedish dictionary, might confirm or refute this,

More soon.
 

Iynx

Consularis
2. Terres says that Alca is "the Scandinavian name" for auks, and that torda is "from [the] Swedish name for [the Razorbill]". Again, I would have to defer to a Swedish-speaking colleague, but these explanations seem plausible to me: I happen to know that the German for Razorbill is "Tordalk".
 

Iynx

Consularis
3. Cepphus grylle. There was anciently a seabird called in Greek κεπφοσ; Little-&-Scott think it might have been the stormy petrel. I have no idea how the name came to be transferred to its present owners.

Terres quotes one Coues from 1882 as deriving the specific name from a Greek word meaning "I grunt". Γρυλς means "pig", and Little-&-Scott confirm that γρυλιζω refers to the grunting of swine.
 

Iynx

Consularis
4. Synthliboramphus hypoleuca. Well the hypoleuca is Greek again, meaning "somewhat white". The ramphus is from ραμφη, "beak", and the synthlibo from συνθλιβω, "press together". I think the generic name must refer to the laterally compressed beak, and that the name as a whole might be rendered "The Somewhat-White Squashed-Beak".

Not a bad name, though I do like your "Suit-Wearing Northern Low-White" better.

I hope this is helpful to you. I should emphasize that I have very little Greek, and no Swedish at all; I would be glad of input from colleagues competent in those tongues.
 

featherbrain

New Member
Thank you soooo much Iynx!! That really helped, we have made it through pages of birds with out much trouble, but for some reason the alcids (the family of birds posted previously) have really caused quite a delay in our work. I think it's because the scientific names are in so many different languages. Both of us (me and my partner) are definitely amateurs, my only experience with latin has been the past few months (the amount of time we've been working on this).
I will have to show you our website when we are all done (so you can check over all of our other translations :) )


Thanks again!!


featherbrain
 

featherbrain

New Member
Ahh, here's one more that we've had a lot of trouble with:

Dovekie - Alle alle - The best we've done is Opposite, maybe referring to it's Black and White Plumage?

Thanks
 

QMF

Civis Illustris
That is now my second favorite German word, next to Schadenfreude.
 

featherbrain

New Member
Thank you Iynx for all the help, you're a lifsaver!
Here's another stumper.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris

Thanks!
 

Iynx

Consularis
λοχος, in Greek, means "ambush". It can also mean the men making the ambush, or, presumably by extension, any group of men, especialy a military unit. It can mean a ruler's court. Rarely it means "childbirth"-- usually (I think) that's λοχια. The "Archi-" prefix signifies "chief" or "first".

That doesn't help us much. One wonders whether "first ambush" or "prime war-party" may in some way be related to the Mesoamerican connection between hummingbirds and the god of war. Neither I nor Terres knows.

A reasonably Latinate person, encountering the word "colubris", has a picture of a snake form in his or her head. Coluber and colubra mean snake (one form is masculine, the other feminine). The words refer especially to certain monster-snakes, like those forming the hair of Medusa). Colubris is the dative-ablative plural, which would be unusual, but not impossible, as a specific name.

But the name may have nothing to do with snakes at all. I will again quote Terres, who says of the species name that the "derivation and meaning [are] not clear (Coues, 1882); from S. Amrican Indian name colubri (Sprunt 1954a) for these birds (Gruson, 1972); see however, Choate (1973)".

I have no immediate access to those references, but I will expand them for you:

Coues, E.: Birds of the Northwest...U.S. Government Printing Office, 1882

Sprunt, Jr., A.: Florida Birdlife, Coward-McCann /Nat'l Audubon Society, 1954.

Gruson, E.S.: Words for Birds, Quadrangle/ NY Times Book Co., 1972.

Choate, E. A.: The Dictionary of Bird Names. Gambit, 1973.

The last two might be of particular value to your project, if you can find copies. I'm sorry I can't be of more help to you on the ruby-throat.
 
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