vernacular names

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: vernacular names
From: "Terry Pacey" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 11:46:05 +1000
John's reply to Syd's posting suggests that Jabiru is a bad example of a
common name for an Australian bird.  He suggests that it was a "mistake".

Bob has pointed out that Emu is also a mistake.  Am I correct in believing
that "Miner" (Noisy, Yellow-throated, Bell, Black-eared) is also a mistake?
I have always believed that they were given the name because the early
arrivals thought they were "Mynas"!  Has anyone suggested that these common
names should be changed?

If you travelled around the northern parts of Australia and asked most
people if there were Black-necked Storks around you would be met with a
blank stare.  Ask about Jabirus and you will receive an answer.  Surely,
this is the definition of a "common" name or do we mean a "common name among
ornithologists only"?

It is not only in Australia that this occurs.  The bird depicted on a
Solomon Island stamp as a Red-throated Fruit-dove is called a
Claret-breasted Fruit-dove in many books.  It has a bright red throat and
upper breast.  Those living in the Solomons have always used Red-throated as
a common name.

This changing of common names does not appear to be "cultural cringe" but
perhaps an elitism among birders to show their superior knowledge.

Terry Pacey
also a birder

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, so 
>perhaps some of them were at one time  feral, but many of them are now so 
>well ineradicably established here that the earlier usage of " Eurasian, 
>Oriental, American etc." is now obsolete and should be dropped.    After 
>all, we are terribly inconsistent in this usage anyway, we don't refer to 
>House Sparrows or Starlings or Pigeons as European ( or wherever they came 
>from, perhaps they should be "International Starlings eh ?), yet we do add 
>that stupid "European" to Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches, and Greenfinches. 
>This has to be just a load of old colonial baggage carried by earlier 
>ornos. And why don't we then refer to Cattle Egrets as "African" ? Isn't 
>that where they are believed to have come from ?  And all this garbage 
>about " Australian this and Australasian that" could easily be eliminated 
>by either just dropping the words or where necessary having a quick 
>descriptive renaming.
>On a final note there are many other vernacular names worth using too, like 
>Murray Magpie and Jumping Jenny, far better than those sterile old academic 
>words like European or worse, Eurasian. Yuk !

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