Ousel / Ouzel / Woosell

To: "chat line" <>
Subject: Ousel / Ouzel / Woosell
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:25:26 +1000
Once on the book scent, our road could go forever.  In 'Shakespeare's Birds' Peter Goodfellow says "Over the years two names for the [Blackbird] have fought for supremacy:  Although 'blackbird' is first recorded in literature in The Book of St Albans of 1486, the northern half of Britain favoured 'ouzel' or 'ousel'. .... It is the second name which Shakespeare uses twice ...'
In any event, the 'standard' English-language name is not, and is unlikely ever to be again, 'Blackbird'.  Christidis and Boles follows the IOC suggestion of 'Common Blackbird', a demonstrably unsatisfactory piece of coinage.  Monroe & Sibley list 33 different kinds of 'blackbird', many of them not closely related to this one and no doubt many of them considerably more common, where they occur, than this chap.  M&S use 'Eurasian Blackbird', which I am inclined to think Shakespeare would have used were he writing plays today.  Scanning quibbles may be referred to  Suzanne Edgar, who might well prefer " 'rasian blackbird" for the iambic mode.  (I suppose it's possible, John, that WS might have gone for " 'wasian", just to keep the etymologists on their toes.)
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