'Jabiru' and nomenclature

To: <>, "'Mark Carter'" <>, "'birding aus'" <>
Subject: 'Jabiru' and nomenclature
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2009 16:02:20 +1100
Hideous to think that anyone would call a wombat a badger! Is that
really true? Surely not! They are not remotely similar.

Then again it is just as absurd to call our Magpie a Magpie. Sure we
call it an Australian Magpie but think about how much keystrokes and ink
that wastes over all the writing about birds that we do. Just to give
the wrong impression that the creature is somehow some kind of
Australian version of something else of the northern hemisphere that
happens to also be black and white and of similar size.

Aboriginal names are full of problems, as there are so many of them and
they do not necessarily follow a species concept. More importantly their
use would lose links to widely used names of related species elsewhere.
E.g. there are probably many Aboriginal names for the Wedge-tailed Eagle
but we should not use them because we should not lose the connection
that it is an eagle. I would only suggest their use in a very small
number of cases for very distinctive endemic or mostly Australian groups
(but don't ask me which). In contrast, my suggestion of a bird group
name of "Cush" as Cuckoo-shrike is to create a new name that dispenses
with the old and silly name and yet its origin still refers to it
(simply by being a truncation). This is just an ordinary part of
evolution of language.

Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah  ACT  2902

02 - 62314041

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of

Sent: Tuesday, 24 November 2009 3:16 PM
To: Mark Carter; birding aus
Subject: Re: Subject: [Birding-Aus] Re 'Jabiru'

Wombats are still badgers in parts of Tasmania!

Excellent suggestion Mark.   There will be problems with the plethora of
Aboriginal languages (and the difficulty English speakers have
pronouncing Aboriginal words) and differences between their taxonomy and
that of Western science but and it shouldn't be too great a task.

Consider the following:

Western Kulin names (from southwestern Victoria)

Maerii - Gang Gang Cockatoo
Pirtuup - Sandpiper
Wilann - Black Cockatoo [probably Red-tailed]

Eastern Kulin names (from central Victoria)

Kruk-wor-rum - Snipe
Dulum - Black Duck
Bath-mum - Wood Duck
Uu-gup - King Parrot
Barrawarn - Australian Magpie
Tee-yung - Rose Robin
Nup-nup or Bik-mum - [Magpie] goose

Some of the words may not use the linguistically preferred spelling but
you should get an idea of what could work.



I agree with Philip Veerman's post- the confusing 'Jabiru' is just the
tip of the iceberg when it comes to Australian bird common names. I
think settlers did Australian birds a great diservice when they set
about naming them after the vaguely similar species of elsewhere but it
was understandible. What I don't understand is the way 21st century
ornithology persists with these clumsy confusing labels. A Red-capped
Robin is not a robin in much the same way than a Koala bear is not a
bear. Mammologists have gotten over this dodgy inheritance years ago-
native cats are now almost universally renamed quolls, marsupial mice
are now dunnarts (or antichinus or psuedo antichinus or...) and
porcupines are now echidnas. Australian birds such as shrike-thrushes,
woodswallows, wrens, chats, magpies, babblers and treecreepers are
intrinsically awesome and don't deserve to be encumbered by these
clumsy, 2nd hand, confusing and often dreadful misnomers (shrike-thrush
particularly makes me cringe). These is a vast and rich source of
authentic names in the many Aboriginal languages of our continent- is it
outragous to suggest we consider this?

Mark Carter
Alice Springs


Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 23:15:24 +1100
From: "Philip Veerman" <>

Surely their proper name is the Australian Black Satin-necked non-jabiru
Stork. (joke)

Why doesn't some book author take the initiative to rename some bird
groups to simpler things, like rename the Cuckoo-shrikes as Cush e.g.
"Black-faced Cush" and likewise invent other new names, so we can
dispense with all those silly names like "Cuckoo-shrike" (not a joke).
After all, names are just labels, why not have distinctive ones that
don't give wrong impressions.

Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah  ACT  2902

02 - 62314041

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