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Mrs Moreau's warbler : how birds got their names / Stephen Moss.

By: Moss, Stephen, 1960-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Guardian Faber, 2018Description: 357 pages : Illustrations ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781783350902; 1783350903.Other title: Mrs Moreaus warbler.Subject(s): Birds -- Nomenclature (Popular) | BirdsDDC classification: 598.014 Summary: We use names so often, and with such little thought, that we often forget to pause and wonder about their origins. What do they mean? Where did they come from? And who originally created them? Since the dawn of mankind we have been driven by a primordial urge to name the birds and beasts of the earth and skies. It is through names that we make sense of the world around us, and through understanding these names, we can arrive at a greater awareness of our world. Many of our most familiar birds are named after people or places, sometimes after their sound or appearance, or perhaps after their quirky little habits. But sometimes a little more detective work is required to find the deeper meanings and stories behind the names. And a familiar face such as the blackbird, may not turn out to be named after its colour after all.
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Non-Fiction 598.014 MOS Checked out 05/01/2020

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

We use names so often that few of us ever pause to wonder about their origins. What do they mean? And where did they come from?

From the common starling to the many-colored rush tyrant, the names we have given to birds are some of the most vivid and evocative words in the English language. They can carry whole stories - of arctic expeditions, pitched battles between rival ornithologists or touching romantic gestures.

Through fascinating encounters with the bird kingdom and the rich cast of characters responsible for coming up with their names, in Mrs Moreau's Warbler Stephen Moss shows how these words reveal as much about ourselves and our relationship with the natural world as about the creatures they describe.

We use names so often, and with such little thought, that we often forget to pause and wonder about their origins. What do they mean? Where did they come from? And who originally created them? Since the dawn of mankind we have been driven by a primordial urge to name the birds and beasts of the earth and skies. It is through names that we make sense of the world around us, and through understanding these names, we can arrive at a greater awareness of our world. Many of our most
familiar birds are named after people or places, sometimes after their sound or appearance, or perhaps after their quirky little habits. But sometimes a little more detective work is required to find the deeper meanings and stories behind the names. And a familiar face such as the blackbird, may not turn out to be named after its colour after all.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In his latest work, naturalist Moss (A Bird in the Bush) explores the origins of bird names in the English language. The author identifies three main, historical naming conventions, as the approach to naming birds has changed throughout the years. In the first and oldest of these, birds were named -according to their physical features, including size and shape, pattern or color, or sound. The cuckoo, a word that first appeared in Old English, is an example of the first type. Later, birds were named by professional scientists based on characteristics such as habitat and location; for example, the Meadow Pipit. The third and most recent way to name a bird was after a person, a naming convention popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Birds were usually identified after a scientist or explorer, such as Ross's Gull. Through lively prose and numerous examples, Moss shows that the origin of bird names is fascinating and not always entirely clear, also offering insight into the way humans use language. VERDICT This work will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those interested in science, history, and/or linguistics.-Dave Pugl, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Noting that some bird names are intuitive-"Cuckoos do indeed call out their name"-and others more obscure, British naturalist and lecturer Moss (A Bird in the Bush: A Social History of Birdwatching) breaks down the guidelines of and patterns in how birds are named in this fascinating examination. Early chapters deal, for instance, with sounds birds made that might have influenced their names-such as "crow" and "dove"-and with how some names eventually and inevitably changed as the English language itself changed. When labels based on color (e.g., red grouse, grey heron, goldfinch) became too general to be useful, ornithologists began to use "more complex and subtle shades" as well. The more species they discovered, the more visually descriptive the names got. These include the pied flycatcher and pied wagtail, the snowy owl, and the buff-bellied pipit and buff-breasted sandpiper. Subsequent sections deal also with eponymous birds, creatures named after people, primarily men, honoring themselves or paying tribute to others. The titular warbler, for example, is "an obscure and endangered songbird" named in 1938 by Reginald Ernest Moreau, an expert in bird migration, for his wife and fellow bird enthusiast, Winnie. It is one appealing story among many in a comprehensive volume certain to interest scientific readers and general audiences alike. B&w illus. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In an ideal world, the names we give to birds would make perfect sense. But as British naturalist and BBC producer Moss reveals in this marvelous and eminently readable survey, bird names range from very local folk names to lyrically descriptive names to prosaic place names. Those choices help us make sense of myriad animals and plants, and the act of naming also helped early humans survive by sharing knowledge. Some bird names are so ancient that their origin is lost; goose is the oldest bird name we know. Bird names come from the precursors of modern English, particularly Norman French (kingfisher, peregrine) and Old English (redstart means red tail). Some names echo the bird's calls (cuckoo, crow). Other names refer to colors (blackcap, goldfinch) or how the bird acts (treecreeper, nuthatch). And as the title implies, many birds were named for people (Leach's petrel, Cetti's warbler). This linguistic romp through ornithology, natural history writing, and scientific discovery is enlivened by Moss' tales of searching for some of the species he writes of. Mrs. Moreau's warbler, anyone?--Nancy Bent Copyright 2018 Booklist