or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Earlier today I was reading the comments section from a blog post, and then of course I went and closed the tab that it was in so I can't even show you the example, not that it matters: I don't like to make fun of people's comments (because they can't edit them, because nobody else can either, and because they're not usually professional writers). But I was puzzled to see the expression "miner bird", because not only did it sound familiar and yet wrong at the same time, but I couldn't figure out what the writer could possibly have meant. Eventually it dawned on me that the intended expression was "mynah bird".

The entirety of the so-useful Online Etymology Dictionary listing for the word "mynah" reads,

type of passerine bird of India and the East, "talking starling," 1769, from Hindi maina "a starling," from Skt. madana-s "love, passion," with a special sense of "bird."

That's pretty clear, except for the "'love, passion' with a special sense of 'bird'". In what sort of special sense do love and passion have anything to do with birds? (Except lovebirds.)

Anyway, that led to "passerine", which luckily I remembered I already did almost two years ago, so you can read that if you're interested.


Anonymous Jim said...

It's too bad you didn't mention "miner bird" to me - I knew instantly what they meant.

I'm quite sure the user knows the reference (noisy and annoyingly talkative) but it was learned orally (aurally?) and they've never encountered "mynah bird" in written form.

I classify this with the same category as those little "For Sale" ads where people are selling "rot iron" or "rod iron" beds. They've never encountered "wrought" and have to equate the sound to a spelling. And, let's face it, wrought iron does look a little rotten.

Sunday, February 22, 2009 9:40:00 AM  

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