Every once in a while the question “Canada goose or Canadian goose?” is used as yet another pedantic shibboleth, and I am pleased to find a birding page by Lisa Shea that addresses the issue with good sense and as scientific an attitude as any linguist could ask:

The vast majority of English speaking people call the goose that is large and has a black head—Branta canadensis—a Canadian Goose. However, its original name was a CANADA Goose.
Remember, the official name for any bird is its Latin name. So the “real” name for this creature is Branta canadensis. That’s because the bird probably has 200 different names in 200 different languages, based on its colors, its sounds, its habitat or many other reasons. Birds get named after people, after habits, after all sorts of things. The Latin name is the same around the world for that bird.
So it’s true that at one point in time the Branta canadensis was called a Canada Goose, because it was often seen flying towards Canada and living there. You could now just as easily call it a North American Goose since it is found all over North America and lives just about anywhere. It has adapted to live all across the US and into Mexico too.
So over the years, the name has changed to be Canadian Goose in English. Just like people in the 1600s used to call pumpkins “Pompions” and call vegetables “potherbs”, we have changed what we typically call the Branta canadensis to Canadian Goose.

In Canada, by the way, francophones call it bernache du Canada. (Via a typically thorough and well-informed comment by Dan Hartung.)


  1. Thanks for your comment on Ball Four-actually I had never really doubted that Bouton had written the book, but I’ve heard the allegation that he hadn’t so often that I began to wonder.
    You’ll notice I have Language Hat in my links (under Language/Literature) and I have a couple entries of yours linked in my Jan. 4 post. (Of course I’m not looking for a reciporical {sic} link as mine isn’t a language site but I wanted to mention the links!)

  2. The species was introduced long ago to Great Britain (and other parts of mainland Europe) and is very well established. But in this minority dialect of English it is a Canada goose, and is so named in all my many and various bird books. I’ve never seen or heard of it referred to as a Canadian goose.

  3. Cryptic Ned says

    I don’t know if the opinion of people who are actually birdwatchers and ornithologists matters for this discussion, but none of them/us call it a “Canadian goose” either.
    At least in North America, the names of vertebrates are standardized by species. If you called the Canada goose the Black-Necked Goose or something, people wouldn’t know what you meant outside your dialect.

  4. I don’t know if the opinion of people who are actually birdwatchers and ornithologists matters for this discussion
    Sure it does. This may be one of those situations where specialists use one term and the general public another. Or Lisa Shea may be wrong about majority use; I certainly wouldn’t know, not having much occasion to talk about the species. (When I see geese flying overhead, I just say “Geese!”)

  5. I have never in my life heard Canadian goose; since I am, in terms of actual lexical items, a prescriptivist at heart, I think it sounds wrong. (I think Canadian geese, as a plural, is less wrong sounding.)
    I would likely have thought it was a different (but related or similar-looking) species of goose. For what it’s worth.
    I suspect that different areas have different majority usages.

  6. Seems like an American (as in US) wrote the article. Here in Anglophone Canada, it’s Canada Goose. Don’t know if they call it that in Newfoundland, but the rest of the Maritimes and all the way across to the Pacific, I’ve only ever heard the one. When I lived in Utah, though, I did hear Canadian Geese used as a term once or twice.

  7. I live in the US, and I’ve never heard them called anything but Canada Geese. And that goes for newspaper articles and, I think, radio shows, as well as talking to birders. Just another data point. I think I would have noticed “Canadian Geese” because it just sounds weird to me.

  8. I don’t think I’ve heard “Canadian Goose” either, though the birds are regulars here in Oregon, and we do commonly talk about “Canada Geese.” We’re not birdwatchers particularly, & certainly not ornithologists. I don’t think we’d really know one species of Goose from another; we’d call any goose that wasn’t in a barnyard a “Canada Goose.”

  9. FWIW, another Canadian Person writing in to give the thumbs-up to Canada Goose. I would correct, and possibly scoff at anyone who called it otherwise (except for the Latin).

  10. I’ve only ever heard them called Canada Goose (or Geese)…except when they crap on you whilst flying overhead.

  11. One more Canuck in the mix, to add my voice. Fuck “Canadian Goose”, who uses that?

  12. Here is the answer to another important question:
    Just what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

  13. Great White Goose!

  14. “Great White Goose!” Do you mean Snowgeese? (Chen caerulescens)

  15. Great White Northern Goose!

  16. I’m ‘challenging’ you on that one.
    There’s a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons).*
    *’Birds of North America’ K. Kaufman
    ………there may be a connection with language there somewhere.

  17. I’m bothered enough by the consensus for “Canada goose” in this thread that I’ve e-mailed Lisa Shea to ask what she bases her statement about the “vast majority” saying “Canadian” on, but I haven’t heard back so far.

  18. To break the consensus, this DC/Virginian says “Canadian Goose” only and ever.

  19. Aha! The wall of conspiracy cracks!

  20. Please excuse PF’s quick departure, he had to take his Great Danish for a walk.

  21. Another data point: When I have seen the Branta canadensis (assuming that is what they are) bringing traffic to a halt so they may leisurely cross the roads that wind through the Boston fens (you know, LH, the ones that are next to that park), everyone around me has always called them Canada geese, perhaps with an expletive incorporated if they’re in a hurry to get somewhere.

  22. Less than three weeks ago, in a park in Birmingham, England, I was surrounded by native Brits (perhaps five adults, from Dover, Brum and Bradford) who spontaneously called the birds “Canadian Geese” – I didn’t reply that the proper term was “Canada Geese” but was very surprised that the birds were there at all.

  23. Surprised at Canada Geese in Birmingham!
    They are a well known pest in city parks in parts of England, particularly because they make a horrible mess of the grass eith their grazing and shitting.
    Here in SE Scotland I’ve only heard of Canada Geese

  24. Okay..I came upon a post in for a review of the book ‘Lab 257’ who stated:
    “…he repeatedly referred to the presence of and migratory habits of “Canadian geese”. Mr. Carroll there are no such animals. Canada geese are named after the Native American Canada tribe. These birds are not named after the country of Canada and cannot correctly be referred to as “a Canadian Air Force”. You would think that a dedicated investigative reporter obsessed with accuracy and getting things right, who claims to have interviewed many birders, would have been informed that Canada geese and not “Canadian geese” fly the skies of Plum Island. What other major details in the story are as eggregiously slipshod? It made me wonder. Who edited this book?”
    The review written prior to that had stated, “…the Canadian geese inaccuracy is pretty disturbing. Didn’t this guy talk to any real biologists/birders?”
    Okay..I got a little heated over these moronic statements. Gee is moronic even a word? Well this book was written about an area on Long Island. Actually my father worked at the place the book was about. He always referred to the birds as “Canadian Geese.” So did his parents and entire family who were also members of the Audubon Society. But why stop there?
    I just spoke to the following individuals:
    A customer in Philly (that’s Philadelphia for the mentally challenged reading this post).
    A person living in Prague called it a Goose from North America.
    The responses recieved from the following sources were all the same:
    Tucson Audubon Society
    Wild Bird Store(Canada Division)
    Wild Bird Store (Tucson)
    AZ Game & Fish(Tucson)-not geniuses to begin with
    Wild Birds Unlimited (Tucson)
    University of Arizona Dept. of Ecol. & Evol. Bio.
    International Wildlife Museum (Tucson)
    (…….not too mention online searches!)
    1.Canadian Geese
    2.Canada Goose
    4.Branta canadensis
    Furthermore, it was mentioned by half of the respondents and myself that it would be
    improper/sound strange to say “Canada Geese” based on the phrases:
    “Canada Hockey Team” vs. “Canadian Hockey Team”.
    While they are both correct..gramatically speaking, one does sound more appropriate.
    When questioned about the usage of “Canada Goose”, the results were split. Of course either name would be correct, though half would have choosen the term “Canada Goose” while the remaining would simply use the word “Goose”.
    I have found no evidence of a Native American Indian Tribe (not to mention my Native American neighbors have not either. The one post where I saw that the Canada(ian) Goose was named after a person seemed to be based on his opinion only.
    Unfortunately I had other things to do then waste my time on this…but I just happened to stumble on this board and this reponse was created for the idiot on
    Lastly, since the book was about a town on Long Island, the author is correct in using the terminology used by the people living in that area. To use the lingo not common for that area would make the author seem more distant from his research. If it was common to call the geese a swan..then he should use that terminology with a footnote.
    The first reviewer had an excuse..he was from N.J. We don’t expect much from them to begin with. Although while traveling in Pa. once, I did come upon a family at a general store (who used a TORO for transportation), and asked them for directions on how to get back on the main highway just past the chain link fence behind the store. Their response? “We never did travel on that road before.” {I guess the TORO just ain’t fast enuff for that there road.} Apparently NY’ers either have the monopoly on being flawless with their opinions while everyone else who is blessed to be in their presence is drowning in a sea of unconscience ignorance.
    Lastlee…langgwije iz usd 2 transfur thawts. If I saa sum’im n u ken unnnerstan it..I did mi job. If u ax mee sum’im n I dont unnerstan whatya saa’un..then that iz uh delemma.

  25. “Furthermore, it was mentioned by half of the respondents and myself that it would be
    improper/sound strange to say “Canada Geese” based on the phrases:
    “Canada Hockey Team” vs. “Canadian Hockey Team”.
    While they are both correct..gramatically speaking, one does sound more appropriate.”
    Well, it’s incorrect to compare Canada Geese with the Canadian Hockey Team. The name of the Goose IS the “Canada Goose” and not just a Goose from Canada – the plural of Goose is Geese, so more than one Canada Goose are Canada Geese – you generally never pluralize (or change the tense of) the describing adjectives when they are all part of the noun itself.
    So, it ‘should’ be Canada Geese regardless of what sounds better.

  26. Acey Tharrington says

    I’ve said Canadian geese. I still say it. I was told that the correct way to say this is Canada goose. If that is right, a person from a country, such as Iran, would be called an Iran person instead of Iranian.

  27. Acey Tharrington says

    All I know is, the white ones bite.

  28. marie-lucie says

    Decades spent in English Canada, I say Canada goose/geese like everyone I know. “Canadian geese” would refer to the several species of geese spending at least part of their time in Canada, including the farm-raised ones.

    In French the official name is (la) bernache du Canada as opposed to similar species in other continents, but in everyday conversation simply (la) bernache.

  29. Did you know that there’s a Canadian River in Kansas? It goes nowhere near Canada. It’s a tributary of the Arkansas River. Also, along much of its length the Arkansas River is pronounced to rhyme with Kansas rather than like the state of Arkansas.

  30. Actually, the Canadian River doesn’t run through Kansas–it runs even further south. It rises in New Mexico, flows through the Texas Panhandle, and joins the Arkansas River (yes, Ar ‘kan sas, not ‘Ar kan saw) River in Oklahoma.

  31. marie-lucie says

    Canada goose, Iran person

    The Canada goose is one species of goose, found notably in Canada but also in other places. Canadian geese are all the geese in Canada, not just the ones called Canada geese. I don’t think there is more than one species of humans in Iran.

  32. It’s the ArKANsas River in Oklahoma and Kansas, but the ARKansaw in Arkansaw, er, Arkansas. Colorado usage is divided. I don’t know what Mexicans call it: it was part of the international border from 1821 to 1848.

  33. “It’s the ArKANsas River in Oklahoma and Kansas, but the ARKansaw in Arkansaw, er, Arkansas.”

    I’m a person of Okie heritage. ArKANsas.

  34. I live in southern Oregon and this very topic was a point of discussion a couple of nights ago. I was enjoying a beautiful evening on the river with my boyfriend and some friends when someone pointed and exclaimed “Oh! Look at the Canadian geese!” That made me wonder if the phrase should’ve been “Oh! Look at the Canada geese!” Since the geese aren’t true “residents” of Canada, I’m leaning toward the term Canada geese.

    I hear people in Oregon refer to “Canadian geese” frequently.

  35. Hogwash! Come out with all the reasons you can dream up to call them Canadian geese and they are all wrong.

    Canadians are people that are considered to be residents of Canada. Geese are residents, but not people. Some have said here that the term Canada geese is outdated and they are properly called Canadian geese. That is rubbish and incorrect.

    It doesn’t matter if they are in Canada or not they are Canada geese. How could you in any way call the species that may happen to be in the United States, or elsewhere “Canadians”?

  36. Here in New Jersey, most people I come across say Canadian geese.

  37. I’ll just add that in the nearly 30 years I spent in Pennsylvania, I never once heard “Canada Goose”. It was always “Canadian.”

    I’ll take common usage over pedantry anytime.

  38. I’ll take common usage over pedantry anytime.

    You and me both!

  39. marie-lucie says

    I’ll take common usage over pedantry anytime.

    A sound attitude, but “common usage” often varies according to country or region, as demonstrated in this very thread. It’s an “I say tomato, you say tomahto” situation.

  40. I have lived in places where “Canada Goose” was the norm, and other places where it was “Canadian Goose.” I’m not sure I can remember which regions used which names though.

  41. Bathrobe says

    J W Calloway’s comment is so misguided as to be laughable. What would he have to say about German cockroaches?

  42. I am absolutely amazed that people (in the U.S. no less!) have never heard these birds called Canadian geese! I have never heard it any other way, my whole life! When I first saw Canada geese written somewhere, I thought it was yet another example of our language being ruined!

  43. Just as I’ve learned to accept that there are people who have never heard any term but Welsh rarebit, and if they heard Welsh rabbit would think it absurd.

  44. To me, a frequent observer and appreciator of that bird, Canadian goose sounds as wrong as saying Southern Africa when referring to South Africa. A Canadian goose is to me any goose which happens to be Canadian.

    If it ever comes to needing a neutral compromise, I propose “Mainland nēnē”.

    P.S. Lynn, what part of the U.S. do you live in? Here on the west coast I never heard anything but “Canada goose”.

  45. From my “neck of the woods”, western Washington and western Oregon, I grew up hearing and saying Canadian goose/geese … Just today, discovered the official name is Canada goose ( while researching geese I saw at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

  46. -A Canadian goose is to me any goose which happens to be Canadian.

    Isn’t it rather any Canadian who happens to be a goose?

  47. David Marjanović says

    No, that would be a Goose-Canadian or Anserine-Canadian – compare African-American.

  48. If a flock of Canada geese lands in the U.S. are they “Canadian”? I’ve never been able to check their passports. It’s Canada goose. However “Canadian goose” is used frequently enough that it is somewhat acceptable, even if incorrect.

  49. In Canada we say “Canada goose”. “Canadian goose” is American. In any case they are free to travel over the border, without government-issued ID cards or travel documents.

  50. canadian goose would indeed mean ‘goose that is canadian’ when goose means ‘silly person’.

  51. Or a very polite pinch to the butt.

  52. Perhaps we should ask the geese what they prefer?

  53. My wife add, I think they prefer cornfields.

  54. I agree with your wife.

    Just as a point of interest, the Recent Comments at this moment include only pre-Word Press ALL CAPS post titles:

    Carroll on CANADIAN GEESE.
    languagehat on NOV SHMOZ KA POP.
    Carroll on CANADIAN GEESE.
    John Cowan on AITCH OR HAITCH?
    Marja Erwin on AITCH OR HAITCH?
    Trond Engen on NOV SHMOZ KA POP.
    Trond Engen on NOV SHMOZ KA POP.
    John Cowan on NOV SHMOZ KA POP.
    languagehat on NOV SHMOZ KA POP.

  55. For some reason, my comment attempts on “AITCH OR HAITCH” and “BORIO-BOOLA-GHA” disappeared. Is it something about the upper-cased-ness, or pre-wordpressedness, or the age of the post?

    So, this is an experiment.

  56. Damn, I hate that. Feel free to e-mail me your comments and I’ll post them for you.

  57. Lars (the original one) says

    It has nothing to do with Owlmirror’s problem — though who knows with computers — but the current page template has a “text-transformation: uppercase” style applied to the title which is stored in title case in the database (or with whatever case our noble host uses when entering it), which is why it can appear as entered in other contexts; presumably the pre-Wordpress software just converted the title to upper case before storing it, which is why the old posts look like that.

  58. I believe that in the Movable Type and Blogger versions Steve deliberately uppercased all titles by hand.

  59. Lars (the original one) says

    Yes, sometimes you have to help the software a bit.

  60. I believe that in the Movable Type and Blogger versions Steve deliberately uppercased all titles by hand.

    Correct, though I no longer have any idea why.

  61. Carl Fritz says

    I am surprised to see that a lot of people commenting from the U.S. have only heard these geese called Canada geese. I’ve lived in Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and New Jersey and I don’t think that I have ever heard the term Canada goose (or geese if more than one) until today. I’ve only heard them called Canadian geese. I guess we all have different experiences.

  62. TVirginian here (Hampton Roads/Tidewater area) : Canadian Goose.

    Don’t know why, just learned it that way and always used it. I’ve never heard people here use “Canada Goose.” (Not to say no one says “Canada Goose” here, only that I’ve not heard that term in my 30+ years of living here).

    Beautiful birds, I enjoy watching and hearing them fly over. Not so much on the poop though.. 🙂

  63. Sorry, what is a TVirginian? (If that was a typo, sorry!)

  64. I assumed it was a typo, but now I’m curious. (I’m also curious about why after a nine-year gap people started coming by in 2014 to share their usage; there’s been a steady drip ever since.)

  65. It’s not all that surprising: comments were closed sometime after the original post until the conversion to WordPress, remember. When was that now? 2013? How quickly we forget.

  66. Don John Rosinski says

    I think many folks call the Canadian Geese often when speaking in the plural. Not that it makes it right but I often hear some gunners call them Canadian and I don’t think they ever gave it a thought. The proper Name is Canada Goose, at least as far as biologically named.

  67. ‘Canada Goose’ on YouTube/the internet is stupid jackets but also the animal
    ‘Canadian Goose’ on YouTube/the internet is the animal

    I don’t want half my searches to be a fashion company, I’d rather type the latter and get what I want.

  68. John Kinney says

    I used the term “Canadian Geese” just yesterday (as I have my whole life having lived in NY,OH,TX,NJ,CT,NH) and was corrected for the first time that it’s “Canada Geese”. I paused for a moment and asked why then do we say “American Bald Eagle”? She didn’t have answer, but insisted “Canada Geese” was correct and to say otherwise made me appear foolish. My reply was to go with what was popular for ‘the locals’ and that I suspect both versions are equally acceptable now.

  69. I suspect you’re right.

  70. AJP Crown says

    Just to pipe up, they’re called Kanadagås (Canada goose) in Norway. There are lots of them around the lake where I live, and I love them.

    “Branta canadensis—a Canadian Goose”
    Oh, bullshit. Canadiensis is merely a made-up genitive from the English where ‘of Canada’ or just ‘Canada’ are as reasonable and accurate as ‘Canadian’ is. It’s Linnaeus, it’s not like we got the name from Juvenal.

  71. Stu Clayton says

    Unlike “juvenile” and “bread and breakfasts”.

  72. People put too much store by ornithological names. Many were bestowed by 19th century biologists as they fanned out across the world to conquer new scientific horizons. Names often reflected local usage (if they were in English speaking areas) but just as often represented the preferences of the bestower, in many cases paying homage to this or that European collector.

    There have long been competing names, partly on a regional basis, enshrined in competing bird lists, all of which attempt to impose a single standard name for each species. But if you think that these regional lists enshrine local popular usage, think again. Even North American lists often privilege ornithological over popular usage, which (to cite a single example) is why they use “buzzard” in a way that differs from ordinary American usage.

    As scientific advances (particularly molecular biology techniques like DNA-DNA hybridisation) have revolutionised the taxonomy, ornithologists have constantly been trying to tinker with names in order to bring them closer to the taxonomy. This resulted in a lot of abominations like “laughingthrush”, designed to show that this is a particular type of bird, not a “laughing thrush”.

    Now there is the world bird list of the International Ornithological Congress (IOC), an attempt to create a standardised list of English bird names around the world. The site notes that “Wisdom begins with putting the right name on a thing” (Old Chinese Proverb), which is actually a reference to Confucius.

    Wikipedia summarises some of the rules for bird spelling and naming as follows:

    * Official English names of species are capitalized (as was already the practice among ornithologists)
    * Patronyms (names of people) are used in the possessive form, e.g., “Ross’s Gull”
    * Names used do not include diacriticals or inflection marks
    * Compromises are made between British and American spellings
    * Users are encouraged to spell and use pronunciation marks according to their preference
    * Geographical names may be the noun or adjective form, but must be consistent for the location, e.g., Canada (as in “Canada Goose” and “Canada Warbler”), not Canadian, but African (as in “African Piculet” or “African Wood Owl”), not Africa
    * Compound words adhere to a set of rules designed to be consistent in their balancing of readability and the relationships of the words
    * Hyphens are minimized, but for compound group names, hyphens are used only to connect two names that are themselves bird species or families, e.g., “Eagle-Owl”, “Wren-Babbler”, or when the combined name would be difficult to read, e.g., “Silky-flycatcher”.

    All this stuff is wonderfully laudable, with a capital L, but there is a lot of wrangling and compromising over names, including backtracks in the face of criticism, and earlier established or local usage is either incorporated or ejected in favour of their worldwide standard.

    So if you say “Canada Goose” you are following what the ornithologists tell you. If you say “Canadian Goose”, you are “incorrect”. But the same goes if you use any local or popular name (like “chicken hawk”) that doesn’t appear on their lists.

  73. I’ve written about the weird and wonderful world of naming at The Bell Miner: How orthography and ornithology catalysed a new folk etymology, which discusses how a bird called the “Bellbird” was turned into the “Bell Miner” by ornithologists.

    As it turns out, I was wrong about some of the details. In particular, “Bell Miner” is quite old — it actually appeared at the end of the 19th century — but the shenanigans of ornithologists setting “standard names” is captured well, as well as popular perceptions that the ornithological names are “correct” and others are not. The article concludes with a look at the kinds of howler that result when bird names are translated into other languages for their standardised world lists…

  74. AJP Crown says

    Bath, the Bell Miner link doesn’t work. I’m interested in all of this so thanks for the explanation. I’m all for the Latin names myself. It’s the same with plants, it helps me unravel what Norwegians are talking about. The only advance on Linnæus’s idea has been Wikipedia, where I can look things up in one language and then just press a button to get an English lang. version. This morning I heard a woodpecker from my front door, which means it’s spring.

    I didn’t mean to imply I have any prob. with the ‘Canadian goose’ usage. I might easily say it myself.

    Stu, WTF? Crossword clue?

  75. Bathrobe says

    The Bell Miner: How orthography and ornithology catalysed a new folk etymology (Forgot to include http://)

    Latin names are great, but they change all the time because they keep changing genus and family affiliations (due to new discoveries).

  76. David Marjanović says

    I did not know the IOC was explicitly engaged in Rectification of Names!

    molecular biology techniques like DNA-DNA hybridisation

    Ooh, that was a brief fad in the early 1990s that generated one big beautiful picture (called “the Tapestry”) and then disappeared when people developed techniques to actually sequence their DNA samples.

    It gave a measure of total gross similarity, which is generally not the same as a phylogenetic tree. A lot of the Tapestry is just flat-out wrong.

    This resulted in a lot of abominations like “laughingthrush”, designed to show that this is a particular type of bird, not a “laughing thrush”.

    Should have made it an explicit compound noun, like in German: “laughthrush”. Assuming anybody can read through ghth on the first attempt.

  77. AJP Crown says

    Explanation of what’s meant by rigour (by analogy, in eg Architecture):

    Not that it would care, but look at a picture of a white-crested laughingthrush, Garrulax leucolophus, and see the paradox of giving this bird a name that presents in as many words two conflicting linguistic rules that don’t really work when the bird itself is aesthetically perfect.

  78. ktschwarz says

    AJP: look things up in one language and then just press a button to get an English lang. version — do you know NatureGate? It covers wildlife of Finland, which I assume has a lot in common with wildlife of Norway. Unlike Wikipedia, it has exactly the same information in each language, translated by humans: no stub articles.

    Norwegian & Swedish Kanadagås = Danish Canadagås (huh, Danish tolerates c’s in loanwords much more than Norwegian) = Finnish Kanadanhanhi (Kanadan is genitive case).

  79. AJP Crown says

    do you know NatureGate?

    No! That’s brilliant. Extremely useful for me. It goes straight on my Bookmarks menu at the top of the screen. Thank you so much, kt. I see it’s got butterflies, birds, trees & fish as well. I love how it narrows the options by colour, habitat etc. and that it’s a Finnish invention and so fairly local.

    Danish tolerates c’s in loanwords much more than Norwegian

    Yes. Norwegian is nearly all-K (also QU becomes KV in most loans) perhaps because it has an official body that decides on how to accept such things, as they do in France. I love the German word ‘Architekt’ which has both, and so doesn’t look very consequent, but I bet it is (because German).

  80. Avibase on Canada Goose:

    Cornish notable for calling it “Goth Canada”.

  81. Trond Engen says

    ktschwarz: Finnish Kanadanhanhi (Kanadan is genitive case).

    … and hanha is a pretty old loan by the look of it.

  82. The Douglas fir genus (Pseudotsuga) is technically a Douglas-fir.

  83. AJP Crown says

    Trond: hanha is a pretty old loan

    But in which direction? Does Norway borrow from Finland?

  84. ktschwarz says

    According to Wiktionary, Proto-Finnic borrowed *hanhi from Balto-Slavic.

    Almost every name in that Avibase list is “Canada something”; one exception is, as you might guess, Inuktitut.

  85. hanha

    Just sounds like honking to me.

  86. ktschwarz says

    Wiktionary agrees again: the source of the loan to Proto-Finnic is traced to PIE *ǵʰh₂éns ‘goose’, “probably of imitative origin”.

  87. Trond Engen says

    I was thinking of an Indo-Iranian or Iranian cognate of Germanic *gansa-. But probably rather a Baltic *žansa- (or something).

  88. David Marjanović says

    I love the German word ‘Architekt’ which has both, and so doesn’t look very consequent, but I bet it is (because German).

    It is, because it’s pronounced accordingly (ch as /x/).

  89. January First-of-May says

    Almost every name in that Avibase list is “Canada something”; one exception is, as you might guess, Inuktitut.

    An exception that I didn’t guess is Czech and Slovak, both of which appear to say “large barnacle”.
    (Presumably the word I’m interpreting as “barnacle” might actually be the local term for “goose” – cf. Polish – but even so there’s no part interpretable as “Canada”.)

    Russian apparently classifies it as Canadian but not as a goose (which would have been гусь in Russian).

  90. David Marjanović says
  91. January First-of-May says

    Barnacle goose.

    I know that, which is why I assumed that the word I interpreted as a cognate of barnacle was the local term for “goose”.

    Some googling indicates that it is actually the local term for “goose of the Branta genus” (or something along those lines), similarly to Russian казарка.

  92. Bathrobe says

    Almost every name in that Avibase list is “Canada something”; one exception is, as you might guess, Inuktitut.

    I would like to point out, again, that these are ornithological names, set up by ornithologists as the official names in each language. Often names are simply translated holus bolus from other languages, and that tends to mean English. Some rely on the scientific names. Inuktitut is an exception in the table of words for Canada Goose, and I strongly doubt that Inuktitut even has a world wide list of bird names. You need someone to actually sit down and do it, which means that such lists generally exist only for European languages and a few major Asian languages.

    Compare the Ryukyu Robin (Larvivora komadori), where there is a broader range of naming.

    What is interesting about the Ryukyu Robin (Japanese: komadori) is that Temminck got it mixed up with the Japanese Robin (Japanese: akahige ‘red beard’) and reversed them in assigning the scientific names. It has never been changed.

    Many languages just follow the English with ‘Ryukyu Robin’ and ‘Japanese Robin’. French incorporates Temminck’s erroneous assignment of names in its list of official names. It’s all a bit of a game, ladies and gentlemen.

  93. Bathrobe says

    ‘Barnacle Goose’ comes from a very old legend that these geese were actually born from barnacles. It is not a local term for ‘goose of the Branta genus’. In fact, the Brent Goose and the Barnacle Goose were once considered one species, now split but both belonging to the Branta genus. This would account for the use of ‘barnacle goose’ for ‘geese of the Branta genus’. (Ornithologists love to sound scientific, which is why they delight in saying things like ‘a term for geese of the Branta genus, when I suspect it would be more accurate to say that ‘it was formerly used for Branta bernicla and Branta leucopsis when the two were considered one species’.)

  94. January First-of-May says

    In any case, what the Czech and Slovak terms (appear to) literally mean is “large barnacle [goose]” (no mention of Canada), while the Polish is “Canadian barnacle [goose]”.

    I’m not sure how to categorize the Russian.

  95. Just sounds like honking to me.

    I believe the same goes for the Turkic qaz (and the Japanese kari /karigane):

    かり2【雁】 ローマ(kari)
    〔ガン〕 a wild goose 《pl. geese》. [=がん2]

    かりがね【雁が音・雁金・雁】 ローマ(karigane)
    1 〔ガンの鳴き声〕 the ┌cry [honk] of a wild goose.
    2 〔ガンの別名〕 a wild goose.
    3 【鳥】 〔カモ科の鳥〕 a lesser white-fronted goose; Anser erythropus.

  96. David Marjanović says

    It has never been changed.

    It can’t be changed, absent evidence from the publication itself that there has been an inadvertent error. There are many more such cases, of course.

  97. John Cowan says

    ‘Barnacle Goose’ comes from a very old legend that these geese were actually born from barnacles.

    The OED s.v. barnacle shows that (a) the application of the word to the goose predates by several centuries the application to the crustacean; and (b) the earliest legend we have is that they hatched out of tree-fruit, a notion well expressed by Hakluyt (in a translation from the French): “There stand certaine trees vpon the shore of the Irish sea, bearing fruit like unto a gourd, which […] doe fall into the water, and become birds called Bernacles.”

    What is more, although the word is now international in scope, the earliest known use (in the 12C) is in English, and the English form before the addition of the Latin -ulum diminutive (via French) was bernak(k)(e). If this is to be interpreted at all, it must be as bare-neck or bear-neck, “of which”, says the OED, “the application is not evident.” Wikt implies that Old Normand had bernaque first (again for the goose), but gives no citations, and the word has even less etymology in French than in English.

    By contrast, the OED’s first citation of barnacle for the crustacean is 16C, and even this is dubious: “Barnacles thousandes at once are noted alowe theis shoares [of Ireland] to hange by the beakes aboute the edges of putrified tymber […] whiche in prosces taking lyvely heate of the sonne become water-foules.” This also gives the crustacean-to-goose legend for the first time with no mention of trees; however, the use of beaks strongly suggests that the author had never seen a barnacle in situ: he attributes the report to Giraldus Cambrensis and to “credible persons” that he has heard himself. He also talks about the question of whether barnacles are fish or flesh for Catholic purposes: the question was unsettled in his time, at least in Ireland.

    Of course, the barnacle goose does not breed in Ireland but (until the 20C) solely in the Arctic, which is why there were so many legends: until modern times no European had seen a nest. The present breeding populations are on Greenland, Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya, and (since 1975) the islands of the Baltic Sea.

    There is another word barnacle meaning a clamp put on horses’ noses to subdue them, as for shoeing or surgery. The OED denies any connection and traces the word, again in the form bernakk, to the same 12C work (the Promptorum parvulorum, a kid’s Latin-English dictionary) as the above. Geese are territorial and can be pretty nippy (though rarely able to break human skin) if you threaten them, and barnacles clamp on to submerged timber very tightly indeed, so there may be a semantic link of some sort. The OED attributes the later sense ‘pince-nez’ to this word.

  98. Bathrobe says

    Thanks for the clarification! The Wikipedia article needs to be corrected.

  99. But probably rather a Baltic *žansa-

    Yep: Latvian zoss, Lith. žąsis < *žansis. Erzya /šenš ~ šenže/ ‘duck’ may be from the same source as well (with the same *š-s > *š-š development; I wonder if any IE language shows evidence for this).

  100. Thornwolf says

    Most midwest and east cost USA say Canadian goose/ geese.
    Most don’t know they are wrong.

  101. david lapin says

    I’m sure it is correctly pronounced “Canada Geese”. I’d like to write more on the subject, but I need to tend to my dogs, a Germany shepherd, a France poodle and an England bulldog.

  102. J Barclay says

    Despite only reading the first half of the MANY comments here, I have three comments of my own to add.
    First, it is odd that there is a large gap in comments from 2004 to 20014, and interesting because it was in this time frame that I, in Oregon, first heard someone correct the common (ubiquitous?) usage of Canadian geese to Canada geese – a conversation I have heard regularly ever since. Yes, many people still call them Canadian Geese, but you’re almost guaranteed to hear the correction “They’re called Canada geese.” A comment did acknowledge that this was common in Oregon, and I can confirm this.

    Second, there is no RIGHT way to call an organism, as the COMMON name is the name that people CALL IT. It is only the latin, or scientific name, that is formalised and proper. If people call it Canadian geese, then that is it’s common name, but not to say that it doesn’t have others. Wikipedia may say it’s common name is Canada goose, but that doesn’t negate that it may be called the ring-necked goose by another population of humans.

    Lastly, I would argue that to call something ‘of a place’ as ‘Canadian’ suggests can only refer to something that has citisenship, as countries are a cultural/political concept and not a fact of nature. However, this doesn’t stop it from being used, such as in the Puerto Rican worm lizard, which brings me to this page. Properly, it ought to be called the Puerto Rico worm lizard, but alas, that is not the common usage and not the common name. Thus, for anyone saying here that one of these names is right while the other is wrong, their argument rests on assumptions that are themselves invalid – as pointed out using sarcasm in the post above.

    All three of these points irk me equally, but I think point two is what irks me most about the conversation on this page. A common name is not formal and therefore cannot be wrong.. just less common, less useful, or even less accepted.

  103. Trond Engen says

    J. Barclay: A common name is not formal and therefore cannot be wrong.. just less common, less useful, or even less accepted.

    A sensible approach, and not at all controversial around here, except sometimes a tongue can get stuck in a cheek.

    the Puerto Rican worm lizard, which brings me to this page

    A pretzel from the Amphisbaena bakery*.

    *) Unfortunately not. I couldn’t find that. This appears to be from Paraguay so A. something else.

  104. I think it’s really neat that leglessness in squamates appears to have evolved at least three separate times.

  105. Stu Clayton says

    To lose one leg may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose all of them looks like carelessness.

    On the other hand, it’s clear the legs were not needed for survival.

    One frequently encounters people who continue to argue a point although they don’t have a leg to stand on. Evolution leaves a lot of wriggle room, as snakes demonstrate.

  106. David Marjanović says

    at least three separate times.

    More often. Way more often!

    Mammals can’t become stretched like that. Weasels already have twice the resting metabolic rate you’d expect for their size so they can stay warm in spite of their unfavorable surface-to-volume ratio.

  107. Stu Clayton says

    It’s not a stretch to see that whales and otters are already long. Did snakes and worms have short ancestors ?

  108. Lars (the original one) says

    Snakes are reptiles, and the earliest (and ancestral) reptiles looked much like what we call lizards now. You decide if that is ‘short’.

    The same goes for “worm lizards” of course. Worms in general — there are species all over the evolutionary tree that are called ‘worms’ of some kind, I don’t think there is any useful generalization to be made about their ancestors.

  109. Stu Clayton says

    I was just trying to understand the rationale for bringing up “stretching”, in particular, as an evolutionary possibility, but just not for mammals. I would have thought possibilities of all kinds must have abounded, because different types of animal in fact abound. This is about genealogy, not the unfolding of plans, no ?

  110. Lars (the original one) says

    I think the point is that most types of animals are ‘free’ to evolve to a thinner, longer body plan, so some of them do, but not so much mammals because it changes their surface to mass ratio and increases the calories per kilogram per day needed for endothermal metabolism.

    A similar effect is what makes very small birds like colibris rare — they need to feed on sugar because the square-cube thing leaves them no margin to maintain the ability to fly while actually digesting other foods. Fish and frogs can get down to the 7-8mm range because they only need to swim.

  111. Stu Clayton says

    We might then speculate that most types of animals, including mammals, are “free” to evolve to a fatter, longer body plan. That way they don’t cross swords with the square-cube thing. For example, Trump is tall and consumes a lot of Big Macs, mitigated with Diet Cokes. This might not be a practical template for successful evolution, though, since Big Macs don’t abound in Nature.

  112. David Marjanović says

    All of this. Snakes don’t need to care about staying warm, mammals do.

  113. Lars (the original one) says

    Well, get big enough and the square-cube law hits you on the load-bearing front instead. Elephants don’t jump. I don’t know if Trump does.

    Whales can be the ultimate in long and wide because buoyant.

  114. David Marjanović says

    Elephants don’t jump.

    They still could if they were a lot more muscular. Check out Triceratops.

  115. Stu Clayton says

    Elephants don’t jump. I don’t know if Trump does.

    This morning I read that when there was a mike failure at the Democrat debates, Trump “pounced” on it.

  116. Lars (the original one) says

    I was adding to my comment in re dinosaurs, and then the timer ran out and the results of my arduous research went poof.

    I was looking for an explanation why elephants don’t get larger, clearly it’s not just skeletal restrictions when Argentinosaurus could be 15 times heavier. Even for land mammals they are not at the upper limit, though. There are extinct elephant and rhino relatives that got up to about 15 tons, but that still leaves a factor of four to be explained.

    Maybe the existence of relatively agile predators like sabertooth cats made running mandatory? The dinosaur predators that could take on the big herbivores may have been slower.

  117. Stu Clayton says

    Hint: work up the text in some other editor. When it’s finished, copy it to the comment field here

  118. Lars (the original one) says

    I usually just copy the text to the clipboard before pressing ‘post’, but in this case I was using the edit facility and was not prepared for the edit box to simply disappear when the timer ran out. (I might have rescued it with Inspector magic, since I suspect it was just set to not display, but it was too warm).

  119. John Cowan says

    Elephants (or so I have read) cannot run, but can walk (or amble) fast enough to trample a running man, and while they can stride over a six-foot trench with ease, a seven-foot trench is an impassable barrier (but this must be relative to the size of the elephant in question).

  120. David Marjanović says

    an explanation why elephants don’t get larger


    cannot run

    Elephants never get all fours off the ground at the same time, but biomechanically speaking they do run, which means using flexion & extension of their limbs as a spring mechanism as opposed to using straight limbs as pogo sticks.

  121. John Cowan says

    Then there are Poul Anderson’s Ythrians:

    The Ythrian is carnivorous, aside from various sweet fruits. Carnivores require larger regions per individual than herbivores or omnivores do, in spite of the fact that meat has more calories per kilo than most vegetable matter […].

    They mass as high as thirty kilos; yet they can lift an equal weight into the air or, unhampered, fly like demons. Hence they maintain civilization without the need to crowd together in cities. Their townspeople are mostly wing-clipped criminals and slaves. Today their wiser heads hope robots will end the need for that.

    Hands? The original talons, modified for manipulating. Feet? Those claws on the wings, a juvenile feature which persisted and developed, just as man’s large head and sparse hair derive from the juvenile or fetal ape. The forepart of the wing skeleton consists of humerus, radius, and ulnar, much as in true birds. These lock together in flight. Aground, when the wing is folded downward, they produce a “knee” joint. Bones grow from their base to make the claw-foot. Three fused digits, immensely lengthened, sweep backward to be the alatan which braces the rest of that tremendous wing and can, when desired, give additional support on the surface. To rise, the Ythrians usually do a handstand during the initial upstroke. It takes less than a second.

    Oh, yes, they are slow and awkward afoot. They manage, though. Big and beweaponed, instantly ready to mount the wind, they need fear no beast of prey. You ask where the power comes from to swing this hugeness through the sky. The oxidation of food, what else? Hence the demand of each household for a great hunting or ranching demesne. The limiting factor is the oxygen supply. A molecule in the blood can carry more than hemoglobin does, but the gas must be furnished. […] The Ythrian has lungs, a passive system resembling ours. In addition he has his supercharger, evolved from the gills of an amphibianlike ancestor Worked in bellows fashion by the flight muscles, connecting directly with the bloodstream, those air-intake organs let him burn his fuel as fast as necessary.

    I wonder how it feels to be so alive.

    —”WIngs of VIctory” (1972), included in The Earth Book of Stormgate (1978)

    Herbivorous crocodyliforms.

  122. David Marjanović says

    humerus, radius, and ulnar

    Ha! Nonrhoticity strikes again. 🙂 Or it’s a confusion of the ulna in the forearm with the ulnare in the wrist.

    The Ythrian has lungs, a passive system resembling ours. In addition he has his supercharger, evolved from the gills of an amphibianlike ancestor Worked in bellows fashion by the flight muscles, connecting directly with the bloodstream, those air-intake organs let him burn his fuel as fast as necessary.

    I don’t get it.

    I wonder how it feels to be so alive.

    It doesn’t: if you don’t have enough carbon dioxide in your blood, you pass out before your pH becomes dangerous and your blood turns into cottage cheese.

    Y’know, hyperventilation.

  123. David Marjanović says

    Herbivorous crocodyliforms.

    Very weird they put lips on all except Armadillosuchus.

    Alligators today eat fruit sometimes. There’s an article about this on Tetrapod Zoology somewhere, probably pictureless by now.

  124. Lars (the original one) says

    why elephants don’t get larger — so to summarize

    1) they would need to evolve lungs all over their body to help with respiration and cooling (like sauropods did)
    2) their heads are too large in order to have jaws for chewing their food, so they can’t have them on long necks out of the reach of predators — though ruminant giraffes do manage, and predators are smaller now, so maybe this one is surmountable
    3) if they did manage to get bigger, low numbers and the one offspring at a time strategy means they probably got wiped out by chance
    4) There’s a tradeoff between having a high metabolism so they can grow to adult size quick, and dying of heat stroke despite better lungs — the sauropods were probably able to lower the rate as they grew, mammals aren’t

    Also mentioned in passing, there are no T. Rex sized predators now because they probably needed lots of baby sauropods to feed on to survive at that size.

  125. David: really good link, thanks.

    I repeat my assertion that avian respiratory architecture is, no contest, the single coolest piece of biology I learned at university, and I can’t believe it isn’t taught at school.

    The range size is also a good point: the bigger the animal, the larger a continuous range the species needs. The African grasslands are big, but the world’s oceans are bigger! (Pangaea had broken up by the time the giant sauropods evolved)

    Hence why the sperm whale, a fifty-ton apex predator, can keep itself alive. It’s an apex predator that eats other predators, mainly squid and octopus. Imagine a fifty-ton land animal that subsisted mainly on lions.

  126. David Marjanović says

    1) The air sacs aren’t lungs; practically no respiration happens in them. They do seem to function in cooling. Their ability to fill in spandrels without adding any weight, unlike fat which does add a little, allows for making bones larger (giving them various mechanical advantages) without making them heavier. And their ability to add a lot of volume to the respiratory system allows for a very long windpipe; giraffes (and, including the nose, sperm whales) are close to a limit, indeed giraffes have narrower windpipes than you’d expect for their size so that more than the whole volume of the windpipe can get into the lungs and out.

    2) This is two issues. One is the larger you are, the more you need to eat, so the more time you need to spend chewing if you chew. You can do the math when it hits 24 h/day. The other is that in order to chew a lot, you need a big head, which makes it harder to have a long neck for reaching all that food. That’s why giraffes couldn’t grow much bigger. Somewhere around Paraceratherium (a giraffe-shaped rhino the weight of a very large elephant) the size limit probably comes within view.

    3) “[…] I think this messes with our heads to a certain degree when thinking about these questions, but treating offspring as Darwinian ammunition *does* work.”

    4) Still controversial

    lots of baby sauropods

    Over most of its range, T. rex didn’t have that, though there were plenty of elephant-sized and larger herbivores nonetheless.

  127. Lars (the original one) says

    The air sacs aren’t lungs — but there was something about cross currents and pneumatic neck vertebrae that I didn’t quite unpack, sort of the opposite strategy of the giraffe by not needing to exchange the whole air volume of the windpipe but mixing the oxygen farther and farther into the neck with consecutive breaths? Might work better with the low BMR thing, at a guess.

    The article also mentioned in passing that atmospheric oxygen was lower back then. A stray thought: could that make photosynthesis more efficient and plant biomass production larger so that herbivores had more to eat per square km? (Since oxygen is on the ‘right hand side’ of the water + carbon dioxide -> sugar + oxygen reaction, maybe it could be more efficient with less of the products around). I suppose it would need carbon dioxide to be the same or higher than now as well.

  128. John Cowan says

    I don’t get it.

    The conceit is that no warm-blooded animal weighing 30 kg with the capability of carrying an equal mass can get up the energy to fly without a system that depends on something faster than mere passive gas exchange. Even the through-and-through breathing system of birds can’t handle anything more than 15 kg or so, and that’s without freight. Pterosaurs apparently evolved much the same system using big balloon-like wings, but how anyone could believe after five minutes’ reflection that anything muscle-powered weighing 250 kg could take off and fly, as opposed to gliding down cliffs or something, is beyond me.

    if you don’t have enough carbon dioxide in your blood

    Life adapts to highly variable amounts, though. In the Cretaceous there was five times as much CO2 than today, and in the Devonian ten times; by contrast, less than half as much in the lowest depths of Quaternary glaciation. (Earth is still in an ice age.)

    On the world (or more properly the orthogonality) of Ghyll, the fastest form of freight is provided by tame horks, large but still flight-capable birds. But the maximum load of a hork is about 1 kg (compare carrier pigeons with a limit of 75 g), so TransAvian’s services are mostly used for extremely urgent documents, like Fedex in its early days. Hork flight probably looks lumbering, but they can sustain 80 km/hr, more than twice as fast as an unladen sparrow on Earth (though admittedly we know nothing about the composition of Ghyll’s atmosphere). Anything heavier than that, including passengers, has to go by pachyderm on one of the roads they themselves maintain (very fortunately): consequently, DermPachyges is if anything more successful than TransAvian, though the very different personalities of their CEOs has something to do with that.

  129. David Marjanović says

    something about cross currents and pneumatic neck vertebrae that I didn’t quite unpack, sort of the opposite strategy of the giraffe by not needing to exchange the whole air volume of the windpipe but mixing the oxygen farther and farther into the neck with consecutive breaths?

    The windpipe is dead space. With each breath, more than the windpipe’s volume has to pass into the lungs and out again, or no fresh air will come in at all.

    In mammals, the lungs expand and contract. In birds, crocodiles and others, the lungs don’t move much; instead, they have outgrowths (air sacs) where no respiration happens which do the expanding & contracting. (Well, some of them do, see below.) This way, the lungs can be very small, and they can be a lot more efficient because (due to the way the air sacs are arranged) the air passes through them in the same direction during in- and exhalation. Because of these two things, they can afford much more surface per volume, making them even more efficient; mammal lungs have to remain robust enough to withstand all that movement without sticking together.

    Some of the air sacs grow into all the spandrels in the body, including those in the bones. Obviously no movement happens here, but there’s still a cooling and a lightening function.

    atmospheric oxygen was lower back then

    In the Triassic and Early Jurassic, yes. Then it became higher than today.

    Elephant size was surpassed in the Triassic, IIRC, definitely in the Middle Jurassic; but the extremely gigantic sauropods are all Late Jurassic and Cretaceous so far.

    I suppose it would need carbon dioxide to be the same or higher than now as well.

    Carbon dioxide was apparently higher than today, sometimes much higher, throughout the Mesozoic.

    The conceit is that no warm-blooded animal weighing 30 kg with the capability of carrying an equal mass can get up the energy to fly without a system that depends on something faster than mere passive gas exchange.

    And what is that conceit based on?

    Just the masses of the heaviest extant flying birds? Because that would be silly. Check out Pelagornis and Argentavis.

    Pterosaurs apparently evolved much the same system using big balloon-like wings

    Balloon-like? Wings?

    how anyone could believe after five minutes’ reflection that anything muscle-powered weighing 250 kg could take off and fly, as opposed to gliding down cliffs or something, is beyond me.

    Believing is the wrong approach, of course. People have done the math – searching Google Scholar for pterosaur launch brings up more than I can link to (unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a single paper that explains it all). For the past 10 years it has been universally accepted that giraffe-sized pterosaurs weighing up to 250 kg could lift off from the ground very, very quickly and fly away with no more problems than a vampire bat.

    Birds jump off with one set of limbs, and fly with the other. Pterosaurs were quadrupedal; they had no trouble jumping off with their wings, which is already half a downstroke – do half an upstroke, spread your wings, and you’re gliding already.

    It used to be underappreciated that birds (and bats and insects to lesser extents) launch not by just starting to fly, but by jumping. Even hummingbirds get 80% of the acceleration they need for takeoff from jumping.

    YouTube: 1:11; 1:03:09 (talk including long question session).

  130. David Marjanović says

    Now that I’ve listened to the talk… a bit over 20 minutes in Habib says hummingbirds get down to about 50%, and it’s all other birds that are at 80–90. I’m sure I remember the numbers differently, but those, too, were from a secondary source, and I don’t have time today to look for the papers cited in the talk.

  131. John Cowan says

    Check out Pelagornis and Argentavis.

    I have, and thank you. But despite its tandem-albatross wingspan, P. sandersi was probably not much heavier (around 24 kg) than Ardeotis kori, today’s heaviest flying bird (18 kg). Argentavis magnificens was apparently three times heavier, but I notice that its mass drops every time it is re-estimated.

    Balloon-like? Wings?

    I don’t mean to say that it used (hydrogen) balloons for lift, something presumably confined to human beings and dragons, but simply that its wings apparently contained air sacs. (Hydrogen lift plus hypergolic enzymes in the spittle would account for dragons’ fire-breathing, no doubt.)

    with no more problems than a vampire bat

    Except for, like, being four orders of magnitude heavier, the mass range between an African elephant and a squirrel. Even sandersi is thought to have either run downhill or off cliffs.

  132. David Marjanović says

    today’s heaviest flying bird (18 kg)

    Gets to 22, and individual swans sometimes approach 30 while remaining able to fly.

    its wings apparently contained air sacs

    Ah, yes, but they just filled the space in the wing which had a more aerodynamic shape than found in bats. There’s not really a way to inflate most air sacs.

    four orders of magnitude

    Again, the math has been done. Five orders would not work; four does.

    Even sandersi is thought to have either run downhill or off cliffs.

    Because, as a bird, it must have been a hindlimb-powered launcher. Jumping off with its wings was not available to it.

  133. It’s never been Canadian Goose as this short article suggests. It’s never been changed to Canadian Goose as it suggests. And most Canadians who know proper English know that you can’t change a proper noun like Canada to Canadian when there are multiples of a proper noun. Also, no the bird cannot be called a North American Goose. You can’t just change names at whim because you have a website with your name on it. Most people making comments here are just going with what they’ve always used all their life and assumed it’s correct and aren’t willing to relearn. The word Canada as in the name of a bird – the Canada goose remains Canada regardless of how many of them there are. One Canada goose or many Canada geese. OR if you’re talking about lots of different kinds of geese in general from Canada, you can say Canadian geese. Learn the diff between noun, personal pronoun and proper noun and then you’ll understand what ornithologists, birders and linguists everywhere understand. They are the ones who know how to pronounce plurals of birds.

  134. Most people making comments here are just going with what they’ve always used all their life and assumed it’s correct and aren’t willing to relearn.

    That’s because “what they’ve always used all their life” is the English language, whereas your ideas about how the English language should be are just that, your personal ideas. Good luck trying to make everybody get in line behind you.

  135. Elizabeth Lucas says

    The Canada Goose was named after John Canada, the ornithologist and taxonomer who distinguished it from other species of geese.

  136. We’ve come across several theories about why English speakers generally prefer the term “Canada goose” to “Canadian goose.” The silliest one is that John Canada—described variously as an ornithologist, a taxonomist, or a taxidermist—named the bird for himself. We haven’t found a shred of evidence to confirm this or that such a person even existed.

  137. David Eddyshaw says

    It is generally accepted that “French leave” is so named after the British general of that name, notorious for his lackadaisical approach to proper military protocol in applying for furlough.

    “China syndrome” is a reference to Miéville’s novel, in which a nuclear meltdown precipitates worldwide inability to detect irony in internet postings.

  138. Lars Mathiesen says

    And the Welsh Illuminati were instituted in Vatican ffnord City by Cardinal Eddie Welsh. (As David (if that is his real name) will not be willing to confirm).

  139. David Eddyshaw says

    David (if that is his real name)

    My real name cannot be pronounced with your vocal apparatus.

  140. AJP Crown says

    The Canadian goose is a type of reindeer named after Mother Goose, the burly French Canadian who used to perform with Frank Zappa, largely because its call has a similar 5-octave range. The Canada goose is a different creature, and any real scientist would know this. Also, the first citation of ‘irony’ is from the NY Post, from an occasion in 1980 when the screen actor Jeremy Irons was ascending the staircase in the Flatiron Building in New York and noticed that the building’s frame was actually quite bulky and made of steel.

  141. I was taught from day one that it’s Canada Goose. I just googled it and this is the only site that even had Canadian Goose. They all had Canada Goose. I’ve heard it called Canadian Goose by Americans and illiterates (the same people who can’y tell “your” and “you’re” apart).

  142. Thank you for your learned and helpful contribution! It’s especially encouraging to hear from ducks on this topic.

  143. Lars Mathiesen says

    The phonetics of [dafnɔɹd] that can be realized are not the eternal phones. Also, tinc.

  144. John Cowan says

    Perhaps we’ll hear from Dux again, and then we’ll have a pair o’ Dux.

    The Royal Welch Fusiliers (or Fuzileers, as they are correctly spelled) were named for their fondness for the grape, which accounts for their prowess in the wars in France.

    ObHattic: can’y a novel abbreviation for canny, do the Hattics think, or is it in this case cannae? The former seems more likely on orthographical grounds, the latter on semantic grounds.

    ObMisc: Speaking of Scots, the Duke of Atholl, it seems, has the only legal private army in Europe: the Atholl Highlanders, sworn not to the Queen, her heirs and successors, but to the Duke and his. From 1839 to 1845, they were just a private bodyguard, but after they served as Victoria’s guard when she visited the Duke in Blair Castle in 1844, she presented them (by proxy) with colors, legalizing them as a regiment. They are now used for ceremonial purposes only; the 12th and current Duke was born and lives in South Africa and presumably does not need them as bodyguards, though he does visit them from time to time. They are armed with rifles and of course the pipes.

    This regiment is not to be confused with the Atholl Highlanders of the regular army, who were raised in 1777 to fight in North America but ended up spending most of their existence in Ireland. They were then ordered for India, but mutinied at the prospect and were sent to that doubtful city, Berwick. They were disbanded for good in 1783, when King George finally realized that “sometimes holding on to a thing just for the sake of holding on to it gets to be more trouble than it’s worth.” (Though he did hang on to Gibraltar on that occasion, maugre the Spaniard’s teeth; if not for Spanish intransigence for reconquista, the war might have been over a year earlier.)

  145. I can’t tell your and you’re apart, at least not by sound. I find them easy to tell apart when written, on account of their being spelled differently. But then I’m literate, or modestly so.

    John Canada was originally named John Mallard, but changed it after discovering the goose.

  146. My real name cannot be pronounced with your vocal apparatus.

    Wiktionary article says with some nasal mutation your real name can become Naffy…

  147. John Cowan says

    John Canada was originally named John Mallard

    Speaking of people named Mallard, a favorite clip from NCIS with Thai subtitles for lagniappe:

    Caitlin Todd: “Gibbs, what did Ducky [Dr. Donald Mallard] look like when he was younger?”

    Gibbs: “Ilya Kuryakin.”

    [Loud cackle from offscreen, possibly from Dr. Mallard.]

  148. AJP Crown says

    Pair o’ Dux and the Uncan’y – an essay in critical theory.

    Dux: I’ve heard it called Canadian Goose
    Canadian geese was a misprint for Canadian cheese, Canadian goose is a back-formation. The correct term is Canadian cheese, le fromage Canadien (le Canada produits plus de 1,049 variétés de fromage mais seulement trois variétés d’oie.)

  149. Until today I had never heard of a “Canada Goose”. Everyone in Wisconsin, USA calls them Canadian Geese.

  150. This being a long thread, I might be repeating something already mentioned.

    There are two competing uses of geographical names in English.

    The “normal” usage is to use adjectives. E.g., “American woman” (not “America woman”), “British customs” (not “Britain customs”).

    But specialised usages exist using just the noun. Think “India ink”. In the US, “California oranges / Florida oranges” (non-adjectival form) appears to have become the norm through some kind of branding exercise — not just oranges that happen to come from California or Florida, but oranges that are “branded” for those States.

    This is so successful that the original adjectival alternative, “Californian oranges / Floridan oranges”, probably sounds weird to Americans. But it doesn’t sound so weird if you don’t come from North America. In Australia, when Tasmania still grew apples, I’m pretty sure they were called “Tasmanian apples”, not “Tasmania apples”. (Produce from Queensland, on the other hand, can only be described as “Queensland” as there is no adjective “Queenslandian”.)

    This seems to be a somewhat related problem. “Canadian goose” is fine if you want to talk about geese that have come from Canada. But ornithologists have “branded” (as it were) one particular species of goose as the “Canada goose”. Ornithologists, and people who are familiar with this usage, are adamant that this should be the correct form.

    As I mentioned earlier, ornithological naming is a very specialised field, with lots of discussion and argument over what should be the “common name” in English. In all of this, ornithologists have totally lost sight of what a “common name” is — the name or names commonly used in the English language for familiar species. And, of course, the fact that there are no real “common names” for exotic or highly differentiated species (what ordinary speakers would distinguish between House Sparrows and Tree Sparrows, for instance?) leaves the field wide open for ornithologists to decide what the so-called “common names” are. In the end, the so-called common names have become highly specialised, narrowly exclusive English-language names that essentially run parallel to the Latin names. Thus the insistence by ornithologists that “Canada Goose” is the only appropriate name for them.

  151. In general it seems the “attributive noun” form (California oranges, Texas oil fields) is used for US states, while the adjectival form (Spanish peanuts, Chinese manufacturing) is used for countries. I don’t know what’s going on with Belgium waffle, maybe a mishearing that somehow spread. Strangely the newest two states might be exceptions (Hawaiian pineapple, Alaskan oil fields), being treated like countries, but maybe I’m fooling myself.

  152. David Marjanović says

    Produce from Queensland, on the other hand, can only be described as “Queensland” as there is no adjective “Queenslandian”.

    Yet another way in which Queensland is like Texas!

    (Texan exists but isn’t an adjective anymore, it means exclusively “person from Texas”, or so I hear.)

    “attributive noun”

    I’d just say “compound noun”. Or “noun compound”.

  153. PlasticPaddy says
  154. AJP Crown says

    In general it seems
    works for American states – perhaps because some don’t really have adjectives (Wisconsinian cheese? New Yorkist potatoes?) – but not for much more, I think:

    China Girl (Pop & Bowie) and China Syndrome (film)
    Chinese virus (Trump et al.) or Chinese restaurant

    India-rubber, not ‘Indian’ rubber
    India pale ale or Indian pale ale
    India ink or Indian ink
    are fine, whereas it’s
    Indian Ocean not ‘India’ Ocean, Indian summer not ‘India’ summer

    British Airways & Pan-American but Air France (Something-Française would be the preferred Fr. obv.) & Air New Zealand – in this case there’s no real alt. (‘New Zealander’ would be personal possessive, New Zealand’s?) except Kiwi Air

    Birdbath: what ordinary speakers would distinguish between House Sparrows and Tree Sparrows
    They might in Britain. I remember a Guardian article about House Sparrows dying out in the city but not Hedge Sparrows (or vice versa) and here‘s another old one about Hedge Sparrows being called Dunnocks oop north.

  155. PlasticPaddy says

    Re air france:

    La compagnie aérienne Air France est née de la fusion de quatre sociétés de transport aérien : Air Orient, Air Union, la Cidna et les lignes Farman, suite à un vote au parlement….

    C’est lors de la conférence de presse annonçant la fusion qu’a été trouvé le nom de la nouvelle compagnie, les journalistes ont été mis à contribution, et c’est la proposition de Georges Raffalovitch qui a été retenue : Air France. Quant au logo, c’est celui d’Air Orient qui a été conservé, à savoir, l’hippocampe ailé.

    So names with Air + noun were already common for French airlines and the logo was inherited from Air Orient. The journalist Georges Dreyfus-Raffalovitch was also an aviator and fighter pilot in WWI.

  156. David Eddyshaw says

    I think “China X” is “X pertaining to China” whereas “Chinese X” is “X pertaining to the Chinese people/culture.” Trump (a careful user of language in his pornographic way) of course intended a specifically racial slur: “China virus” wouldn’t convey the right message to his debased base.

  157. I don’t know what’s going on with Belgium waffle, maybe a mishearing that somehow spread.

    This is the first time I’ve encountered “Belgium waffle,” and when I google it I get “Did you mean: Belgian waffle” and a bunch of “Belgian waffle” sites. Are you sure “Belgium waffle” isn’t some idiosyncratic form you’ve run into?

  158. Also, Dux and Levi should get together and have it out. But not here.

  159. I didn’t mean to imply that “Belgium waffle” was the standard or predominant form. It’s just very common on restaurant menus in my experience (though they never seem to have France toast or England muffins).

  160. Ah, in that case, yes, probably a mishearing that got copied from menu to menu. (Cf. the mistranslations on Chinese menus.)

  161. I think “China X” is “X pertaining to China” whereas “Chinese X” is “X pertaining to the Chinese people/culture.”

    I thought so too at first but what about tea: China, Ceylon or Indian? It’s either even more nuanced or more chaotic, I don’t know which.

  162. David Eddyshaw says

    I think “China Tea” can be reasonably parsed as “pertaining to China” rather than “to Chinese culture”; but I agree with your implication that it’s a bit too easy to forcibly interpret any particular example to make it fit the supposed pattern.

    “China Girl” can of course be readily explained (away) by the observation that Mr Bowie was a poet (no Keats, maybe, but a bona fide poet even so.)

  163. Might as well give him a Nobel, then.

    /still bitter about the Zimmerman thing

  164. David Eddyshaw says

    Well, Keats didn’t get a Nobel prize, for some reason. Swedish mafia, if you ask me.

    (Reminds me of one of the questions I like to torment trainees with, to cement my Crusty Old Dinosaur reputation among them: “Who was the only ophthalmologist to date to win a Nobel Prize?” Nobody ever gets it.)

  165. It gets super complicated in the Wikipedia explanation:

    Paul Trynka, the author of David Bowie’s biography, Starman, explains the song was inspired by Iggy Pop’s infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a Vietnamese woman, as a metaphor for his Stooges career.[1]

    Production-wise the original recording that appeared on The Idiot [by Iggy Pop] is raw and unpolished compared to Bowie’s hit remake in 1983.[2]

    Nile Rodgers, the producer of David Bowie’s 1983 version of the song, offered his own interpretation of the lyrics: “I figured China Girl was about doing drugs … because China is China White which is heroin, girl is cocaine. I thought it was a song about speedballing. I thought, in the drug community in New York, coke is girl, and heroin is boy. So then I proceeded to do this arrangement which was ultra pop. Because I thought that, being David Bowie, he would appreciate the irony of doing something so pop about something so taboo. And what was really cool was that he said ‘I love that!’.”

    Gullstrand, Einstein, and the Nobel Prize is what I get by googling.

  166. David Eddyshaw says

    the only ophthalmologist to date to win a Nobel Prize

    Of course, it’s not difficult to find out in these Latter Days of the Intertubes:

    Gullstrand was evidently a right bastard (“strong personality”, in obit-speak.) He is the only individual to date to have both received and refused a Nobel Prize; he was personally responsible for denying Albert Einstein one (initially.)

  167. David Eddyshaw says


    That is illuminating, thanks … evidently I was too hasty in attributing the poesy to Mr Bowie.
    (Also, we are evidently posting in parallel. And why not?)

    Curiously, not many ophthalmologists know that Gullstrand invented the slit lamp, a bit of insanely useful kit that we now all use all the time. In the UK, his name instead immediately summons up Gullstrand’s Eye, a practically almost entirely useless mathematical model of the optics of the human eye which we were all severely traumatised by when we had to learnt about it for our postgraduate professional examinations.

  168. Sorry! It’s because I add new stuff during my 15 mins intended for correcting (saves internet space).

  169. David Eddyshaw says

    Me too: in these times of crisis it is more important than ever to save valuable electrons, I feel.

  170. AJP Crown says

    Two words: virtual ink.

  171. My wife worked for Virtual Ink.

  172. David Marjanović says

    Indian Ocean not ‘India’ Ocean, Indian summer not ‘India’ summer

    Indian summer isn’t named directly after India, though…

  173. AJP Crown says

    I suppose ‘American Indian’ would make sense if there were a place called American India. There used to be The West Indies, whose indians had been wiped out and most of whose citizens were African by descent (‘West Africa’ having been taken for, er, Africa). A lot Trinidadians have Indian ancestors, CLR James and Naipaul being the best known (to me) writers.

  174. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    How can this thread have reached 175 comments without any discussion of the Pekinese dog and the Pekin duck?

    Wikipedia makes a strict distinction between a Pekin duck and a Peking duck, but the OED doesn’t.

    The OED claims that a Pekinese can also be called a Pekin(g) spaniel. Or at least it could a century ago.

    @AJP Crown: friends tell me the West Indies still use to be, though they aren’t as good as they used to and haven’t won a world cup in decades.

  175. David Eddyshaw says

    ‘West Africa’ having been taken for, er, Africa

    The usage still intermittently strikes me as a bit weird, though it’s admittedly hard to come up with a sensible alternative (“Southern part of the bulge at the west” doesn’t strike me as viable, and “Guinea-along-with-the-Western-Sudan-and-Sahel” also seems to lack a certain something.)

    Not as weird as “Subsaharan”, though. That’s real Journey-to-the-Centre-of-the-Earth stuff.

  176. The usage still intermittently strikes me as a bit weird

    How come? Is it any different conceptually than North Africa and East Africa? (South, of course, has been appropriated by a country, but at least it’s appropriately located.)

  177. David Eddyshaw says

    Well, firstly because the term excludes all the equally Western bits of Africa north of the Sahara. It’s rather like using the term “West Coast America” to refer exclusively to Alaska. (Which, now I think of it, would be perfectly reasonable. As opposed to Midwest Coast California and Oregon, say.)

    Actually, once you take Hawaii into account …

  178. Well, firstly because the term excludes all the equally Western bits of Africa north of the Sahara.

    Those fall under North Africa, for obvious geographical reasons. I don’t know, I see your point but it seems pretty theoretical. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  179. And as a matter of fact the term “West Coast America” excludes Alaska in my usage; at least, I never think of Alaska when I talk about the West Coast, and I think that’s true of most people. Language is not logical.

  180. David Eddyshaw says

    I’m perfectly happy to go with the flow. I just reserve the right to boggle occasionally.

    “Subsaharan” is Just Plain Wrong, though. I draw the line at that.

  181. January First-of-May says

    It’s rather like using the term “Western America” to refer exclusively to Alaska. (Which, now I think of it, would be perfectly reasonable. As opposed to Midwestern California and Oregon, say.)

    Yeah, the geographic position of “West Africa” within Africa is actually much more like the position of Cascadia (or perhaps Oregon Territory) within North America than that of Alaska within the same.

    That said, it does make sense if you accept that “North Africa” is the more primary division. If we called the Maghreb “Northwest Africa” there wouldn’t have been any conceptual problems at all.

    Historically it had mostly been called Guinea, and apparently also Nigritia (or “Negroland”); the name Guinea is sadly taken by a country occupying only a small part of the region (though the old regional name did give us the Gulf of Guinea), and “Negroland” wouldn’t exactly work in modern times, but I suppose “Nigritia” does have some potential, especially if it was claimed to actually relate to the (river) Niger, which is a major feature of the region (rather than to any skin color).

  182. David Eddyshaw says

    I agree it’s a pity that the best names have been appropriated by single states. “Grand Mali” would have had a ring to it (though I suppose there’s a pretty insuperable problem in using it for the whole region in that it’s actually based on an ethnonym.)

    “Sudan” is of course “(Land of the) Blacks” etymologically, and “Guinea” probably is, too: unfortunately “Nigeria” is already taken, and anyway comes from the name of the river, which seems to resemble Latin “niger” only by chance, as you say. Mind you, to call all of West Africa “Land of the Niger River” would be no inappropriate or far-fetched description. That’s some river. (I have never forgotten looking out from a hill over its confluence with the Benue.)

  183. David Marjanović says

    Historically it had mostly been called Guinea

    Upper Guinea at that, still on the physical map in my school atlas from 1993. The west coast south of that, Congo and all, was Lower Guinea.

  184. AJP

    Ornithologically speaking, the Hedge Sparrow isn’t actually a sparrow (by which ornithologists mean members of the family Passeridae); it belongs to the accentors (“accentor” is an ornithologist’s coinage, by the way), which are placed in the family Prunellidae. That’s probably why ornithologists went with Dunnock as the “common name” instead of Hedge Sparrow — taxonomically cleaner.

    From this we can tell, though, that “common” usage actually lumps the Dunnock together with the Sparrows. As I said, the so-called “common names” aren’t necessarily the common names at all, because it’s ornithologists who decide what the common names are. The IOC’s attempt to come up with a single English-language “common name” for every bird in the world is just the latest episode in this saga.

    The ornithological fiction of “common names” leads to strange sentences like this (snatched from the Internet):

    The strange wading birds known as jacanas are nick-named “lily-trotters” for their ability to walk on lilypads. In Jamaica, they’re known as “Jesus birds,” because they appear to be walking on water — a feat made possible by their long toes.

    In fact, jacanas (more properly jaçanas) — the word is from a South American language — were given that “common name” by ornithologists. In truly English-speaking countries, the common name (not a “nickname”) is actually “lily trotter” (northern Australia) or “Jesus bird” (Jamaica).

    Such are the strange contortions produced by that freak of ornithology, the “common name”. Which brings us back to “Canada Goose”….

  185. Perhaps I was a bit too cavalier in my description of the common naming of the accentors — all but the Dunnock are given a common name using the name “accentor”. Wikipedia has this:

    The genus Prunella was introduced by the French ornithologist Louis Vieillot in 1816 with the dunnock (Prunella modularis) as the type species….

    Harrison used the group name dunnock for all of the species, not just Prunella modularis (thus e.g. Japanese dunnock for P. rubida); this usage is based on the oldest known name for any of the species (old English dun-, brown, + -ock, small: “little brown bird”). Accentor derives from the old scientific name for the Alpine accentor (Accentor collaris). It comes from Late Latin, meaning “sing with another” (ad + cantor). The genus name Prunella is from the German Braunelle, “dunnock”, a diminutive of braun, “brown”.

    This gives a pretty good idea of how names develop in ornithology.

  186. John Cowan says

    I suppose ‘American Indian’ would make sense if there were a place called American India.

    Until 1776, they were collectively Americans, and the rest of us were British or French or Spanish or what have you, no need for a collective name having yet been felt.


    I think that was put in place to refine the tendency of Americans to exclude the northern coast from Africa. Even now, someone born here of Egyptian parents will get a funny look if she calls herself African American.

    That’s real Journey-to-the-Centre-of-the-Earth stuff.

    My grandson is reading that now as part of his virtual-classroom homework and finding it boring. I told him to hang in there and it would get better. (Verne is very badly served by most of his translators, alas.)


    I don’t really understand why ornithologists bother with assigning “common” names at all. Prunella is no harder to learn than Dunnock.

  187. Prunella modularis is.

    Which is larger, the Struthio camelus or the Dromaius novaehollandiae?

    Duh, I don’t know.

  188. John Cowan says

    (I have never forgotten looking out from a hill over its confluence with the Benue.)

    Only somewhat upstream, no doubt, from the confluence with the Congo, which is why linguists talk confusingly of the Benue-Congo as well as the larger group (all of which rivers the Victorian Japanese placed erroneously in Asia).

  189. David Eddyshaw says

    I think the confluence with the Congo is sometimes referred to by the exotic (indeed, mythological) name of the Atlantic. I’ve seen that too … it was quite wide, and I could not discern the farther bank. There are said to be strange countries on the far side of that river, but I do not believe all these unlikely traveller’s tales.

  190. Lars Mathiesen says

    Also Turkey and Guinea fowl. Danish kalkun for the former is via Dutch from the name of the city Kozhikode (transmitted as Calicut).

    As the ODS says, it reflects a confusion between the East and West Indies, as does French dinde. I never though of Turkey as part of the East Indies, but there you go.

    (That was the turkish one. The Guinea in question is probably Renndaandi Ginea or more generally French West Africa as it was, though the family is Numididae).

  191. John Cowan says

    It occurs to me that the Japanese evidence would be equally well explained by the view that tigers were to be found in Africa. Since there is no way to tell, we had best employ Jape’s method: believe both.

    As for the strange countries, look at it this way: the wind-blown sand has to go somewhere, and the red-dye wood has to come from somewhere. If the settlers chose to call it the Island of the Mighty (or the Beautiful, or what not), more power to them. Of course, the true Island of the Mighty is rather further north off the western coast of the World Island, but that’s nomenclature for you.

    (Hmm. I seem to be channeling Avram Davidson these days.)

  192. January First-of-May says

    It occurs to me that the Japanese evidence would be equally well explained by the view that tigers were to be found in Africa.

    Meanwhile, on the opposite side of Eurasia, an 1854 painting by Eugene Delacroix depicted a Moroccan tiger hunt.

  193. John Cowan says

    “Jape’s method” was an error, though the phrase believing both does appear twice in the prose that surrounds Fr. Jape’s verses.

  194. Canada lynx

    “Canadian lynx” redirects here.

  195. I agree it’s a pity that the best names have been appropriated by single states. “Grand Mali” would have had a ring to it

    Perhaps this might be more de-appropriable than some other options. If Azawad or some variant thereof eventually goes its own way (I would predict this to be inevitable before the century is over), the remaining rump state might be also tempted or could be persuaded to give up the name “Mali” as well. Not that I have any idea what could come in its stead.

    Then again, we do currently have even a state named “Sudan” coexisting with “South Sudan”.

  196. We also have a Virginia and a West Virginia, which was already controversial in 1863 and has been troublesome ever since.

  197. John Cowan says

    The former county of Brabant is now divided into North Brabant in the Netherlands and Antwerp and Brabant in Belgium.

  198. There was, for a long time, a County of Burgundy and a separate Duchy of Burgundy, one a fief of France and one of the Holy Roman Empire. Sometimes they were in personal union, sometimes not, rather like the Two Sicilies. Over the years, there were various terminologies used to distinguish which Burgundy was which, although not, so far as I am aware, ever “East” and “West.”

  199. And of course North Macedonia, the former fYROM. (Apparently the lower case in “former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia” was significant, and intended to reflect the provisional nature of the name.)

  200. Also, there is Mongolia (former Outer one) and there is Inner Mongolia in China.

    And Serbia and Republika Srpska in Bosnia.

    Azerbaijan and Iranian Azerbaijan in Iran.

    Mexico and New Mexico in the United States.

    Moldova and Moldavia region in Romania. (apparently they call the latter Moldova Occidentală in Romanian)

    Papua New Guinea and Papua region in Indonesia.

    And finally, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the UK.

  201. January First-of-May says

    Russia happens to contain both the Altai Krai and the Altai Republic; nevertheless, the nearby(-ish) Altai Town, Altai City, and Altay City (as they are named on Wikipedia) are in fact located in three different countries, none of which are Russia.

  202. @SFReader: The case in Ireland is different from most others. The republic (the formal name in English being, technically, just “Ireland”) at the time of its creation actually laid claim to the whole island. The choice of the name was an affirmative assertion about what they considered the rightful boundaries of their territory to be.

    An analogous case occurs in Cyprus. The state of Cyprus claims sovereignty over the whole island but, de facto, has no control over North Cyprus, which operates as an independent Turkish protectorate. Now, maybe the government of North Cyprus would really like to control the whole island too, but for now they only assert sovereignty over the territory under ethnic Turkish control.

  203. Similarly, the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China agree (or did once; I don’t know about the current situation) on the extent of their territory, which is identical; they disagree (or did) only on who is the legitimate ruler.

  204. John Cowan says

    For a long time, the ROC still considered Mongolia to be within their boundaries, as the trouble with recognizing the facts on the ground, any of them, is that it would involve amending the ROC Constitution to actually define the borders of the ROC (the current version does not), which looks to Beijing like an independence move.

  205. Ah, saw that coming. Quirky nomenclature: hatnip as usual.

  206. January First-of-May says

    For a long time, the ROC still considered Mongolia to be within their boundaries

    Mongolia, Tuva, and a bunch of smaller not-really-Chinese parcels covering about a dozen modern countries. I’ve seen a map somewhere, but forgot where.

    I was actually under the impression that this was still the case; did they manage to fix it?

  207. They made several statements to this effect since 2002. But I haven’t yet seen a Taiwanese map of RoC without Mongolia in it.

  208. @Bathrobe: In fact, jacanas (more properly jaçanas) — the word is from a South American language — were given that “common name” by ornithologists.”

    Even more properly, jaçanã is standard Brazilian Portuguese (a Tupi loan like many other BP terms), although the word has many synonyms in the language – Wikipedia lists aguapeaçoca, cafezinho, casaca-de-couro, ferrão, japiaçó, japiaçoca, Tuchuruco, marrequinha, menininho-do-banhado, nhaçanã, nhançanã, nhanjaçanã, piaçó, piaçoca, pia-sol. “Leather coat,” “stinger,” “little she-duck” and “little boy of the marshes” are more or less clear, “cafezinho” is the national drink and coffee ritual so I’m not sure how it applies here, and “pia-sol” is literally “chirps-sun.” The rest must be borrowings from Tupí-Guaraní languages and some might actually mean “lily trotter” although I have my doubts about it.

    Jaçanã is also a neighborhood is São Paulo, famous thanks to Adoniran Barbosa’s samba Trem das onze. It’s one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard: a man tells his lover that he’s very much in love but can’t stay overnight because he absolutely needs to catch the 11 pm train back home to Jaçanã. His mom – he explains – won’t sleep until he comes back to her. “I am the only son,” proclaims the chorus. The soloist then adds self-importantly: “I have my house to look after.”

  209. Trem das Onze:

    The song is an example of both the classic paulista samba, the variant of samba developed in São Paulo, and the use of a composition structure known as “samba-de-breque” (literally brake samba), where the instrumental accompaniment stops suddenly, giving room to a brief commentary in spoken word about the lyric subject by the lead singer, very much like opening parenthesis.

    The song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 15th greatest Brazilian song.

  210. Betsy Landon says

    Check your Peterson guide: Canada Goose

  211. @ Betsy Landon

    Did you read any of the other comments?

  212. I’m sure the answer is “no”; she saw the question, thought the answer was obvious, and hastened to enlighten us.

  213. I had forgotten the endothermal-metabolism/evolution detour that took over this thread.

  214. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    No one seems to have mentioned Galileo in this thread. We don’t usually think of him in the context of biology, but he was probably the first to understand and try to analyse the principle of allometry. His illustration (greatly exaggerated) of bone sizes can be seen at

  215. Lars Mathiesen says

    @LH: That is not correct thinking. Since all things are always on topic in all threads the thread was never taken over, every other on-topic topic was just dormant for a while.

  216. Very true.

  217. Boston Gal living in the UK says

    In Boston, USA, we say Canadian geese. When referring to an individual of this species we would just call it a goose, because it is the only type of goose we ever see, but Canadian goose would be fine as well. They take up roost on the banks of the Charles, spawning hundreds of fuzzy green goslings each spring, and flock to our lakes and rivers all over New England year after year. I believe this post is correct that it would be just as accurate a name to call them North American geese considering how wide spread they are in the USA. Now that I reside in the UK, I have for the first time heard the bird referred to as a Canada goose. It sounds just as odd to me as Canadian goose sounds to some of you. Some of the other remarks in this thread trying to explain how wrong it is to say Canadian goose, are simply absurd. In response to the remark from DaninVan about going out to walk the Great Danish…. maybe you would instead like to walk your Great Denmark? Dane, after all, is more akin to the term Canadian than Canada. And in response to the ridiculous comment from J Calloway insinuating that the word Canadian is reserved only to describe people from Canada, I say that obviously the word Canadian can be used as an adjective to describe many items, such as bacon or even canoes (as I found out just this past weekend – what I would always just call a canoe is called a Canadian canoe in the UK.) By calling bacon Canadian, we are distinguishing it from streaky bacon common in the USA. Unlike what Calloway might have us believe, using Canadian as an adjective in this way, does not put us in jeopardy of confusing bacon with Canadian people! LOL. And no, I would not refer to a plate full of many pieces of Canadian bacon as the Canadians. Lastly, there are other examples of proper species’ names that use the adjective form of a place, rather than the noun form. I am thinking of the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. It is not the Hawaii Bobtail squid. To an unbiased ear, Canadian Goose or Canadian geese should be just as correct sounding as Canada Goose or Canada Geese. As is often the case, it seems to me that BOTH are correct. There is more than one way to name the goose, just as there is more than one way to skin it.

  218. Quite right!

  219. It wasn’t quite in Boston, but at a park about an hour away (still in southern New England), I did spy a completely different kind of goose. It was large and—like the stereotypical European goose—had pure white plumage. There was just the single individual, and it waddled along, following the medium-sized groups of Canada geese around the lawn and looking kind of lonely and sad.

    The geese I remember out in Oregon where I spent much of my childhood were neither white, nor the brown Canada geese, but mostly gray. I believe they were from the greater white-fronted goose species.

  220. According to noted wildlife authority Mark Trail, the bird is the Canada goose.

  221. Wondering what the hell happened to Mark Trail, I found this eloquent post, and I have to agree with the conclusion:

    If nothing else, I question the marketing strategy of springing a hip vibe — and very small print — on a strip that appeals almost entirely to senior citizens. Will young newspaper readers, if there are any left, really flock to cool Mark and Cherry? Will older ones adapt?

    I’m trying to keep an open mind. But I can’t help mourning the precious, stupid comic strip I’ve loved for decades.

    We’ll miss you, Square Mark. RIP.

  222. As a non-hip senior citizen, I am in two minds about the new Mark Trail. I rarely followed the old strip, except when it developed into ludicrous storylines, such as the one involving an endless series of explosions that occupied the comics page for what seemed like two solid weeks or more.

    So I approved, in general, of the move to bring Mark Trail into the 21st century, except now we have to contend with new and equally bizarre storylines. In a recent one, quite incomprehensible to me, Mark goes to LA to work out some sort of beef with a TikTok star, which somehow evolved into a multi-day car chase that ended in a farmers’ market.

  223. Oy.

  224. Mind you, I hadn’t followed the old strip since I was a kid, so I’m hardly the target audience; I can understand why they’d want to appeal to a hip new crowd, and they have no reason to give a damn what I think. But still I wince.

  225. John Cowan says

    I don’t know what Mexicans call [the Canadian River]: it was part of the international border [with the U.S.] from 1821 to 1848.

    Historically, it was variably the Rio Buenaventura, the R. Magdalena, and (in the upper part) the R. Colorado. Etymologies of the English name include canadiano < Caddo káyántinu ‘the Red River’, cañada ‘glen’, after its steep canyon in New Mexico, and finally plain English/French Canadian/en, after its use by fur traders trying to reach Santa Fe, N.M.

    Quoth WP: “Bénard de la Harpe explored between the mouth of the river and the Kiamichi Mountains [now in Oklahoma] in 1715. Pierre and Paul Mallet followed the entire length of the river in 1740, as did another expedition led by Fabry de La Bruyere in 1741.” Fur traders all.

  226. K A Gordon says

    I lived all over the US and originally from Long Island and we always have called it a Canadian Goose. After moving to Arizona I was corrected by my Canadian neighbors to NEVER say that again. It is a Canada Goose. They were actually offended by this. I hear everyone in Arizona call it canadian geese as well. I have Geese and no one knew what a canada goose was. I correct them and only say Canada Geese as well. A Canadian goose is any goose from Canada. A Canada Goose is the goose that you are referring to.

  227. Sigh. Once again, for those who came in late: the only gauge of “correctness” is how the majority of speakers talk. It doesn’t matter how offended your Canadian neighbors were; they are not the boss of the English language and they don’t get to dictate how anyone else speaks. They are welcome to say “Canada Geese” if they prefer, and you are welcome to join them if that pleases you, but you are not “correcting” people when you proselytize for that usage, you are just being obnoxious. Please stop.

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