Svengelska bloggen

Svengelska bloggen

Om bloggen/About the Blog

I aim to use this blog to keep up my English and maybe give others some insights in Swedish language. It's not a diary - well not quite...


Fåglar/BirdsPosted by Gunvor 2012-04-14 21:44:24

Bergfink, fringilla montifringilla, is ’brambling’.

This male brambling was passing through here a couple of days ago from his winter holidays in Central or Southern Europe to his breeding place somewhere in the North. In the photo he is enjoying some sunflower seeds together with his relatives, bofinkar, ‘chaffinches’ and a smaller bird, grönsiska, ‘siskin’.

Bergfink, and the Latin species name montifringilla both mean literally ‘mountain finch’.

Berg is ‘mountain’ or ‘rock’, related to e.g. Danish bjerg and German Berg. It is a common Germanic word *bergaz from an Indoeuropean root *bheregh- 'high', 'elevated'. The Modern English version is barrow, ‘burial mound’. English ice-berg is borrowed from Dutch.

Fink is is borrowed from Low German vinke, same as German Fink and English Finch, Germanic *finkiz, *finkjon, probably originally onomatopoetic.

I didn’t find much about brambling, but probably it is derived from brambles, the prickly bushes where the bird might carry on in Wintertime in Britain.


Fåglar/BirdsPosted by Gunvor 2012-04-10 00:48:49

Rödhake, Erithacus rubecula, is ’robin’. I thought rödhake was simple to explain: röd is ‘red’ and haka is ‘chin’, but Hellquist thinks differently in Svensk etymologisk ordbok: haka ‘chin’ is closely related to hake ‘hook’ but there was another word hake, now only used in mässhake ‘chasuble’, from Old Swedish hakul ‘cloak’, with relatives in Old High German and Anglo-Saxon, of obscure origin but possibly originally meaning ‘animal skin’. Hekla, the Icelandic volcano is supposed to be a dervative of this.

Robin is short for Robin Redbreast, the personal name Robin being a diminutive of Robert.

The robin arrived here about a week ago, probably having spent the winter in Western Europe, showing off in a holly bush on an English Christmas card . In Sweden this role is occupied by a bullfinch on a Norway spruce.


Fåglar/BirdsPosted by Gunvor 2012-02-08 18:53:10

Strömstare, Cinclus cinclus - is 'dipper'. Ström and English stream and variants of the same word in all Germanic languages I know of comes from Germanic *straumaz ‘current, river’, from the Indoeuropean root *sreu- ‘to flow’, from which also comes Greek rhythmos ‘rhythm (of the waves). And stare and English starling, and German Star come from Germanic *star, from an Indoeuropean stem *storo-, from which also comes Latin sturnus, all with the meaning ‘starling'.

The English name, dipper, is very characteristic, the way he sits curtsying close to the water and dives into the stream. He is Norway’s national bird; there he is called fossekall (foss is ‘waterfall’ and kall is ‘bloke’ (I believe)).

Dipper also means ‘ladle’ and ‘baptist’, and in America the Big Dipper is the star constellation Ursa major, in Swedish Karlavagnen.

The English verb dip comes from Germanic *duppjan, from which also comes Swedish döpa – ‘to baptise’ and doppa – ‘to dip’.

I made a blog entry about this bird last February too, but this time I got closer:


Fåglar/BirdsPosted by Gunvor 2011-10-11 10:59:55

Koltrast is ‘blackbird’. Kol is coal, a common Germanic word. Trast is thrush, going all the way back to an Indoeuropean root *trozdo- from which also stems Latin turdus, with the same meaning. In the early hours of a spring morning ten thousand years ago our ancestors listened to the same song.

This time of the year they don’t sing, they do as everybody, try to fatten up as soon as possible before winter comes.

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