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Burridge’s Multilingual Dictionary of Birds of the World

Outstanding Scholarship & a Vital Project

Burridge’s Multilingual Dictionary of Birds of the World By John T. Burridge

Volume I - Latin | Hardcover | Cambridge Scholars Publishing | 2008 | ISBN 9781847185150

Volume II - English | Hardcover | Cambridge Scholars Publishing | 2008 | ISBN 9781847185174Publisher View: Uniquely, the present work will present in one place the vernacular names of the almost ten thousand birds of the world in about fifty languages. It should thus serve as a valuable reference work and source of information that has been scattered through field guides, scientific journals, coffee-table volumes and across the internet, often buried under all sorts of other data.The compilations draw on official or other generally recognized authority wherever possible, and alternates are given where space permits. While the very fact that such extensive lists may, just by their existence, in future carry some authoritative weight in standardization of bird names, that is not its primary purpose, which is to present in a more useful format the nomenclature that is already in use.Author: John T. Burridge is a semi-retired (whatever that means) chemical engineer and technical writer, and has been a lifelong environmentalist and birder. His engineering mentality has made an obsession of his attempt to bring some semblance of order to the chaotic world of bird names. He received his undergraduate education in Canada, with degrees from Queens University and Concordia University, and did his graduate work at California State University with masters degrees in linguistics and German, including work at Kenyatta University in East Africa. A former resident of Germany, France and Switzerland, he presently birds on the northeast coast of North America and is looking forward to full retirement on the west coast of Mexico where he can pester a completely different set of birds.Fatbirder View: There is little to say about this work over and above the descriptions above. Already into many volumes spanning very many languages it is simply a vital work to begin to help the world’s ornithologists to agree on the names of birds and, therefore, an aid to the continuing taxonomic classification spurred by recent understandings. There is an ongoing project to bar-code bird DNA in order to see if ‘different’ birds in collections across the world my in fact be the same as another differently labeled elsewhere and its corollary, to show where the ‘same’ birds in different collections may, in fact, be separate species. Without some standardization across the board of names this is made so much harder. Many ornithologists, and many more birders are probably unaware that sometimes a bird in one country has exactly the same name as a different species in another and sometimes birds with different names are in fact the same species. There is only one way to resolve this, give each species a different number (with numbers related in taxonomic groups) and then publish ALL the names the bird is know by in different languages as well as the scientific name. The scholarship that this takes is mind-bendingly difficult!

Now the resource is there and will, I am sure be well used and lead to some agreements. The ONLY thing I would take issue with is to call one volume ‘Latin’ when, in truth, it is for the most part the Latinisation of names, More properly it should be called ‘Scientific’ as the roots used are sometimes Latin, sometimes Ancient Greek and often the Latinisation of proper names or characters in the myths of a number of different cultures.

I for one am pleased to have had these volumes drawn to my attention.


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