Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who was Sabine, and how did he pronounce his name?

You get discussions from time to time as to where certain words in bird names came from and how they should be pronounced. Two currently under discussion are chukar and sabine's.

Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names
Onomatopaeic Hindi name chukor for the Chukar Partridge Alectorix
Chambers gives variant spellings and pronunciation  chu-kör' or chu-kär' (chu-CORE or chu-CAR). Most of us pronounce chukar to rhyme with pukka, but apparently we should be putting the stress on the second syllable. It seems to me a bit like that pretentious TV character, Mrs Bucket, who insisted that her name be pronounced "bouquet" in the French manner.

Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names
1 Joseph Sabine (1770-1837) English zoologist (Rhaphidura)
2 General Sir Edward Sabine (1788-1883) English scientist and explorer (Dryoscopus, Xema)

Chambers gives the following pronunciations of sabine

Sabine /sab' īn/ a member of an ancient people etc ("SAB-ine)
Sabine's Gull /sa-bēnz'/ a small gull etc (sa-BEENZ)

Most of us pronounce Sabine's (the gull) as SAY-bines, and I doubt if most of us will change.
After all, you need to remember that Chambers was originally produced by two Scottish ladies.

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