This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The 2nd Day of Christmas: The Song of Solomon: a rave.

The flowers appeare on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

That gorgeous evocation of Spring* is from The Song of Solomon (2-12 if you're counting).

Now, the thing any sane person will be wondering is, what does a turtle's voice sound like?

Well, in moments of great excitement, as when apparently trying to play leapfrog, it sounds like this:

The next thing any sane person will be asking is, why would anyone want to write poetic stuff about that strained wheezing?
Well, I think it's probably because it wasn't actually the voice of turtles that Solomon heard in the land, but the voice of turtle doves (Shakespeare's poem The Phoenix and the Turtle is about a turtle dove, so calling the birds turtles was established practice at around the time of the translation of The Song of Solomon).
But why is it called a turtle dove?
Look at the pattern of feathers on their backs. It does look a bit like a turtle shell, doesn't it:
European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur).jpg
Okay, So what does the voice of a turtle dove sound like?
It sounds like this (you have to wait a bit to hear the bubbling call):
So on the whole, and taking everything into consideration, I really think that Solomon was writing about the song of the doves.
Don't you?
Word To Use Today: turtle. This word comes from the French tortue, tortoise, but has been changed a bit because of the influence of the German Turteltaube, turtledove.
*I realise it's not Spring anywhere on Earth at the moment, but the migratory turtle dove doesn't do winter.

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