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Saturday 12 November 2016

Saturday Rave: the gift of names.

November 12th was a good day for Natural Historians, and Natural Historians are simply terrific for words.

How so?

Well, that without Mr Fuchs we wouldn't have the gorgeously sultry word fuchsia (and it would be much, much harder to spell, too); and without Sir Joseph Banks we wouldn't have the pleasure of the sprightly banksia flower.

Just think how much poorer would the world would be without Grévy's zebra (yes, you do say that gravy) or the voluptuous Przewalski's horse.

November 12 saw the births of three scientists who all gave their names to new life forms, and I dedicate this post to them and to all scientists who, in being so honoured, have enlarged the vocabularies of the world.

November 12 1729 saw the birth of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who of course gave us bougainvillea:

Bougainvillea Flower.jpg
Bougainvillea spectabilis

November 12 1793 ushered in Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz (I realise that my theory about easy spelling entirely falls down, here) who gave us the various varieties of eschscholzia:

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

 and 1896 gave us Salim Ali, the ornithologist and the owner of, thank heavens, a lovely short name, which has been given to a Salim Ali's swift. (Salim Ali also has a bat and Himalayan Forest Thrush: 

Himalayan Forest Thrush or Zoothera salimalii.jpg
Himalayan Forest Thrush, Zoothera salimalii

named after him).

I am grateful, in a way, that Johann Friedrich Eschscholzia's efforts mean that there is now an English word containing the consonant string schsch.

But I can't help hoping that the next great discovery is made by someone called Smith. Or Hobbs. Or Brown...

Word To Use Today: eschscholzia...or Californian poppy, I suppose, if you're a wimp. A Fuchs, by the way, is the German for fox.

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