Head in the sand

January 14, 2007
  • Mew’s And the Glass Handed Kites is one of my favorite albums from 2005, and due to its long-delayed American release, it’s one of my favorite albums from 2006 as well.
  • One song, “The Zookeeper’s Boy”, has the word ‘ostrich’ in the lyrics, but it’s pronounced as three syllables: ‘os-ter-rich’.
  • To me, that sounds an awful lot like Österreich. I wonder if there’s any relation there?
  • Well, I know that ost- can mean ‘bone’ or the like, as in osteoporosis; and that öst- can mean ‘east’, as in Austria. I wonder what the etymology of ‘ostrich’ is.
  • Apparently I was wrong on both guesses: ostrich c.1225, from O.Fr. ostruce (Fr. autruche), from V.L. avis struthio, from L. avis “bird” (from PIE *awi- “bird”) + L.L. struthio “ostrich,” from Gk. strouthion “ostrich,” from strouthos melage “big sparrow.”
  • Incidentally, Austria shouldn’t be confused with austr-, meaning ‘south’, as in Austral, the opposite of Boreal.
  • Interesting that Boreas, the Greek north wind, is the root of one word, and that Auster, the Roman south wind, is the root of the other. Is consistency in wind use too much to ask for?
  • Of course, astr- (astral, astronomy, etc.) is yet another completely different root. Damn you, Greeks.

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