Is de Amerikaanse ‘blackbird’ een merel?

  • Door Koop Tissingh

(BrE) blackbird = merel (een solitaire vogel, geheel zwart gekleurd)
(AmE) blackbird = (o.a.) epaulettenspreeuw (vaak wordt de red-winged blackbird bedoeld, een groepsvogel)

Andere voorbeelden
Er bestaan meerdere voorbeelden van dieren- en plantennamen die in het Amerikaans-Engels een andere betekenis hebben dan in het Brits-Engels. De bekendste zijn waarschijnlijk corn (BrE: koren / AmE: maïs) en buffalo (BrE: buffel / AmE: bizon). Enkele andere voorbeelden zijn robin, lark, buzzard en elk (BrE: eland / AmE: wapitihert).

Ontstaan van deze verschillen
Deze verschillen zijn ontstaan doordat  de vroege Europese kolonisten tot dan toe onbekende dieren- en plantensoortenbestaande dieren- en plantennamen wilden benoemen. Daarvoor gebruikten ze dan de namen van dieren of planten  die op de een of andere manier leken op soorten uit de ‘oude wereld’.

Vertalers van Amerikaanse boeken kunnen makkelijk de fout in gaan:
“I seen the blackbirds a-settin’ on the wires”, said Pa. > Ik zag de merels op de telegraafdraden zitten”, zei vader. (De Druiven der Gramschap, hfdst 22, vertaald door Alice Snijder, uitgeverij L.J. Veen Klassiek)
The red-wing blackbirds massed their squadrons and practiced at maneuvering in the fields. > “De roodgevleugelde merels vormden hun esquadrons en oefenden in het manoeuvreren boven de velden.” (Aan een Onbekende God, hfdst 8, vertaald door E.D. Veltman-Boissevain)

Zie notes


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