Monday, January 22, 2007

Animals That Are Also Verbs

I love this stuff. Seton is quoted in the full article.

This is just for fun — a bit like the puzzles I regularly post, but more open-ended.
I was walking over the bridge over the river Cam one day when it hit me: the verb ‘duck’ is related to the noun ‘duck’! Ducks hunt for food by ducking under the water! It shocked me that I’d never noticed the relation between these two words before. I wondered which came first: the animal or the verb. Did people call these birds ‘ducks’ because they duck under the water, or did they invent the verb ‘duck’ after watching what ducks do?
More generally: which other names of animals are also verbs?

Find it all here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Woodland Walk

This essay contains the following memory of reading Wild Animals I Have Known as a child... (from

Moving along the woodland path, I see a rotted tree stump. It is in the final stages of decay, provid ing a winter home for a hibernating ground hog and countless insect residents. That old stump once supported a huge Norway Maple. I recall Joyce Kilmer's classic poem as I pass by:

A tree that may in summer wear, a nest of robins in her hair ...

And indeed it did. I remember the boy who climbed up to its farthest limits, and in his curiosity, caused the limb to spill out four blue eggs. I remember how pangs of conscience pained him for his terrible deed; albeit an accident.

That old stump once supported the tree I used to sit under as I read "Wild Animals I Have Known" and many of the other wonderful wildlife stories of Ernest Thompson Seton.

Read it all at