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"Scrabbler" and "Farallones"

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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 13:17   #1
pietrod
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"Scrabbler" and "Farallones"

Hi all,
I know it is not strictly etymology,
but i could not find a section that fits better (if there is please move:))


A friend of a friend, a writer, is currently translating some texts /poetry /literature from English to Norwegian. The texts have many references to nature and birds, and my friend has therefore asked me if I could help him with the translation of some of the bird names. However, the original text is far from scientific and it seems like some of the bird names are more "nick names" or slang. I was wondering if anyone knows any bird or groups of birds that are called "Scrabbler" and "Farallones". The birds should be from north-western USA, possibly coastal area, and if it interests the author is Gary Snyder.


Any ideas what the author was reffering to?

Thanks for any reply!

have a nice day
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 14:35   #2
Calalp
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Pietrod, don't worry of "… a section that fits better" Im pretty sure we can solve this for you and your translating friend. In a way it is etymology! And its fun with something a bit odd.

Snyders "Farallones" is either some kind of Seabird (havfugl in Norwegian) from Farallones (Farallon) Islands (or Gulf of ditto) or (more likely?) the Islands themselves … from the Spanish faralln meaning "pillar" or "sea cliff", however Snyder's ["Broody"] "Scrabblers" is harder (at least for me) to understand?

Any of our US friends, with better field experience of the North-western US Costal fauna (and interest in Beatnik poetry), know?

Bjrn

PS. If you post the full poems (or at least those particular sentences) I guess it would be far easier to interpret! So we know the exact '... "nick names" or slang' were dealing with.
x

Last edited by Calalp : Tuesday 10th March 2015 at 15:58. Reason: typo
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 15:19   #3
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Think the Fallarones are the actual islands in this case, not a bird-

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...20bird&f=false

Scrabblers (broody scrabblers pick up bits of string) perhaps refers to domestic chickens? (eg scrabbling in the dirt).

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...20bird&f=false
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 15:37   #4
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[quote=dantheman;3182513]Think the Fallarones are the actual islands in this case, not a bird-

Scrabblers (broody scrabblers pick up bits of string) perhaps refers to domestic chickens? (eg scrabbling in the dirt).

QUOTE]

agree re: Farallones being the name of the islands,
but reading the poem, broody scrabblers seemingly refers to some sort of migratory bird (collecting nesting material?) as the big abstraction at their door referred to is surely bird migration itself??

James
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 15:53   #5
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I am not sure which species of shearwater Puffinus breeds on the Farallones, but suspect that "scrabblers" may be shearwaters. None of my US bird dictionaries refer to the name, but in Lockwood (1984), The Oxford Book of British Bird Names, p. 135, I find "scraber", a Hebridean name for a shearwater, from the Gaelic sgrabair, referring to the tough skin of the adult Manx Shearwater (contra the very edible young!)
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 16:43   #6
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Crumbs! It's a long time since I did poetry appreciation at school, but think I'll still stick with domestic fowl in this case myself (not saying I'm right though!) - apparently (the writer of the piece linked) refers to roosters in the valley earlier in the poem, and reference to 'at our door' could be that he is seeing evidence of breeding (ok not migration as such, but the hormonal influences of such which are a big cause of migration) behaviour in his local chickens, as a counterpoint to the Arctic Terns etc mentioned.

Broody scrabblers is a spot on description of chickens of course.

Not sure if he would have known of 'scrabers' or would he? Perhaps it's a further word play, but my gut feeling is not ...

?!
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 18:17   #7
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The meaning of "Broody scrabblers" seems quite plain to me.

"Yesterday I read _Migration of Birds_ ... Today that big abstraction's at our door."

In other words, birds have migrated into the neighborhood.

"Broody scrabblers pick up bits of string"

i.e., Birds, preparing to lay their eggs ("broody"), scratch in the ground ("scrabble") for nesting material. No particular breed of bird is intended, though we can assume we are dealing with migratory songbirds.

(And not "seabirds"; those [maybe referring to plovers and terns] are still heading north to Alaska and will not nest for another six weeks, according to the text.)


Agree that "eggs of the Farallones" refers to the island location, or possibly the larger Gulf. The main island once held a light-house and a research station, so it may have had a harbor at one time; perhaps it was a Mulberry Harbor (i.e., a harbor built from pre-fabricated jetties, named for their code-name during the Normandy invasion). (Edit: the light-house and a few other structures are still there. Tracing the roads in aerial photos, it appears the main dock was on the north side of the island. There's a little inlet there, but it doesn't look like a built harbor. I'm now thinking the "Mulberry Harbor" was elsewhere in the San Francsico area, and the seabird eggs, brought by boat from the Farallones, were sold there.)
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 18:23   #8
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http://www.fws.gov/refuge/farallon/ contains lots of information about that area, including
Quote:
Twenty-five percent of breeding seabird populations in California occur on the Farallon islands. Thirteen species nest on the islands including Leach's Storm-petrel; Ashy Storm-petrel; Fork-tailed Storm-petrel; Double-crested Cormorant; Brandt's Cormorant; Pelagic Cormorant; Black Oystercatcher; Western Gull; Common Murre; Pigeon Guillemot; Cassin's Auklet; Rhinocerous Auklet; and Tufted Puffin.
Several of those are probably nesting in the ground, so why think about songbirds that often nest elevated in plants?

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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 18:45   #9
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Niels, because I have no reason to believe the two references are even from the same poem :)

Besides, "at our door" is known to refer to Mill Valley, not the Farallones.
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 19:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
The meaning of "Broody scrabblers" seems quite plain to me.

"Yesterday I read _Migration of Birds_ ... Today that big abstraction's at our door."

In other words, birds have migrated into the neighborhood.

"Broody scrabblers pick up bits of string"

i.e., Birds, preparing to lay their eggs ("broody"), scratch in the ground ("scrabble") for nesting material. No particular breed of bird is intended, though we can assume we are dealing with migratory songbirds.
Can buy that - not chickens (which are down the valley) but the birds by his own door - either migratory or quite possibly the sparrows earlier referred to (in which case either migratory, or he's assigning migratory tendencies to them, or just being 'lazy' in his lumping). Sparrows scrabbling in the dirt sounds good to me, and not particularly indicitive of any other migrant songbird.

Two different poems, yep - 'Migration of Birds' and another one...
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 20:00   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
Niels, because I have no reason to believe the two references are even from the same poem :)

Besides, "at our door" is known to refer to Mill Valley, not the Farallones.
I missed that

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Old Wednesday 11th March 2015, 07:36   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
Scrabblers (broody scrabblers pick up bits of string) perhaps refers to domestic chickens? (eg scrabbling in the dirt).

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...20bird&f=false
It probably won't change much of what was written above about the meaning of scrabblers but, in the excerpt from the poem printed in this book, a line appears to be missing--saying that juncos and robins are gone, between the big abstraction being at their door and the broody scrabblers picking up bits of string. Complete text [here].
Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
or quite possibly the sparrows earlier referred to (in which case either migratory, or he's assigning migratory tendencies to them, or just being 'lazy' in his lumping).
Or he's just associating what he's seeing with migration time--when, in his yard, juncos and robins are gone, and other birds behave like they intend to start breeding (collecting bits of strings to build their nests), is the time when "the Golden Plover and the Arctic Tern" (which he doesn't see, they are across the hill) race north along the coast.

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