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Language question: waterbirds or water birds

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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 14:33   #1
Gonçalo Elias
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Language question: waterbirds or water birds

Hi all,

I am not sure if this is the right forum to ask this, if not please redirect me.

My question is this: in British English, what is the correct way to write when the subject is aquatic birds:

water birds (two words)
OR
waterbirds (a single word)

For example: at lake X, it is possible to see many wintering waterbirds / water birds

Thanks in advance for any help.
Gonçalo
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 14:48   #2
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waterfowl
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 14:51   #3
Xenospiza
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I would prefer "waterbirds" (just as in seabirds, shorebirds). The RSPB and BTO use this too.

Waterfowl feels more like a hunting term for ducks.
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 14:51   #4
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Waterbirds and wildfowl. The former encompasses wildfowl, crakes, rails and I would have thought herons etc, others may have their own opinions. Wildfowl is limited to ducks, geese and swans.

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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 15:35   #5
Gonçalo Elias
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Thanks all for the opinions.
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 18:40   #6
MJB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenospiza View Post
I would prefer "waterbirds" (just as in seabirds, shorebirds). The RSPB and BTO use this too.

Waterfowl feels more like a hunting term for ducks.
...and 'waterbird' is in the acroynym 'AEWA'... (The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement) and has been since the early 1990s at least.
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 19:09   #7
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[QUOTE. Wildfowl is limited to ducks, geese and swans.John[/quote]

Yes, Waterfowl includes only ducks, geese and swans. If you want to include other birds then use Waterbirds.
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Old Monday 30th March 2020, 20:31   #8
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by MJB View Post
...and 'waterbird' is in the acroynym 'AEWA'... (The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement) and has been since the early 1990s at least.
MJB
Does that have a definition of waterbirds?

Cheers

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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 09:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonçalo Elias View Post
Hi all,

I am not sure if this is the right forum to ask this, if not please redirect me.

My question is this: in British English, what is the correct way to write when the subject is aquatic birds:

water birds (two words)
OR
waterbirds (a single word)

For example: at lake X, it is possible to see many wintering waterbirds / water birds

Thanks in advance for any help.
Gonçalo
Hope this doesn't confuse you, but I'd say, yes, I agree with most on this thread - "waterbird" - but also suggest that "water birds" is not wrong.
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 12:17   #10
MJB
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
Does that have a definition of waterbirds?

Cheers

John
AEWA species list is at https://www.unep-aewa.org/en/species
MJB
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 13:35   #11
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Hope this doesn't confuse you, but I'd say, yes, I agree with most on this thread - "waterbird" - but also suggest that "water birds" is not wrong.
Thanks Dave. No problem, I am not confused, actually I have found both options in many texts so from the beginning I felt that both were correct. My question was more about which of them is preferable.

Regards,
Gonçalo
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 14:39   #12
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Waterbirds over water birds imo. It's kind of entered into the english language as a real term so better to use it?

(But then it is land mammals not landmammals still ...)
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 16:08   #13
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As an other not-English-native-speaker, I think English isn't always logical. (And it maybe so with Finnish too - but lets not talk about that now)
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 16:37   #14
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Originally Posted by Warixenjalka View Post
As an other not-English-native-speaker, I think English isn't always logical.
True. But who said it had to be? Anyway, what language is? Show me a language with no "irregular verbs"....

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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 17:25   #15
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"water birds" sounds more like instructions given to a gardener ....
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 18:04   #16
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"water birds" sounds more like instructions given to a gardener ....
Disambiguation—“water the birds”.
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Old Tuesday 31st March 2020, 19:13   #17
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"water birds" isn't specific enough.

For example you can go to see some woodland birds, some moorland birds or some mountain birds. You wouldn't go to see some water birds, but you might go to see some lakeside birds or estuary birds.
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 14:11   #18
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Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
"water birds" isn't specific enough.

For example you can go to see some woodland birds, some moorland birds or some mountain birds. You wouldn't go to see some water birds, but you might go to see some lakeside birds or estuary birds.
AEWA (see my post above) is quite specific about their long-established term 'waterbird(s)' means:

"AEWA covers 255 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including many species of divers, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, storks, rails, ibises, spoonbills, flamingos, ducks, swans, geese, cranes, waders, gulls, terns, tropic birds, auks, frigate birds and even the south African penguin." AEWA then lists all 255.

So yes, you would go to see waterbirds... (tongue firmly in cheek)
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 15:25   #19
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True. But who said it had to be? Anyway, what language is? Show me a language with no "irregular verbs"....
Farnboro John

Hey, John, please mind your linguistic remarks (:^). Afrikaans, the beautiful language of South Africa, which developed parallelously to our own Dutch - and which some of my compatriots still qualify as "such a funny speech" - has dropped all irregular verbs which the Dutch language still contains. There is even no imperfect past tense, as in "I was, I did, he came", in Dutch :"ik was, ik deed, hij kwam"; such phrases have turned into "ek het gewees" (Dutch: ik ben geweest), "ek het gedoen" (Dutch: doen, gedaan = to do, done), hy het gekom (Dutch: hij is gekomen).
By the way, the linguistic development did not take away all irregularities, example: in Dutch we have "nacht, nachten" (night, nights), in Afrikaans: nag, plural: nagte, and Dutch: "dag, dagen" (day, days) became: dag, daë, so South African children have to learn such things which are not logical for them. . .
Cheers, just a side-track (side track?) from a language freak, Jan (= John) van der Brugge
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 15:46   #20
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Originally Posted by MJB View Post
AEWA (see my post above) is quite specific about their long-established term 'waterbird(s)' means:

"AEWA covers 255 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including many species of divers, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, storks, rails, ibises, spoonbills, flamingos, ducks, swans, geese, cranes, waders, gulls, terns, tropic birds, auks, frigate birds and even the south African penguin." AEWA then lists all 255.

So yes, you would go to see waterbirds... (tongue firmly in cheek)
MJB
In which connection, "shorebirds": a term for waders that still hasn't really caught on.....

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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 16:58   #21
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Agree with the majority here, 'waterbird' is the correct term to use in an ornithological context.

The problem is no-one has told Microsoft or Apple - just tried typing it on my iPhone and it autocorrects to 'water birds'; on Word I get a red underline denoting typographical error. So I can understand how anyone who is relying on spellcheck functions may get confused by this.

See also 'watercourse'...
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 17:23   #22
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
In which connection, "shorebirds": a term for waders that still hasn't really caught on.....

John
It's what they're called by Americans - they use 'waders' for things like herons
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 18:28   #23
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Waterbirds over water birds imo. It's kind of entered into the english language as a real term so better to use it?

(But then it is land mammals not landmammals still ...)
That's true. The same for "land birds".
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Old Wednesday 1st April 2020, 18:51   #24
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It's what they're called by Americans - they use 'waders' for things like herons
Wot - waterbirds?

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Old Thursday 2nd April 2020, 07:11   #25
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Originally Posted by janvanderbrugge View Post
Quote:
True. But who said it had to be? Anyway, what language is? Show me a language with no "irregular verbs"....
Farnboro John

Hey, John, please mind your linguistic remarks (:^). Afrikaans, the beautiful language of South Africa, which developed parallelously to our own Dutch - and which some of my compatriots still qualify as "such a funny speech" - has dropped all irregular verbs which the Dutch language still contains. There is even no imperfect past tense, as in "I was, I did, he came", in Dutch :"ik was, ik deed, hij kwam"; such phrases have turned into "ek het gewees" (Dutch: ik ben geweest), "ek het gedoen" (Dutch: doen, gedaan = to do, done), hy het gekom (Dutch: hij is gekomen).
By the way, the linguistic development did not take away all irregularities, example: in Dutch we have "nacht, nachten" (night, nights), in Afrikaans: nag, plural: nagte, and Dutch: "dag, dagen" (day, days) became: dag, daë, so South African children have to learn such things which are not logical for them. . .
Cheers, just a side-track (side track?) from a language freak, Jan (= John) van der Brugge
Very interesting. To Dutch ears, then, Afrikaans must sound like baby talk. That certainly would be the case in the English speaking world where young children typically pass through a stage where they “regularize” irregular verbs—“thinked” for ‘thought”, “goed” for “went”, etc., etc.

Last edited by fugl : Thursday 2nd April 2020 at 16:59.
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