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Acrocephalus etymology (1 Viewer)

crs

Well-known member
Today I have got a copy of Latin for Bird Lovers by Roger Lederer & Carol Burr, Timber Press, Portland London.

I looked for Acrocephalus and, at page 17, I found:

“Acrocephalus Acro, acrobatic and cephala, head, as in Acrocephalus agricola, the Paddyfield Warbler”

Looking for the same name in The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Names, James A. Jobling, Christopher Helm, London, at page 30, I found:

“Acrocephalus Gr. Akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head;…”

Which is the correct/accepted etymology of Acrocephalus ?

Cristian
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Today I have got a copy of Latin for Bird Lovers by Roger Lederer & Carol Burr, Timber Press, Portland London.

I looked for Acrocephalus and, at page 17, I found:

“Acrocephalus Acro, acrobatic and cephala, head, as in Acrocephalus agricola, the Paddyfield Warbler”

Looking for the same name in The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Names, James A. Jobling, Christopher Helm, London, at page 30, I found:

“Acrocephalus Gr. Akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head;…”

Which is the correct/accepted etymology of Acrocephalus ?

Cristian

Jobling I think since "acrobat" evidently comes to English via the French "acrobate" which originates from the Greek akrobat: akros, high & bat- (bainein) to walk. However, an earlier manifestation of Jobling's work published by Oxford siggests 'akros' also has the meaning 'pointed' which would be a better fit.
 

crs

Well-known member
Thank you Richard for your answer.
Thank you John for the answer. Please note that the whole quote from James A. Jobling is:
“Acrocephalus Gr. Akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head; “Perhaps Naumann thought ακρος=acutus [sharp-p0inted], as Agassiz…did; but this is an error” {BOU 1915)”

In Lederer & Burr at pg. 15 it is mentioned:
“The language of derivation of the scientific name is noted if it is other than Latin”

Looking on the Internet (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0059:entry=acro) the meaning of Acro, in Latin language, might be “the extremity of a thing”. So it looks like the translation Acro – acrobatic is not correct.

Cristian
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
From one aspect of biology: acrocentric denotes a chromosome where the centromere is placed all the way out in one end so could support the last usage, but it also makes the chromosome look as if the centromere is its head. I have not tried looking for old papers where the term might be introduced to see what the original author said about the meaning (if anything).

Niels
 

Gonçalo Elias

Well-known member
Portugal
Back to this old topic about the etymology of Acrocephalus...

According to James Jobling's dictionary: "Gr. akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head;"

The Great Read Warbler often sings on top of a read in a very vertical position with its head at the top.
The scientific name could thus mean "head at the top". Does this make any sense?
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Back to this old topic about the etymology of Acrocephalus...

According to James Jobling's dictionary: "Gr. akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head;"

The Great Read Warbler often sings on top of a read in a very vertical position with its head at the top.
The scientific name could thus mean "head at the top". Does this make any sense?
I'd always understood it to be derived from acer, acris, 'sharp' / 'pointed', and referring to the pointed shape of the head?
 

James Jobling

Well-known member
Regardless of our present knowledge and interpretation, "pointed head" is how the authors regarded this warbler; "Gattung: Spitzkopf. (Rohrsänger.) ACROCEPHALUS ... Kopf: Mit gestreckter, flacher und schmaler Stirn, — so daß der Kopf von allen Seiten nach dem Schnabel zu sehr spitz zuläuft." (Naumann & Naumann 1811).
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Regardless of our present knowledge and interpretation, "pointed head" is how the authors regarded this warbler; "Gattung: Spitzkopf. (Rohrsänger.) ACROCEPHALUS ... Kopf: Mit gestreckter, flacher und schmaler Stirn, — so daß der Kopf von allen Seiten nach dem Schnabel zu sehr spitz zuläuft." (Naumann & Naumann 1811).
Talking of which, is this (Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vogel des nordlichen Deutschlands) available anywhere online, please? I've found various volumes / editions at google books, but nothing dated 1811; BHL doesn't have it, unless a typo is preventing their rather rigid search system from finding it.
 

James Jobling

Well-known member
Here is the complete entry for Acrocephalus in my Key MS;
(Acrocephalidae; † Great Reed Warbler A. arundinaceus) Gr. ακρος akros point, crest < ακη akē point; -κεφαλος -kephalos -headed < κεφαλη kephalē head; “Acrocephalus, from ακρος = top, and κεφαλη = head. Perhaps Naumann thought ακρος = acutus, as Agassiz (Nomen. Zool.) did; but this is an error.” (BOU 1915); "Um dem Wirwar, der in den Beschreibungen der Rohrsänger bisher herrschte, zu steuern, will ich hier, was ich aus vieljährigen genauen Beobachtungen über diese Vogelgattung weiß, systematisch aufstellen, und ich hoffe, wahre Kenner werden mir ihren Beifall nicht verjagen. Die Natur hat, wie mich dünst, diese Vögel auffallend genug gebildet, um sie von andern ähnlichen trennen und in künstlichen Systeme folgendermaßen aufstellen zu können. Gattung: Spitzkopf. (Rohrsänger.) ACROCEPHALUS. Schnabel: Gerade, dünn, am Kopfe viel breiter als an der pfriemenförmigen Spitze; der Oberschnabel an dieser mit einem kleinen Ausschnitt versehen und etwas mehr gekrümmt als der untere. Mundwinkel: Gefärbt. Ueber denselben an der Schnabelwurzel stehen einzelne Bartborsten. Nasenlöcher: Eiförmig. Kopf: Mit gestreckter, flacher und schmaler Stirn, — so daß der Kopf von allen Seiten nach dem Schnabel zu sehr spitz zuläuft. Schwanz: Keilförmig oder zugerundet. Beine: Mittelmäßig hoch, mit großen flachzirkelich gekrümmten scharfen Krallen, besonders die der Hinterzehe, und mit großen Ballen der gelben Fußsohlen. ... Ich kenne 7 Arten, deren Kennzeichen hier folgen: 1. A. lacustris (mihi) großer Spitzkopf. I. S. 224. Taf. 46. Fig. 103. Turdus arundinaceus. Lin. ... 2. A. arundinaceus (mihi) rostgrauer Spitzkopf. I. 225. Taf. 46. Fig. 104. Sylvia arundinacea. Bechst. ornith. Taschenb. I. 174. No. 11. ... 3. A. stagnatilis (mihi) grünlich grauer Sp. Nachtr. Taf. 27. Fig. 52. ... 4. A. palustris (mihi) olivengrauer Sp. I. 227. Taf. 46. Fig. 105. Sylvia palustris. Bechst. O. T. I. 186. No. 21. ... 5. A. phragmitis (mihi) olivenbrauner Sp. I. 231. Taf. 47. Fig. 107. Sylvia phragmitis Bechst. O. T. I. 186. No. 20. ... 6. A. fluviatilis (mihi) lerchenfarbige Sp. Nachtr. Taf. 27. Fig. 53. Motacilla Locustella. Latham Ind. orn. II. 513. No. 25. ... 7. A. salicarius (mihi) gestreifte Sp. I. 229. Taf. 47. Fig. 229. Sylvia salicaria. Bechst. O. T. I. 185. No. 19. ... Anmerk. Hieher gehört auch ohne Zweifel: der schwarzstirnige Sänger, Sylvia nigrifrons. Bechstein. Siehe dessen ornith. Taschenb. I. 176. No. 12. dessen Naturgesch. Deutschl. IV. 675. Taf. 27. und dessen Uberfetzung v. Latham's Uebers. der Vögel Bd. IV. das Titelkupfer. Ich habe diesen Vogel selbst noch nicht gesehen: ist es nicht vielleicht das alte Männchen von meinem A. Palustris?" (J. A. & J. F. Naumann 1811) (OD per Martin Schneider and Bernhard Just); "For the information of ornithologists anxious to distinguish themselves by discovering forgotten names, I may state that there are no Latin names of birds given in this rare work of Naumann's, except in the genus Acrocephalus, beyond an occasional quotation of Linnæus" (Seebohm 1880); "Acrocephalus J. A. and J. F. Naumann, 1811, Naturgeschichte Land-Wasser-Vögel Nördlichen Deutschlands, Nachtrag, p. 199. Type, by subsequent designation (G. R. Gray, 1840, List Gen. Birds, p. 21), Acrocephalus arundinaceus (Linnaeus) = Turdus arundinaceus Linnaeus." (Watson in Peters, 1986, XI, p. 56).
Var. Acrocophalus, Acrulocephalus, Aegocephalus ("Aegocephalus turdoides" in a list of birds and mammals observed (Vierthaler 1852)).
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Talking of which, is this (Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vogel des nordlichen Deutschlands) available anywhere online, please? I've found various volumes / editions at google books, but nothing dated 1811; BHL doesn't have it, unless a typo is preventing their rather rigid search system from finding it.
I have always failed to find it too. If you find it, I would be interested.
 

Björn Bergenholtz

... also known as "Calalp"
Talking of which, is this (Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vogel des nordlichen Deutschlands) available anywhere online, please? I've found various volumes / editions at google books, but nothing dated 1811; BHL doesn't have it, unless a typo is preventing their rather rigid search system from finding it.

Assume it is a Supplement:

...:
But did not help to find the Nachtrag.;) Isn't it. But see also here

4 Teile und 8 Nachträge von Johann Andreas Naumann und Friedrich Naumann und Tafelbde in 6-7 Bdn., untersch. zusammengeb.

We've been looking for digitized copies of that certain piece earlier, with quite a frenzy, for quite a while, but at last (at least) James got a copy of 'Heft 4', thanks to Martin/'Taphrospilus' [who apparently, seems to have forgotten all about it!? ;)], including the OD of Acrocephalus NAUMANN (& NAUMANN) 1811, from "Bernhard Just of the Naumann Museum", in Germany (see thread Etymologies; the beginning of the end ... here, posts #: –79–82, 100–102, 106, 113).

Here is the complete entry for Acrocephalus in my Key MS;
(Acrocephalidae; † Great Reed Warbler A. arundinaceus) Gr. ακρος akros point, crest < ακη akē point; -κεφαλος -kephalos -headed < κεφαλη kephalē head; “Acrocephalus, from ακρος = top, and κεφαλη = head.
[...]
... Ich habe diesen Vogel selbst noch nicht gesehen: ist es nicht vielleicht das alte Männchen von meinem A. Palustris?" (J. A. & J. F. Naumann 1811) (OD per Martin Schneider and Bernhard Just);
[...]

Why this sudden search for it once again?

Any doubts on James's entry? On the Type species itself?

Or ... simply: why are we back at this topic?

Björn
--
 
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Björn Bergenholtz

... also known as "Calalp"
Talking of which, is this (Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vogel des nordlichen Deutschlands) available anywhere online, please? I've found various volumes / editions at google books, but nothing dated 1811; BHL doesn't have it, unless a typo is preventing their rather rigid search system from finding it.
"Nutty", the letter/s ä versus a (or vice versa), might confuse, though normally those dots don't cause any problems for most search systems ('rigid', or not), when trying to find most papers, however the one particular publication you ought to look for seems to be:

Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vögel des nördlichen Deutschlands und angränzender Länder, nach eignen Erfahrungen entworfen, und nach dem Leben gezeichnet Vol. IV, Nachtrag (Supplement) "Heft 4" (1811)

And if you do find it, I would also, just like Laurent (and quite a few others, I assume) certainly be interested to have look at it (I haven't seen the OD myself).

For more details of Johann Andreas Naumann and Johann Friedrich Naumann, and their four volumes, from 1795–1803, with eight supplements (Nachträge) 1804–1817, see pp. 56–61, in the paper: The Development of Ornithology and Species Knowledge in Central Europe, by Jürgen Haffer (†), Hans Hudde & Brian Hillcoat, in Bonn zoological Bulletin – Supplementum 59: 1–116, (2013) = here (it's well worth the read, even if not interested in any certain Bibliography what-so-ever).


Re. the very start (or re-start) of this topic, the very point (or question of) what's pointing ...
Back to this old topic about the etymology of Acrocephalus...

According to James Jobling's dictionary: "Gr. akros topmost, highest (ake point); kephale head;"

The Great Read Warbler often sings on top of a read in a very vertical position with its head at the top.
The scientific name could thus mean "head at the top". Does this make any sense?
I'd always understood it to be derived from acer, acris, 'sharp' / 'pointed', and referring to the pointed shape of the head?
I've seen that description, although the head is not really pointed at the top, is it?
Regardless of our present knowledge and interpretation, "pointed head" is how the authors regarded this warbler; "Gattung: Spitzkopf. (Rohrsänger.) ACROCEPHALUS ... Kopf: Mit gestreckter, flacher und schmaler Stirn, — so daß der Kopf von allen Seiten nach dem Schnabel zu sehr spitz zuläuft." (Naumann & Naumann 1811).
3:)
Pointed along the bill!

And also note the reprinted Plate, in the Paper by Haffer, Hudde & Hillcoat (on p. 58), with two Acrocephalus Warblers (both Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus and Aquatic Warbler A. paludicola) pointing both up, and right (respectively). ;)

If also the type species itself (for all Acrocephalidae), according to James's MS Key entry, today's Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, and all the other four (all in all seven) species mentioned/listed in Naumann's OD for the genus Acrocephalus (according to the Richmond card, here) were equally depicted by Naumann (Jr.) in the same Nachtrag is unknown to me, but I would think so, as Haffer, Hudde & Hillcoat writes "The differences between several similar Acrocephalus species are outlined, illustrated by Johann Friedrich’s magnificent color plates." (and note; 'plates', in Plural). Also equally indicated/verified in the quotation of the OD itself, in James's latest reply (post #13, from Key MS).

Either way; good luck finding a digitized copy (of both the text and the Plates).

Björn (with dots, on top)

PPS. In Naumann's later Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands ... , Vol. 3 (1823) his "großer Spitzkopf" was depicted on Plate 81 (fig.1) here, though still (!?) as "Sylvia turdoides" (today's Acrocephalus arundinaceus, supposedly not to be confused with fig.2; 'Sylvia arundanicea' ... ?!?), with all its text, all in German, in those (hard-to-read) Fraktur 'font'/letters, on p.597–613, here), which (last in the list of synonyms) has a reference to his own old (alte) Work (from back in 1797) and "Der Große Rohrschirf" (here), though in this text itself without any scientific/binomial names, however in the Register (here) listed as "große Rohrschirf ... Turdus arundinaceus (L.)", however the (Kupfertafeln) 'Tabula XXXXVI', in the latter work is unseen by me.

And: Good luck understanding it all.
--
 
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Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
"Nutty", the letter/s ä versus a (or vice versa), might confuse, though normally those dots don't cause any problems for most search systems ('rigid', or not), when trying to find most papers, however the one particular publication you ought to look for seems to be:

Naturgeschichte der Land- und Wasser-Vögel des nördlichen Deutschlands und angränzender Länder, nach eignen Erfahrungen entworfen, und nach dem Leben gezeichnet Vol. IV, Nachtrag (Supplement) "Heft 4" (1811)

And if you do find it, I would also, just like Laurent (and quite a few others, I assume) certainly be interested to have look at it (I haven't seen the OD myself).
Thanks! I fear though that if neither you nor Laurent (nor others) have found it online, my chances are also zero!

Of BHL's search, by 'rigid' I mean that it won't return hits for Vögel if the search input text has Vogel: it is that sensitive, that accents, diacritics, hyphens, etc., have to be exactly as in BHL's text to get a hit. Which is a problem as a lot of literature sources like Zoonomen are rather sloppy about getting them right.
 

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