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Hoopoe (Upupa epops) (1 Viewer)

Gonçalo Elias

Well-known member
Portugal
I have been wondering about the origin of the name Upupa

Is it an onomatopoeia?

According to James Jobling's Dictionary, the word comes straight from Latin, but would make sense that the Latin word itself was onomatopoeic, just like Cuculus.

Any opinions?
 

l_raty

laurent raty
In French, the bird is called "la huppe", which also means "the crest", so many tend to think the bird is named for its crest.
But in fact, it's the other way around. Bird crests are called "huppes" in French because the bird sports one... and the bird is so called because of its call.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
English Hoopoe is also onomatopoeic. The odd one is Danish Hærfugl / Swedish Härfågel - 'army bird', no idea why it got that name.
 

njlarsen

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Complete speculation about Danish Hærfugl / Swedish Härfågel: officers a few hundred years ago sported strange headgear, could it be that the crest reminded an influential person about that?

Niels
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Complete speculation about Danish Hærfugl / Swedish Härfågel: officers a few hundred years ago sported strange headgear, could it be that the crest reminded an influential person about that?

Niels
Think there's more to it than that; I vaguely recollect something about their rare appearance was considered a foreboding of forthcoming invasions. No idea where I read that, but I'll search further.


Edit: yep; from Politikens Nudansk Ordbog, because its call was thought to presage war.
 
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njlarsen

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Think there's more to it than that; I vaguely recollect something about their rare appearance was considered a foreboding of forthcoming invasions. No idea where I read that, but I'll search further.

Given how many wars I have read about in history lessons, that also sounds plausible.

Niels
 

Gonçalo Elias

Well-known member
Portugal
In French, the bird is called "la huppe", which also means "the crest", so many tend to think the bird is named for its crest.
But in fact, it's the other way around. Bird crests are called "huppes" in French because the bird sports one... and the bird is so called because of its call.

Same in Portuguese.

Poupa is the species name, but this word is also used to mean crest (such as in chapim-de-poupa = Crested Tit).

BUT: in Portugal this species has some interesting regional names as well, for instance in the northeast it is called "Boubela" which in a way also sounds onomatopoeic. In other regions it's called "Poupa-pão" which could be literally translated as "save-bread" or "save-the-bread" but againg if you pronounce it with a certaing rhythm it has an onomatopoeic flavour.
 

James Jobling

Well-known member
From my Key MS;
... ... L. upupa hoopoe < Gr. εποψ epops, εποπος epopos hoopoe; since classicial times the Hoopoe’s name in many languages has been onomatopoeic of its distinctive and familiar call (e.g. Arabic Hudhud, Dutch Hop, French Huppe puput, Hungarian Búbos, Polish Dudek, Portuguese Poupa, Russian Upop, Spanish Abubilla) ... ...
 

mb1848

Well-known member
The connection to this bird and war may come from the Qur'an were King Solomon's army had humans jinn and birds and the Hoopoe spied on the Queen of Sheba for Solomon.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
The connection to this bird and war may come from the Qur'an were King Solomon's army had humans jinn and birds and the Hoopoe spied on the Queen of Sheba for Solomon.
Interesting idea, but I think a bit implausible given the lack of any close ties between Scandinavia and Islamic tradition :t:
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Interesting idea, but I think a bit implausible given the lack of any close ties between Scandinavia and Islamic tradition :t:

Struggling here ... how far back does the Scandinavian name go, and wasn't there a period when the islamic scholars were actually more advanced than the western (and probably stuff got repressed) and responsible for a fair amount of learning. Trying to go through all the hoops here ...
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Struggling here ... how far back does the Scandinavian name go, and wasn't there a period when the islamic scholars were actually more advanced than the western (and probably stuff got repressed) and responsible for a fair amount of learning. Trying to go through all the hoops here ...
Not sure how old the Scandinavian name is. In mediaeval times, Islamic scholars were way ahead of European, but that doesn't help with the remoteness of Scandinavia from the Islamic world (even despite the travels of the Vikings, though I suspect the 'army bird' name is a lot more recent than that). If Scandinavia had picked up a name from Islamic tradition, other European nations would have been even more likely to do so, not to mention its Arabic and other Middle Eastern names.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Not sure how old the Scandinavian name is. In mediaeval times, Islamic scholars were way ahead of European, but that doesn't help with the remoteness of Scandinavia from the Islamic world (even despite the travels of the Vikings, though I suspect the 'army bird' name is a lot more recent than that). If Scandinavia had picked up a name from Islamic tradition, other European nations would have been even more likely to do so, not to mention its Arabic and other Middle Eastern names.

Be interesting to know. As Hoopoe isn't a Scandinavian bird (?) there would be unlikely to have a name for it historically? It already had a name (onomatopoeic) in S European countries where it occurred normally of course. Entirely plausible it got its Scandi name from a legend (equally it may not have of course!)
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
The Hoopoe article in Swedish Wikipedia has a couple of paragraphs on its mythology and etymology, but unfortunately my Swedish isn't good enough to get the detail, and inevitably google translate also mucks up the translation enough to make it worthless. Ditto the Norwegian. Unfortunately, nothing in the Danish article, which is very brief.
 

Dutchbirder64

Well-known member
In Dutch it is called Hop. And one of the names farmers used for this bird is drekhaan. Drek is synonym of manure and haan is cock (bird). So a cock that sits regularly on manure or cow shit. |:d|
 

njlarsen

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I am not Swedish but I think I could get through what they state:

They say the name Härfågel is known back to mediaeval times but is converted from oäringsfågel which means "bird of years of misgrowth" so predicting both war and famine. It should all originate from its voice which is described as Up! Up! Up! Out! Out! (my translation of "Upp! Upp! Upp! Ut! Ut!")

DOF (the local birdlife partner) believes that Hoopoe was a widespread but scarce breeding bird in Denmark during 1700-1800 and they have three registered cases of breeding since 1970. It is a species that is seen as rare but regular during migration in Denmark. In the context of what the distribution might have been in mediaeval times, there are investigations from Greenland indicating it was warmer 1000 years ago than it is now. That could easily also have influenced the climate in Europe at the time.

Niels
 

Björn Bergenholtz

... also known as "Calalp"
According to my notes; the onamatopoeic name Upupa is originally (Ancient) Greek, known at least since Aristotle (Hist. anim IX: 15).

The Swedish name härfågel [här (army/troop) + fågel (bird)], in Old Swedish written här-fughl (a k a Hor-fogel), is supposedly originating from the old German Heervogel [today Wiedehopf], and it is known as härfågel (in this certain spelling) in Swedish litterature since at least 1713 (by Sahlstedt, also as such by Linnaeus 1731, in his Methodus avium Sveticarum, publ. 1907).

Note that Swedish Bird fauna has changed remarkably since the days of Linnaeus. The Hoope was breeding regularly in Southern Sweden all until the mid-1800's, and it is beleived to have been fairly common in the Southernmost parts of the country, in about the same time (at least in the Province Skåne, and on the Island Öland). With a rapid decline, all over, in the following decades. Today it's a (minor) rarity in Sweden, an unfrequent (but still somewhat frequent) vagrant, breeding only occasionally (often years apart).

As Linnaeus grew up in the early 1700's, in Råshult, Småland, not far away (only about twelve kilometers) from the northern border of/to Skåne, it's fairly possible, even likely, that he'd met this bird himself in the surroundings of his Childhood home (we certainly know that Rollers Coracias garrulus bred close by, in those days).

Either way, and (as correctly noted earlier in this thread) it's sound was truly (in Swedish folklore/popular belief) taken as an omen of war, (bad harvest) and starvation (as in when the troops passed by, empying every barn along their way). The call itself hoo - hoo - hoo - hoop was here (at least in the province Småland, Southern Sweden, where I grew up) interpreted (just like Niels told us) as: Upp, upp, ut, ut (Up, up, out, out)!

Up and out (and away) ... either; to hide, or work (even harder), alt. join in (join the troops).

In various old Swedish dialects the Hoopoe has been called (among several other totally irrelevant, or all unrelated names): uppfugel, or opp-fågel, popparegök ('Poping Guckoo'), etc., etc. , alt oppopp, or simply popp.

And; just for the fun of it; the same old Hoopoe was even earlier, prior to being called härfågel in Swedish, a k a vipa (at least as early as in the 1400's). A name for centuries shared with the very vipa istself, i.e. today's tofsvipa (the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus – clearly from their mutual head plumes). In Forsius's (Swedish) Physica 1611 the Hoopoe is simply called Upupa (in Swedish), with the straight forward, explainatory remark: "Upupa är icke wijpa" [Upupa is not wijpa (alt. vipa, the Lapwing)], equally explained in Latin: Upupa longe alia est avis Non Upupa sed Vanellus latine dictur. Well, that's good to know.

The old German 'Heervogel' is, according to some linguists, related to Horvogel mening Kotvogel (Dung-bird), somewhat in line with the equally old French 'coq puant' (Stench cock/rooster), names given simply as it apparently seemed connected to, as it most often was seen/ urned up, on dunghills, or in paddocks rich of manure (read: insects/food).

In today's French it's name is (less insulting) simply Huppe fasciée.

In any case, the Swedish name härfågel has absolutely nothing (contrary to what a or any Non-Swedish speakers might believe) to do with the Swedish word här (which simply means: here), that's just another similar/same-looking word, of no relevance what-so-ever to the härfågel (Hoopoe) itself, regardless of where or wherever it turn, turned, or turns up, neither here (här), nor there (där), on dunghills, or not.

Well, this turned out far longer than I expected, but that's about all I have in my notes about the härfågel (Hoopoe) ...

Enjoy!

Björn
 
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Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
The old German 'Heervogel' is, according to some linguists, related to Horvogel mening Kotvogel (Dung-bird), somewhat in line with the equally old French 'coq puant' (Stench cock/rooster), names given simply as it apparently seemed connected to, as it most often was seen/ urned up, on dunghills, or in paddocks rich of manure (read: insects/food).
Also apparently from its lack of any sense of nest hygeine :oops:
 

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