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#1
Old 06-22-2005, 08:24 AM
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What the english translation of the french bird names "hibou" and "chouette"

The title says it all. Responding to another, thread, I had some doubts about the correct translation of the word "chouette", and thought that maybe I was mistaking it with "hibou". But when I checked my dictionnary, it gave the same translation "owl" for both birds, though they're very different in appearance. So, ho do you tell them apart in english?


For non french-speakers, a couple pictures :


This night bird is a "hibou".


and this one a "chouette".

The "hibou" facial feathers form kind of pointed "hears" on each side of the head, while the facial feathers of the "chouette" form a kind of white flat and round "mask".
#2
Old 06-22-2005, 08:27 AM
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"hibou" is a Great Horned Owl.
http://owlpages.com/species/bubo...us/Default.htm

I think "chouette" is called a Barn Owl.
http://owlpages.com/species/tyto/alba/Default.htm
#3
Old 06-22-2005, 08:28 AM
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Oops, forgot to log in. Sorry Phatlewt (the post above was me).
#4
Old 06-22-2005, 08:29 AM
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The chouette looks like a barn owl.

Not sure about the other.
#5
Old 06-22-2005, 08:47 AM
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Odd. I've always used hibou as a generic word for owl
#6
Old 06-22-2005, 08:49 AM
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Thanks for the answers.


Now I've another question : are there some significant differences between the two birds, from a biological point of view that would justify the use of two different names, or is it a purely arbitrary distinction? I always assumed they belonged to two clearly different species, simply on the basis of them having different names in french. But now I'm thinking that maybe there's as much difference between two species of "chouette" than between a "chouette" and a "hibou".
#7
Old 06-22-2005, 08:56 AM
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Yes, biologically, they are not only two different species, they two types are in different genus. There are many types of barn owl but they are all in genus Tyto. The Great Horned owl (along with a number of owl species called Eagle Owls) are in genus Bubo.

Speaking culturally, the two types have very different "faces" and "expressions" (with the Great Horned Owl looking rather imperious and the barn owl more meek and kind). This is the kind of thing humans remark on and remember in other animals, giving rise to the linguistic distinction.
#8
Old 06-22-2005, 08:57 AM
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I think French is making a distinction here that we wouldn't make in English. In English, owls is owls. That notwithstanding, I understand from the dictionary that chouette is a more particular word than hibou, covering only owls of the family Strigidae. So to me, that would make a chouette a type of hibou. Your kilométrage may vary.
#9
Old 06-22-2005, 09:15 AM
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This question illustrates one of the differences in the way the English and French languages operate. In French, the tendancy is to have much more specific nouns, unique to the thing being named. In English, the tendency is to have more general nouns, with distinctions being indicated by adjectives.

Here's another example: in English, we refer to the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence River, but in French they're la Rivière Outaouais and la Fleuve St-Laurent. French makes a distinction that we don't make in English: "fleuve" is a stream that flows into the sea, while "rivière" is a stream that flows into some other body of water, such as a lake, or another river, or into a "fleuve". If we had to indicate that distinction in English, we'd use adjectives: the Ottawa is a tributary river of the St. Lawrence, which is a maritime river.
#10
Old 06-22-2005, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
I think French is making a distinction here that we wouldn't make in English. In English, owls is owls. That notwithstanding, I understand from the dictionary that chouette is a more particular word than hibou, covering only owls of the family Strigidae. So to me, that would make a chouette a type of hibou. Your kilométrage may vary.

I always understood the words as refering to two different birds, like say "eagle" and "falcon", not as one being a sub-category of another

Following your post, I searched in a (french) dictionnary to find out the exact definitions, and it appears that "hibou" refers to the genus (genuses???) : Asio, Bubo and Hotus while "chouette" refers to the genus "Tyto" in common parlance but for an ornithologist is a generic name for all "Strigidae".


So, does the common distinction make any particular sense? Is there more difference between a bird vrom the "Tyto" genus (chouette) and a bird from the "Bubo" genus (hibou) than between for instance a "Bubo" and an "Asio" (both hibou)?


I understand the idea that distinctive appearance have more weight for common names of animals than classification, but now, I'm curious.


Besides I'm also wondering if the different names given to various prey birds (be it in french or in english) are equally arbitrary from the point of view of an ornithologist (say, the difference between a falcon, a hawk, a buzzard....).
#11
Old 06-22-2005, 09:25 AM
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Just to add that a distinction is made between the Bubo, Asio and Hotus by calling them the french equivalent of "great duke" "medium duke" and "little duke", but I wouldn't know if these names originated in the usual language or were created by ornithologists.
#12
Old 06-22-2005, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
This night bird is a "hibou".
Although that does resemble the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) of North America, it is actually the closely related Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo)).

Quote:
and this one a "chouette".
That is the Barn Owl Tyto alba, which occurs in both Europe and the Americas.

French makes many more distinctions between various kinds of owls that English does. The official list of French names in the American Ornithologist's Union checklist includes the following (I am not going to attempt to include the proper accents):

Effraie de clochers = Barn Owl (other members of this family being collectively known as effraies).

Grand-duc d'Amerique = Great Horned Owl. Several other "eared" owls are called duc; depending on size they may be Grand-ducs, ducs, or petit-ducs.

Long-eared, Short-eared, and related owls are called hibou. Barred Owls and relatives are called chouette.

Various other kinds of owls are called harfang (Snowy Owl), cheveche, chevechette, and nyctale.

Note that these are "official" common names, and the names as actually used by the general public are apt to vary regionally.
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Old 06-22-2005, 09:36 AM
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Wait..I think might have gotten it wrong. Is the "genus" "above" or "below" the familly? I mean, does a genus belongs to a "family" or a "family" to a "genus"?


A link given above places the family above the genus, but Sal Ammoniac comment about hibou refering *only* to the Strigidae seems to imply otherwise...
#14
Old 06-22-2005, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
This question illustrates one of the differences in the way the English and French languages operate. In French, the tendancy is to have much more specific nouns, unique to the thing being named. In English, the tendency is to have more general nouns, with distinctions being indicated by adjectives.
.
I've already noticed the lack of word for "fleuve" in english (and by the way also the lack od distinction between a "lac" and an "etang", while we're talking about water), but can you make a general rule of it? Not to derail my own thread, but generally, it's the reverse argument that I read here (english has a largest vocabulary and all that...). Though I don't buy in the latter argument, I'm not convinced the former is true, either...
#15
Old 06-22-2005, 09:45 AM
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The problem here is the difference between what a specialist might call these birds, and what a layperson would call them. In lay language, the English word used would be "owl" for both chouette and hibou. And this would be correct, more correct than calling a falcon an eagle. That said, people are pretty ignorant about the names of things -- calling a falcon an eagle would be the least of their crimes. It's unbelievably common, for example, for people to call wasps "bees." I imagine that urbanized French people have the same problem, and that plenty of them would call a chouette a hibou.

But the more specialized terms -- Bubo, Strigidae, Tyto, et al. -- are only used by scientists or dedicated birders. I'll leave the classification aspect for them to chew over, and express as pellets.
#16
Old 06-22-2005, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
Following your post, I searched in a (french) dictionnary to find out the exact definitions, and it appears that "hibou" refers to the genus (genuses???) : Asio, Bubo and Hotus while "chouette" refers to the genus "Tyto" in common parlance but for an ornithologist is a generic name for all "Strigidae".
To address this directly, according to the AOU list Asio is hibou, Bubo is grand-duc, Otus is petit-duc, and Tyto is effraie. Chouette is used for the genera Ciccaba, Strix, and Surnia. But these are North American French, and popular usage in France itself may vary.

Quote:
So, does the common distinction make any particular sense? Is there more difference between a bird vrom the "Tyto" genus (chouette) and a bird from the "Bubo" genus (hibou) than between for instance a "Bubo" and an "Asio" (both hibou)?
Tyto belongs to a separate family (Tytonidae). However, even within the other family of owls (Strigidae) many genera have their own names, while some members of different genera use the same name. As is frequent with common names, there is no consistency.

Quote:
Besides I'm also wondering if the different names given to various prey birds (be it in french or in english) are equally arbitrary from the point of view of an ornithologist (say, the difference between a falcon, a hawk, a buzzard....).
Falcons belong to a distinctive family, the Falconidae, which also includes caracaras. The other family of diurnal raptors is the Accipitridae, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, Old World vultures, and others. None of the latter names have any specific scientific meaning, but can refer to various forms which may not be that closely related.

"Buzzard" properly refers to hawks of the genus Buteo, such as the Red-tailed Hawk. However, in North America this name was applied by early colonists to the Turkey Vulture (which belongs to the New World Vultures, which, as it turns out, are not related to the Old World Vultures, but are actually a kind of stork). This usage is probably now too firmly ingrained to attempt to change the names of the New World Buteos to "buzzards."

Sometimes common names have some definite relationship to scientific categories, but more often than not they don't.
#17
Old 06-22-2005, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
I imagine that urbanized French people have the same problem, and that plenty of them would call a chouette a hibou.
.

I'm not sure of it in this particular case, because the "hibou" and "chouette" are quite well separated in popular representation, including for instance in children books.


That's why I wondered about this at the first place, because I was mentionning a custom of crucifying "chouettes" on barn's doors while there has never been such a custom for "hiboux". "Chouettes" are associated with evil and are supposed to announce death when they howl or fly over. While "hiboux" generally have positive connotations, in particular wisdom (for instance, coming back to children books, a hibou is likely to be an old teacher or somesuch). I remember a clear dislike of "chouettes" amongst my peers when I was a kid (I remember in particular a day when the teacher brought a stuffed "chouette" in the classroom).


Not to say that the fact this distinction is AFAICT quite wisepread would man that french people don't commonly mistake various animals for other ones, like in your bee/wasp example. Or maybe, since precisely I've been a rural kid, I overestimate my more urbanite fellow frenchmen knowledge about animals.


Now, I get yet another somehow related question (due to the hibou/wisdom thing). Could one tell what specie (or genus, or whatever) the bird associated with Athena belonged to? For instance, it's depicted here on the greek 1 € coin. Or is it impossible to know/ to tell?
#18
Old 06-22-2005, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
Now, I get yet another somehow related question (due to the hibou/wisdom thing). Could one tell what specie (or genus, or whatever) the bird associated with Athena belonged to? For instance, it's depicted here on the greek 1 € coin. Or is it impossible to know/ to tell?
Logically, it should be a Chevêche d' Athéna, but Colibri might have a better answer.

By the way, your detail on the popular distinction between chouettes and hiboux is fascinating, and unknown to me. And I suspect you're right that there's a distinction between rural and urban on this one.
#19
Old 06-22-2005, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri

Falcons belong to a distinctive family, the Falconidae, which also includes caracaras. The other family of diurnal raptors is the Accipitridae, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, Old World vultures, and others. None of the latter names have any specific scientific meaning, but can refer to various forms which may not be that closely related.
I would never have suspected that eagles or hawks were more closely related to vultures than to falcons, due to their appearance.





[quote] "Buzzard" properly refers to hawks of the genus Buteo, such as the Red-tailed Hawk. However, in North America this name was applied by early colonists to the Turkey Vulture (which belongs to the New World Vultures, which, as it turns out, are not related to the Old World Vultures, but are actually a kind of stork). This usage is probably now too firmly ingrained to attempt to change the names of the New World Buteos to "buzzards." [quote]


Which answer to another question I didn't ask but occured to me while writing my post. I was actually refering to the large hawk-looking raptor. But I had to search its english name in the dictionnary, and was quite surprised to find "buzzard" since I indeed always thought the buzzards were vultures.



Thanks for all the answers...
#20
Old 06-22-2005, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
Now, I get yet another somehow related question (due to the hibou/wisdom thing). Could one tell what specie (or genus, or whatever) the bird associated with Athena belonged to? For instance, it's depicted here on the greek 1 € coin. Or is it impossible to know/ to tell?
Traditionally the owl of Athena is considered to be the Little Owl, as testified by its scientific name Athene noctua.
#21
Old 06-22-2005, 10:27 AM
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Incidentally, the owls are not closely related to the diurnal birds of prey (hawks, falcons, Old World Vultures) but are instead closer to the nightjars (nighthawks, whippoorwills, and other nocturnal species.)
#22
Old 06-22-2005, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
Logically, it should be a Chevêche d' Athéna, but Colibri might have a better answer.

By the way, your detail on the popular distinction between chouettes and [I]hiboux.
My thread is going in all directions, but I'm now wondering if the custom of crucifying night birds (be they chouettes, effraies or owls) is a purely french one or if it exists (or more likely existed) in other european countries....
#23
Old 06-22-2005, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Incidentally, the owls are not closely related to the diurnal birds of prey (hawks, falcons, Old World Vultures) but are instead closer to the nightjars (nighthawks, whippoorwills, and other nocturnal species.)


I didn't even know such birds existed... Would you have some link about them?
#24
Old 06-22-2005, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Traditionally the owl of Athena is considered to be the Little Owl, as testified by its scientific name Athene noctua.


Thanks. Actually, to my surprise, the depiction is fairly accurate and really looks like the real bird.
#25
Old 06-22-2005, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Note that these are "official" common names, and the names as actually used by the general public are apt to vary regionally.

Most certainly. For me, an "effraie"was some sub-category of "chouette" and though I knew that "cheveches" existed, for al I knew about them, they culdhave been nightingales.


I also believed for a long time that "harfangs" were some kind of rodents until I saw a picture of one. Maybe I should abstain from making comments about other people's unability to tell animals apart....
#26
Old 06-22-2005, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
I didn't even know such birds existed... Would you have some link about them?
Here are some illustrations, and here is some information.

Other related familes, such as the potoos (Nyctibidae), frogmouths (Podargidae), and owlet-nightjars (Aegothelidae) look even more like owls.
#27
Old 06-22-2005, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Other related familes, such as the potoos (Nyctibidae), frogmouths (Podargidae), and owlet-nightjars (Aegothelidae) look even more like owls.


Weird birds....some look like a crossing betwen an owl and a parrot, and others like creatures from the star wars movies....
#28
Old 06-22-2005, 12:30 PM
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For what it's worth, Colibri's little owl (Athene noctua) is the same thing as the Chevêche d'Athéna.

Did I mention how much I'm enjoying this thread? Don't know why, since I'm not a bird person in particular.

All right, here's a bizarre but semi-related question -- in the French translation of Harry Potter, what is Hedwig? A hibou or something else?
#29
Old 06-22-2005, 12:47 PM
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She's a snowy owl, which translates as "harfang des neiges ".

And now I know what our own Nyctea Scandiaca's name means.
#30
Old 06-22-2005, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
I've already noticed the lack of word for "fleuve" in english (and by the way also the lack od distinction between a "lac" and an "etang", while we're talking about water), but can you make a general rule of it?
As I understand it, isn't an "étang" a pond?

At any rate, as for "fleuve," some Canadians make the mistake of thinking that the translation for "fleuve" would be "seaway," because of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. However, the Seaway is actually a system of canals that make the river navigable from Brockville to Montreal; the French is "Voie maritime du Saint-Laurent." "Fleuve Saint-Laurent" is the Saint Lawrence River.

A further tangle: there are two major rivers in Canada called Churchill River; but the one in Manitoba flows into Hudson Bay, and the one in Labrador flows into the Atlantic. So they're called "rivière Churchill" and "fleuve Churchill" respectively.

Getting back to owls, in Canada there are fairly standardized references for bird names. Check out the Grand Dictionnaire terminologique, run by the Office québécois de la langue française: http://granddictionnaire.com/ .
#31
Old 06-22-2005, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
All right, here's a bizarre but semi-related question -- in the French translation of Harry Potter, what is Hedwig? A hibou or something else?
"Harfang des neiges" is the most common word for snowy owl, but apparently a "harfang" is regarded as a type of "chouette," not "hibou," as I also find "chouette blanche."

I can't find Hamish's copy of Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers, so I can only note for the present that Google turns up both "Hedwig la chouette" and "Hedwig le harfang," but with more for "chouette." Since I suppose snowy owls are less well-known in Europe than in Canada (they're Quebec's provincial bird), a bit of terminological inexactitude might be expected.

(As far as I know, N. scandiaca is the only species of "harfang," so I find it a little odd for it to be modified by "des neiges".)
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Old 06-22-2005, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper
This question illustrates one of the differences in the way the English and French languages operate. In French, the tendancy is to have much more specific nouns, unique to the thing being named. In English, the tendency is to have more general nouns, with distinctions being indicated by adjectives.
I've already noticed the lack of word for "fleuve" in english (and by the way also the lack od distinction between a "lac" and an "etang", while we're talking about water), but can you make a general rule of it? Not to derail my own thread, but generally, it's the reverse argument that I read here (english has a largest vocabulary and all that...). Though I don't buy in the latter argument, I'm not convinced the former is true, either...
I suspect that most generalized comparisons about languages would not stand up to very serious scrutiny.

IF there is a serious distinction made along the lines that Northern Piper outlined, my wild assed guess would be that English has, in the last 300 years, been affected by the broad sweep of English-speaking colonization together with expanded literacy. People tend to pick up words in books and apply them to local phenomena, unaware that the same phenomena would have had a separate word among the original speakers. (We see a little bit of this between American English and British English.)

For example, there is a potential distinction between lac = lake and etang = pond in American English, but we cannot agree on what constitutes a pond. Two definitions I have seen have been 1) a small body of water shallow enough to support bottom-rooted plants and 2) a small body of water that is fed by springs and not by a stream. In reality, however, most Americans use "pond" to mean a small body of water, with absolutely no guideline as to how small a "lake" can get before it becomes a pond. (Walden Pond satisfies both of the previous definitions, being a spring-fed body of water that is too deep to support aquatic plants. On the other hand, it was named at a time when the American settlers were closer to their British ancestors. The body of water at the end of my street is substantially smaller than Walden's 62 acres/25 hectares, is spring fed, and is too deep for aquatic growth, yet it appears on all maps (and is universally called) a lake.)

An example of my guess as to the process for the change in English can be demonstrated with the "Americanization" of the word creek. Originally, the word meant something similar to a small estuary or the channels or streams of water flowing through a salt marsh into an estuary. This, of course, was the first sort of stream that British settlers found in the swampy shores of Virginia and the Carolinas. However, as the children of the settlers moved inland, they applied the word to any stream smaller than a river. This would have explained its new use in the Central Appalachians, but as the word was used in print, it spread (with its new meaning) to places never settled by people moving up from the Central Atlantic states. And, again, we have the problem of relative size applied to names: I grew up near Paint Creek in Southeast Michigan, but have seen several smaller streams in the much drier American West called "rivers." Similarly, the Porcupine Mountains of Upper Michigan would hardly rate as foothills to a person growing up in the shadow of the Rockies.

We have words with which we are all familiar from reading and we apply those words to things we know in ways that the original speakers would find astonishing. With more people spread across more land, English has more possibilities to generate that sort of confusion.

This would not explain the use of the single word "owl" for a broad spectrum of birds, in English. However, there are other factors at play, here. In English, "owl" means any nocturnal bird with a relatively flat face. The category is easily identified, regardless of later Linnaean efforts to parse out its members. English may very well be more "general" than French (subject to my initial caveat), and still find itself in possession of more words than other languages because of its widespread use. For example, English already had gorge and defile to describe one particular set of landforms, but once the Americans emigrating from the plains where there were no gorges or defiles began bumping into Mexican canyons (cañones), they adopted that word to describe the phenomenon. Writing of their locations, they passed the word back to those living in the East, so now we have an additional word to describe a narrow, steep-sided valley.
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Old 06-22-2005, 01:15 PM
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bzzzzzt!

Quote:
Walden Pond satisfies both of the previous definitions, being a spring-fed body of water that is too deep to support aquatic plants.
Walden Pond satisfies only one of the previous definitions, being a spring-fed body of water that is too deep to support aquatic plants.
#34
Old 06-22-2005, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by matt_mcl
Getting back to owls, in Canada there are fairly standardized references for bird names. Check out the Grand Dictionnaire terminologique, run by the Office québécois de la langue française: http://granddictionnaire.com/ .
Here's the full AOU list of French bird names (warning: pdf).

This is the complete list of the owls of North America. (The first two names are the scientific names, the remainder, the French. Unfortunately the formatting didn't come through:

Code:
TYTONIDAE
Tyto alba Effraie des clochers
Tyto glaucops Effraie d'Hispaniola

STRIGIDAE
Otus flammeolus Petit-duc nain
Otus sunia Petit-duc d'Orient
Megascops kennicottii Petit-duc des montagnes
Megascops asio Petit-duc maculé
Megascops seductus Petit-duc du Balsas
Megascops cooperi Petit-duc de Cooper
Megascops trichopsis Petit-duc à moustaches
Megascops choliba Petit-duc choliba
Megascops barbarus Petit-duc bridé
Megascops guatemalae Petit-duc guatémaltèque
Megascops clarkii Petit-duc de Clark
Megascops nudipes Petit-duc de Porto Rico
Gymnoglaux lawrencii Petit-duc de Cuba
Lophostrix cristata Duc à aigrettes
Pulsatrix perspicillata Chouette à lunettes
Bubo virginianus Grand-duc d'Amérique
Bubo scandiacus Harfang des neiges
Surnia ulula Chouette épervière
Glaucidium gnoma Chevêchette naine
Glaucidium costaricanum Chevêchette du Costa Rica
Glaucidium griseiceps Chevêchette à tête grise
Glaucidium sanchezi Chevêchette du Tamaulipas
Glaucidium palmarum Chevêchette du Colima
Glaucidium brasilianum Chevêchette brune
Glaucidium siju Chevêchette de Cuba
Micrathene whitneyi Chevêchette des saguaros
Athene cunicularia Chevêche des terriers
Ciccaba virgata Chouette mouchetée
Ciccaba nigrolineata Chouette à lignes noires
Strix occidentalis Chouette tachetée
Strix varia Chouette rayée
Strix fulvescens Chouette fauve
Strix nebulosa Chouette lapone
Asio otus Hibou moyen-duc
Asio stygius Hibou maître-bois
Asio flammeus Hibou des marais
Pseudoscops clamator Hibou strié
Pseudoscops grammicus Hibou de la Jamaïque
Aegolius funereus Nyctale de Tengmalm
Aegolius acadicus Petite Nyctale
Aegolius ridgwayi Nyctale immaculée
#35
Old 06-22-2005, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_mcl
As I understand it, isn't an "étang" a pond?
.
I thought about that, but then, what is a "mare"?
#36
Old 06-22-2005, 01:59 PM
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I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty taken with the chouette à lunettes. I wouldn't mind having one for a pet.
#37
Old 06-22-2005, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty taken with the chouette à lunettes. I wouldn't mind having one for a pet.
Yes, Spectacled Owls are cool. They are one of the commonest owls here in Panama. However, its Spanish name in Peru is not quite so appealing: ataudero, "coffin-maker," because its call supposedly sounds like the dull thud of a hammer nailing a coffin lid closed.
#38
Old 06-22-2005, 03:57 PM
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Never mind the rest of you. When I was in Tellin and Metz, chouette was a diminutive - a small owl whereas hibou was a generic term for owl. That is, any small owl, regardless of species, was a chouette; whereas any owl, regardless of size, was a hibou.
#39
Old 06-22-2005, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
When I was in Tellin and Metz, chouette was a diminutive - a small owl whereas hibou was a generic term for owl. That is, any small owl, regardless of species, was a chouette; whereas any owl, regardless of size, was a hibou.
Perhaps, but what is chouette supposed to be a diminutive of? Nominally it might be presumed to refer to a small cabbage (chou), not a small owl. In any case, the owls that the name is applied to are not particularly small - mostly they are medium-sized, and one, the Great Gray Owl, is quite large.
#40
Old 06-22-2005, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
I thought about that, but then, what is a "mare"?
A sea? as in the latin, "mare imbrium" (The Sea of Showers) on the moon.

The odd thing is, I can only think of three bodies of water to which I would apply "sea" -- The Mediaterranean Sea (which is sometimes also called by ocean), The Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea.

I don't know why the Great Lakes are called Lakes while the Black Sea is a Sea. Perhaps the first people to encounter and name them did not know how large they were.
#41
Old 06-22-2005, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again
A sea? as in the latin, "mare imbrium" (The Sea of Showers) on the moon.

The odd thing is, I can only think of three bodies of water to which I would apply "sea" -- The Mediaterranean Sea (which is sometimes also called by ocean), The Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea.

I don't know why the Great Lakes are called Lakes while the Black Sea is a Sea. Perhaps the first people to encounter and name them did not know how large they were.
Lakes are often considered to be large freshwater bodies. "Seas" are large bodies of salt water, usually enclosed or semi-enclosed by land. That is why the Caspian and Aral Seas are called that, even though technically they they are salt lakes.

Why would you not consider the Caribbean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Red Sea, Bering Sea, Sea of Japan, or South China Sea to be seas? And I have never heard anybody refer to the Mediterranean Ocean.
#42
Old 06-22-2005, 05:57 PM
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I don't know that many people call it the Carribean sea... I have heard it called the Carribean Ocean but more often, simply the Carribean. Your other examples are good ones (one I just didn't think of off the top of my head) and it just goes to show how wierd English is because some of those we call "sea" are enclosed and some are not.
#43
Old 06-22-2005, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again
I don't know that many people call it the Carribean sea... I have heard it called the Carribean Ocean but more often, simply the Carribean.
It's universally called the Caribbean Sea - look at any Atlas. I live not very far from it, and its always called that (Mar Caribe in Spanish). It is never (correctly) called the Caribbean Ocean, because it is a sea, not an ocean. Oceans are the largest bodies of water on the planet; the only bodies normally called oceans are the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and sometimes the Antarctic.
#44
Old 06-22-2005, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_mcl
Getting back to owls, in Canada there are fairly standardized references for bird names. Check out the Grand Dictionnaire terminologique, run by the Office québécois de la langue française: http://granddictionnaire.com/ .
That is true, but personally I've never learned the difference between a hibou and a chouette. Actually, I thank clairobscur for starting this thread and fighting my ignorance. I would probably have called any night bird a hibou (except for the harfang des neiges, which is quite recognizable and well-known), and I think most people I know would do the same.
Quote:
I can't find Hamish's copy of Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers, so I can only note for the present that Google turns up both "Hedwig la chouette" and "Hedwig le harfang," but with more for "chouette."
I read the second Harry Potter book in French once, and if I remember correctly, Hedwig was called a chouette. I certainly don't remember her being called a harfang.
#45
Old 06-22-2005, 07:54 PM
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If clairobscur doesn't object, I'd like to ask a question (while the ornithologists and francophones are gathered round) that is in the same vein as his OP.

Just like l'hibou and la chouette both translate as "owl", there are two words in French for the bird that English speakers call a "seagull": le goéland and la mouette.

For example, the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull is called Jonathan Livingston le goéland in French, whereas Chekhov's play known in English as The Seagull is La Mouette in French (by Tchekhov, bien sur!).

Are goélands and mouettes differentiated in children's picture books in France or Quebec, like hiboux and chouettes? Are there different cultural implications, like one being "good" and another "evil" (as clairobscur mentioned)?
#46
Old 06-22-2005, 08:08 PM
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Concerning the mouette/goeland : As far as I know, there isn't any widely known difference in representation between mouettes and goelands. I' not aware of any particuler belief about either, but actually, but it of course doesn't mean they couldn't exist.

Personnally, I would be unable to tell them apart. Though I know both words, I never knew what was the difference.
#47
Old 06-22-2005, 08:18 PM
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::rummages around for HP a l'ecole des sorciers::

I only skimmed the beginning parts where Harry is wandering around Diagon Alley and owl-buying, but it seems that owls-in-general are referred to as hiboux, whereas Hedwig(e!) herself is referred to as a chouette (because of her species?).

Harry's Hogwarts letter states that students may bring

Quote:
un hibou OU un chat OU un crapaud
When Harry buys Hedwig, we find the following passage:

Quote:
Harry sortit du magasin de hiboux avec une grande cage a l'interieur de laquelle une magnifique chouette aux plumes blanches comme la neige dormait paisaiblement, la tete sous l'aile.
And another bit pertaining to owls for your reading pleasure:

Quote:
Harry restait donc dans sa chambre en compagnie de sa chouette qu'il avait baptisee Hedwige, un nom trouve dans son Histoire de la magie.
Cute book, btw, and definitely worth reading, if only to giggle over the Chocogrenouilles, Poudlard, and Drago Malefoy.
#48
Old 06-22-2005, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonius Block
Just like l'hibou and la chouette both translate as "owl", there are two words in French for the bird that English speakers call a "seagull": le goéland and la mouette.
As far as I can tell from the species list, the larger, heavier species of gulls are called goelands, while the smaller, more delicate species are called mouettes. Both terms are used to refer to species in the genus Larus -- all goelands belong to this genus, while mouettes include species in Larus as well as other genera. Most, but not all, mouettes have black heads, while all goelands have white heads.

Most terns are called sternes, but some are called guifettes or noddis.
#49
Old 06-22-2005, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonius Block
Just like l'hibou and la chouette both translate as "owl", there are two words in French for the bird that English speakers call a "seagull": le goéland and la mouette.
Nitpick: it's le hibou. The "h" in the word is "aspired", which means that we cannot drop the "e" in the article, and also means that the word is probably of Germanic origin.

As for goélands vs. mouettes, I didn't know the difference either, but I checked in a dictionary on the Web and it seems that goélands are simply bigger birds than mouettes. (And to confuse things they use the orthography goëland.) That's pretty much what Colibri was saying. Personally, I usually use mouette to refer to a seagull, and around here most of them have a white head.
#50
Old 06-22-2005, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
Perhaps, but what is chouette supposed to be a diminutive of?
Apparently, the word "chouette" comes from the old French word for its cry: "choeter" (in modern French, la chouette chuinte). cite

If I'm reading this right, the word seems to derive from a Gaulish onomatopoeia kaw-, which gives rise to the English word "chough" (related to the crow), and chevêche (another kind of owl, via Low Latin cavannus).

If you're wondering, "chouette" in the sense of "cool" apparently comes from "choeter" with a slang sense of "to flirt."

Hibou apparently comes from Norman "houbou," a deformation of Latin "bubo," in turn from "ululare," an onomatopoeic word meaning to wail. English "owl" comes from the Germanic "ule," and I don't know if ule and ululare are related or if they are just imitating the same sound.

"Harfang" appears to be a Swedish word originally.


FWIW,
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