Flame of the woods

Gold finch from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheedypj/4176105819/in/photostream

Lasair choille or ‘flame of the woods’ is the Irish name for the goldfinch (carduelis carduelis), two of which I saw on my apple tree this morning. I like to know the names of birds and other creatures in the my languages, and particularly liked the Irish version when I discovered it.

The Irish word lasair means flame or blame comes from las (to light, inflame, ignite, blush). It probably shares the same root as the English word lamp, which comes from the French word lampe, from the Latin lampas, from the Greek λαμπάς (to shine).

In Welsh the goldfinch is known as nico, but has many other names, including jac nico, teiliwr llundain (London tailor), peneuryn (head gold jewel?), eurbinc (gold pink), pobliw (every colour), soldiwr bach y werddon (little soldier of the green place/oasis), cnot, ysnoden felen (yellow band) and asgell aur (gold wing).

The English word finch comes from the Old English finc, possibly from the Old Germanic *finki-z or finkjon, which is thought to be of echoic origin.

Names for the goldfinch in many other languages can be found on the avibase.

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Greek, Irish, Language, Latin, Welsh, Words and phrases.

3 Responses to Flame of the woods

  1. Petréa Mitchell says:

    The Japanese name goshiki-hiwa means roughly “every-colored finch”. (Literally, 五色 goshiki means “five-colored”, referring to the five canonical colors in Chinese tradition.)

  2. Giulia says:

    Hi! Your blog has been nominated for our Top 100 Language Lovers 2011 competition.
    Read more here: http://www.lexiophiles.com/featured-articles/top-100-language-lovers-2011-competition-starts-today-%E2%80%93-nominate-your-favorite
    Good luck!
    Giulia – On behalf of the bab.la and Lexiophiles team

  3. Yenlit says:

    You can see why there was ever a need for the binomial Linnaean taxonomy when there are so many dialectal variations for birds eg. a goldfinch or ‘gowdspink’ (Scots) or ‘pink’ (Northern Ireland).
    Welsh ‘eurbinc’ is a calque of goldfinch not ‘gold pink’, finch is pinc in Welsh same as the colour.