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#88435 - 12/03/02 07:06 AM Merganser
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
This is not so much a question as an observation about a definition I read yesterday:

Merganser: a diving duck

Now this amused me because, if you look at the definition as being generic rather than specific, it would mean any diving duck would be a merganser.

You gotta be a pretty careful merganser when going after definitions. Definitions can be wily things when you bring 'em to the surface. They can get away from you!


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#88436 - 12/03/02 07:16 AM Kookaburra
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
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When I was just a sprout we had a story we read in an English class. The story took place in Australia and had a kookaburra in it. The glossary at the end of the story defined the kookaburra as a laughing jackass. This is/was a slang phrase for the bird which has a call that sounds like the braying of an ass. In a quiz we were asked to define the word kookaburra. I was the only person who was interested enough to have noticed that the creature was, in fact, a bird. This includes the teacher. I was told that my answer was wrong.


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#88437 - 12/03/02 07:21 AM Re: Kookaburra
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
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Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Did you define kookaburra as "a laughing jackass" or something like "a bird that is a laughing jackass"? It's hard to believe that you teacher wouldn't have known the kookaburra is a bird.

Still, imagine some chortling yokel taking a deep dive and someone in the crowd watching him saying, "That merganser is a kookaburra."

See, Faldage? We understand each other!


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#88438 - 12/03/02 07:25 AM Re: Merganser's diet
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
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Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
"The winter diet of brant consists mainly of eelgrass, but includes sea lettuce and
sea cabbage. The summer diet includes grasses, algae, mosses, other plants, and
marine invertebrates."

OK. To learn more about this red-footed duck, I read a general reference on
Google and the above phrase. I hadn't seen the word brant before, so looked it up.
It means a type of goose. The merganser is a duck. So why is that word brant there?
Beats me. I'll go look up the url to the article and past it below in a minute.

http://www.ducks.org/waterfowling/gallery/index.asp?duck=79


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#88439 - 12/03/02 09:05 AM Re: Merganser's diet
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
When is a goose a duck? When it's a merganser. Merganser is literally "sea goose".
Ein gut gebratene Gans ist eine gute Gabe Gottes.

P.S. Oh, dear. Wordwi;nd has caught me committing a folk etymology.
When a duck do? it submerges.

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#88440 - 12/03/02 09:12 AM Re: Merganser's diet
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
The source below doesn't indicate that the merganser is a sea goose, but a diving goose (thought it's really a duck--and I have no idea what makes a duck a duck and a goose a gooose):

"1. merganser [n.]
|ETYM| Spanish <mergánsar>, from <mergo> a diver (Latin <mergus>, from <mergere> to
dip, dive)
+ <ánsar> goose, Latin <anser>. , Large crested fish-eating diving duck having a
slender hooked bill with serrated edges; <SYN.> fish duck, sawbill, sheldrake.
2. hooded merganser [n.]
Small North American duck with a high circular crest on the male's head; <SYN.> hooded
sheldrake, Lophodytes cucullatus.
3. American merganser [n.]
Common North American diving duck considered a variety of the European goosander;
<Also called:> Mergus merganser americanus.
4. red-breasted merganser [n.]
Widely distributed merganser of America and Europe; <SYN.> Mergus serrator. "


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#88441 - 12/03/02 09:26 AM Re: Kookaburra
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783


I got just one question:

Huh?



All seriousness aside, the defintion in the book was a laughing jackass, just that, no more. The important lesson that I did not learn (and I now realize the error of my ways) was that what I was supposed to do was to regurgitate, unprocessed, whatever it was that the teacher thought was correct.

Mea culpa(to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Mea culpa,
mea culpa,
mea ma
xima cul
pa mea maxima
culpa mea maxi
ma culpa
ma culpa.


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#88442 - 12/03/02 09:30 AM Re: Kookaburra
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Faldage,

You implied that you were the only one who realized the kookaburra was a bird.

I still don't understand what your answer was. Did you reply that the kookaburra was a laughing jackass or did you reply that the kookaburra was a bird--or even both? In other words, what was your answer that your teacher believed was incorrect?


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#88443 - 12/03/02 09:37 AM Re: Kookaburra
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
And you said we understood each other. Harrumph!®

I said that the kookaburra was a bird. The definition in the glossary associated with the story said that a kookaburra was a laughing jackass. I don't remember the story per se but I do remember that I was able to figure out that it was a bird. Whether from context in the story or from some outside reference I don't remember. The lesson I *did learn (not the above referenced lesson that I was *supposed to learn) was that authority is not always correct. This means that I will always ask, "Why question Authority?"


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#88444 - 12/03/02 09:37 AM Re: Kookaburra
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Does "xima cul" mean "baissez moi la derriere"?


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