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The crow family in English and in Esperanto

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Anna Lowenstein

Anna Lowenstein prezentas ene de nur kelkaj vortoj la familion korvan. Por faciligi la klarigadon, ni prezentas ŝian esploradon anglalingve.

What is the difference between a crow and a raven? In Esperanto, ‘crow’ is korvo, but how do you say ‘raven’? According to Wells’s dictionary, ‘raven’ is simply (granda) korvo. In fact there is no real difference between crows and ravens. The crow family is an extensive one, widely distributed in all continents, and several of the larger species of crow are known as ravens in English. So korvo, granda korvo or korvego are all suitable translations in Esperanto for the English word ‘raven’.

One of the largest types of crow is the common raven, which is nigra korvo or korako in Esperanto. The Esperanto word korako refers specifically to the common raven, but as we have seen, various types of crow may be called ravens in English. Korako would not be the correct term for these.

Other members of the crow family, all with black plumage in various shades, are the rooks and the carrion crow. The rook is frugilego or kampokorvo in Esperanto. Frugilego comes from its Latin name frugilegus, which means ‘fruit gathering’. The carrion crow is korniko in Esperanto.

What about jackdaws and magpies? Both are known in popular culture for being attracted to bright objects and stealing them to decorate their nests. Jackdaws are among the smallest members of the crow family, and Wells translates their name as korveto or monedo. Jackdaws are black, but magpies have distinctive white and black plumage. Their name is Esperanto is pigo.

Don’t confuse pigo with pego, a woodpecker (which is not, by the way, a member of the crow family). It is easy to remember the difference, as pego sounds similar to the second syllable of the English word ‘woodpecker’, while pigo has the i of ‘magpie’.

And what is a jay? This is another member of the crow family, rather more colourful than the others, with numerous species, some of which are related to the magpies. Wells gives garolo for this bird.

Lastly I will mention one more bird which because of its black plumage (at least in the males) might be thought to be a member of the crow family, but in fact belongs to the thrushes (turdoj). This is the common blackbird or merlo in Esperanto.

Ĉi tiu artikolo aperis en La Brita Esperantisto de printempo 2018.

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