fish and fly

I guess I am not the only one who wonders why in English “fish” stands for “some creature which lives in water” and “fly” means “a flying insect”, with no regard to taxonomy whatsoever. Crayfish (crustacean), cuttlefish (cephalopod mollusc) and starfish (echinoderm) look nothing like fish. Accordingly, in many European languages, they have names which have nothing to do with fish.

English fish crayfish cuttlefish jellyfish starfish
French poisson écrevisse seiche méduse étoile de mer
German Fisch Flusskrebs Sepie Qualle Seestern
Portuguese peixe lagostim choco medusa estrela-do-mar
Russian рыба рак каракатица медуза морская звезда
Spanish pez cangrejo de río sepia medusa estrella de mar

Similarly, butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies are very different from flies. Damselflies and dragonflies belong to the order Odonata, but their kinship is only reflected in German language: both Prachtlibellen and Großlibellen are Libellen. I like the best the Spanish name for damselfly, caballito del diablo (literally, “devil’s little horse”).

English fly butterfly damselfly dragonfly
French mouche papillon de jour demoiselle libellule
German Fliege Schmetterling Prachtlibelle Großlibelle
Portuguese mosca borboleta donzelinha libelinha
Russian муха бабочка красотка стрекоза
Spanish mosca mariposa caballito del diablo libélula
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: