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Animal and Plant Names.

A forum for discussing US dialects (accents).

Animal and Plant Names.

Postby noid » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:45 pm

I grew up in a place where many plants and animals were called by names I've not heard them called anywhere else. For example, the generic word "greenbrier" for species of Smilax was unkown, and the word "bamboo" was used exclusively. One species of greenbrier is called "bamboo brier" pretty universally, but almost nobody I've met anywhere knows this. Of course "bamboo" was also understood in the ordinary sense, the meaning left to be inferred from context: do you have a big bleeding wound from the plant or don't you? Also, the bird that most people know as a towhee was called a "joree". I can come up with more if anybody is interested.

I'm interested in three things:

1) how widespread are these particular names? I now live only 125 miles from where I grew up and nobody here knows what a joree or a bamboo (sense 1) is.

2) In general, how widespread is the phenomenon of extremely localized names?

3) How do some names of fairly common objects become almost universal (think "robin") and others get such dialectical names ("joree")?
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Postby Bailey » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:19 pm

Confusion here, what kind of Bamboo has thorns or briars on it? Where are you from? :lol: by this I mean what planet. just kidding.

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Postby noid » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:59 am

Maybe my wording was clumsy. There are at least 10 species of Smilax in the southeast. Several, but not all, have alleged common names. Usually these are things like "sweetbrier" or "bullbrier" or "wild sarsparilla", but one species, S. laurifolia is supposed to have the common name "bamboo" or (less commonly) "bamboo brier". So this is the only sense in which a "bamboo" has briers. The word was also used in my area to refer to true bamboo.

But all these common names are irrelevant because to a first approximation nobody on earth is able or even inclined to identify a greenbrier to species. Most people simply call them by the collecvtive common name "greenbrier" regardless of species. But in my hometown the collective name was "bamboo", a word I have never heard elsewhere (except in field guides) to refer to any .Smilax
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Postby Bailey » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:03 pm

I see the problem, real bamboo is bamboo, but the S. Laurifolia is just called bamboo.

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Postby tcward » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:55 pm

There are a few different species of greenbrier around these parts (Piedmont of NC). Here it's commonly called "natural barbed-wire"... ;)

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