Earth names for Pax plants and animals


At Stack Exchange, in the Science Fiction and Fantasy website, someone asked which if any of the plants and animals mentioned in the book came from Earth. Many have Earth names: eagles, tulips, bats, pineapples, corals, cactus, lettuce, etc.

The answer: None came from Earth. But I imagined that Pax colonists would do what European colonists did when they came to the Americas: sometimes they gave names to things that reminded them of what they had left behind — even though they were not the same thing.

Here are some examples of how confused we are in the English language regarding bird names as a result of that homesickness.

The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a small Old World flycatcher with a lovely song.

The American robin (Erithacus rubecula) is a thrush that shares orange-red coloration on its breast with the Old World bird, but otherwise is entirely different. Like all thrushes, it sings beautifully.

The common Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula) is also a thrush. In fact, from what I’ve seen, it’s almost indistinguishable from an American robin except for its color. It eats worms, sings just as beautifully, is the same size, behaves the same, and is equally a delight to have in the neighborhood.

The New World blackbird might be one of several species. Here in Chicago, the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is common in spring, summer, and fall, and its song, “kong-a-REE,” reminds me of something that Glassmakers might say.

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