Juliet’s rhetorical question to Romeo in the balcony scene from Shakespeare’s play is one of the Bard’s most quoted and abused lines of poetry. She may be a Capulet and he a Montague, but she loves him nonetheless.
A sage contributor invoked this line in a recent discussion around news that the proposal to rename two birds found in South Africa – the Hottentot Teal and the Hottentot Buttonquail – had been approved by the naming committee of BirdLife South Africa and the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The new names appear in IOC version 11.1, which was published in January 2021. And while it is true that what we now call a Bluebilled Teal would be as beautiful by any other name, it is also true that there is, in fact, a lot in a name.
For some birders, the change of names represents nothing more than political correctness run wild, a vain project of ‘verbal cleansing’ by leftist intellectuals, to quote conservative writer Thomas Sowell.
The simple truth, however, is that the word ‘Hottentot’ is offensive and always was. Intentionally so. It was a term coined by Dutch settlers that mimicked the rhythms and sounds of indigenous language families such as Khoe, Kx’a and Tuu. The settlers’ inability to understand the languages meant they were, to European ears, not languages at all but rather the mere ‘clucking of turkeys’. And so ‘Hottentot’ became a term of indiscriminate dismissal of a number of distinct indigenous cultures. In a widely circulated mail on the topic, Professor Adrian Koopman has provided a dense overview of the origins of the word ‘Hottentot’ and its use in bird guides of the 20th century in particular.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Canon’s R6 and R5 camera bodies
FORCE of nature
During the past five or so years, Cape-based photographer Peter Chadwick has focused his conservation work on supporting counter-poaching efforts, developing conservation and re-introduction strategies for high-risk and endangered species and cultivating marine and terrestrial conservation teams. While doing this work throughout the African continent and the Western Indian Ocean, Peter has used his conservation photojournalism to raise awareness and garner support for the various causes he works on. A multiaward-winning cameraman, he is a Senior Fellow and Executive Member of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Coral trees (Erythrina species) are found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, including in southern Africa where nine species occur.
proudly SOUTH AFRICAN
Founded in February 2020, the South Africa Listers’ Club is a community of birders who have recorded 300 or more species within the borders of South Africa. As a protector of the country’s birds, BirdLife South Africa is enthusiastic about encouraging a #ProudlySouthAfrican approach to birding.
Accipiters and Cape Buzzards breeding on the Cape Peninsula
The Magic Beaks Of Stone Birds
Discovering an ancient avian superpower
Hidden Treasure Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Despite being the largest owl species in the region and sporting characteristic bright pink eyelids, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls Bubo lacteus can be surprisingly difficult to find in the wild. It was a colleague of mine, Callum Evans, who first pointed out an eagle-owl nest to me on 1 August 2020 in Mawana Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. I had seen an adult and a sub-adult in the vicinity a few days before and had thought there might be a nest somewhere, but I hadn’t been able to locate it.
What's In A Name?
Introducing the Blue-billed Teal and Fynbos Buttonquail
The Place Of Wonder
Birding in iSimangaliso Wetland Park and St Lucia
Madagascar What's So Special?
A typical person knows nothing about Madagascar beyond an awareness of the animated movies of that name and a resulting conviction that the country gives refuge to penguins. Africans do slightly better.