Monday, 25 January 2010

A Bird's Eye View

I went to a art museum on Sunday afternoon. Not surprising or out of the ordinary for me, and as usual my fellow museum-nerd buddy and I had a great time - having to remind each other to look at the actual objects and not just the display techniques, dissecting the exhibits, and chatting about just about everything.

Two hanging picture scrolls got us talking about differences between English and Japanese. For example, the Japanese hato (鳩) translates into English as both "dove" and "pigeon." In Japanese, while many different types exist with different names, the two birds are not largely differentiated between (as based on the opinions of the three Japanese friends I went with, feel free to disagree) but in English, however, there is most definitely a differentiation! Common pigeons can be called the rat of the bird world and are often considered dirty pests while white doves are a symbol of peace. On the flip side, the English "duck" covers two terms in Japanese - kamo (鴨, sometimes translated as "wild duck") and ahiru (アヒル).

And then there is the "three-coloured ware horse" which I know isn't Japanese, but still doesn't look like English to me!


  1. Where are the photos for this interesting entry? I especially like Peking duck...
    love, Cath

  2. No pictures as none are allowed in the museum!

    Mmmm... peking duck!!! mmm...

  3. Remember when I told that ex of mine that we should have doves at the wedding and he said that they are really good because pigeons/doves- in Hindi they are known by one name- and cut their throats and drink their blood while having a stroke/heart attack you will have a better chance of survival- thus it is indeed good to have doves at weddings as a first-aid back-up when you have that many people around. And thus ended any romantic notions I had about the pretty white birds.

  4. Liz - Lovely. Just lovely. (shudder)

  5. When you get together with my parents, you can request a restaurant with good peking duck! love, C