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Birding friends here have asked me how to pronounce "Scaup". Unfortunately I learned about birding here, mostly from native Spanish speakers, so I've picked up a lot of their mispronunciations and don't always know which is considered correct!

I've always assumed "Scaup" should be pronounced like "scalp" (I don't pronounce the l in scalp). But some locals say "scope" or "scoop". Now, "scalp" is very difficult for Spanish speakers to pronounce, so that alone could explain it. But - how do you pronounce it? Thanks!

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4 minutes ago, Melierax said:

I've only ever heard it pronounced like "scawp".

Ah - like the "a" sound in "hawk"? (That sound also doesn't exist in Spanish so would be hard for the natives too!)

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I say "scawp" (with "aw" sound like hawk), but I've heard some people say "scOWp", (with "ow" sound like owl).

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19 minutes ago, akandula said:

I was doing OK until Prothonotary (had heard it pronounced correctly but still thought I was right, oh well).

If you look up Scaup pronunciation there are all of the versions, I am sticking with the majority here (I have enough problems with Greater versus Lesser to be too concerned).

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28 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

I've seen that before but it doesn't have Scaup 🤔

Yeah, just trying to help with other pronunciations :classic_smile:

"Skawp" is definitely the most common way of saying it. The problem is that in Spanish (I happen to know some myself), the spelling "scaup" would sound like "skowp." And a is never really followed by w in Spanish, nor is there really an "aw" sound in Spanish. The only way I could explain it to a Spanish speaker is "scop" or "skap." Not the most accurate pronunciation but good enough.

Edited by akandula

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4 hours ago, Melierax said:

I've only ever heard it pronounced like "scawp".

me too

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52 minutes ago, akandula said:

Yeah, just trying to help with other pronunciations :classic_smile:

"Skawp" is definitely the most common way of saying it. The problem is that in Spanish (I happen to know some myself), the spelling "scaup" would sound like "skowp." And a is never really followed by w in Spanish, nor is there really an "aw" sound in Spanish. The only way I could explain it to a Spanish speaker is "scop" or "skap." Not the most accurate pronunciation but good enough.

Yeah, here it would be more like "ska-oop" but with very quick pronunciation of the vowels and rapid transition. And yes, very hard to explain it to them; but when they ask me to say it for them to hear it would be nice to know the right way to say it LOL!

I had read that article before and had forgotten that nobody here pronounces "Jacana" they way they say; It's usually ja-KA-na, sometimes ha-KA-na. And thank goodness we don't see Pileated Woodpeckers around here! Prothonotary is one people just kind of give up on (but they're rare here too!)

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I've heard "scowp", as if it were German, but that's wrong.  There's nothing German about the word.  Go with the "hawk" vowel.

If you're trying to teach Spanish speakers to say it, I agree with @akandula that "scap" and "scop" are the closest.  But if you're teaching them English, maybe you should try to teach them English sounds that don't occur in Spanish?  What are you doing about "hawk"?  (Anyway, the biggest problem may be getting them not to say "escap".)

The official Mexican name seems to be "pato boludo", though the Spanish Wikipedia says "porrón bastardo", which I think is rude, and "porrón bola".  I don't know whether Guatemalans would want to use Mexican names.

The one Mexican trained as a naturalist who I've met used scientific names, which he pronounced in Spanish, e.g., Buteo jamaicensis with the "j" as in "José".

 

Edited by Jerry Friedman
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10 minutes ago, Jerry Friedman said:

The one Mexican trained as a naturalist who I've met used scientific names, which he pronounced in Spanish, e.g., Buteo jamaicensis with the "j" as in "José".

 

Just a linguistic observation, by the way--not making fun.

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Thanks for the observations @Jerry Friedman! The extent to which I try to teach proper pronunciation varies tremendously depending on the person and the situation. I don't correct anyone at all unless they ask me to, and if I don't even understand what name they're saying I limit myself to repeating it. Those who want further help or correction will ask. But a lot of people I hang out with are professional bird guides or are in training, so they tend to be very interested in learning the correct pronunciations and ask me to help them. I will go as far as teaching them the proper mouth position, etc. to pronounce the sounds if they want! Mayan language speakers generally do better, probably both because they are already bilingual (there is good evidence that learning a third language is easier than a second one) and because the Mayan languages have more vowel sounds than Spanish. But in the most recent case of the Scaup my friend asked me what the correct pronunciation is so he could hear me say it, and I didn't know!

Serious birders here use scientific names, and usually also English common names. Guides always use the English common names. The problem with common names in Spanish is they aren't standardized. It's not even an issue of Mexican vs Guatemalan names; they aren't even consistent within Guatemala. "Azulejo" is commonly used for both Eastern Bluebirds and Blue-Gray Tanagers; "Zanate" can be a Great-Tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, or Melodious Blackbird; and many people call female grackles "Zanates" but males "Clarineros" (and don't realize they are actually the same species). Even in general terms, "gorrión" can mean sparrow to some people and hummingbird to others. 

And yes, we do pronounce the scientific names as if they were Spanish (how do YOU pronounce "jamaicensis"? I also use the "J" from "José") and many birders prefer them because they are easier to pronounce (even if badly LOL!) than English names. Newbie birders and non-birders always ask for Spanish names, so we spend a lot of time explaining the issues with Spanish names.

But it can be a source of lots of fun! During the Christmas Bird Count in Panajachel in January one of my teammates (the one who asked me how to pronounce "Scaup") kept saying Dusky-Capped Flycatcher more like "Dus -- kycapped Flycatcher", pausing after the "dus" and linking the "-ky" with the "capped". I kept hearing it as "dos Kikab' Flycatchers", Kikab' being the Mayan name of the son of a mutual friend! It took me a few seconds to process that it was (one) Dusky-Capped, and not two Kikab' Flycatchers! We both had a good laugh and my friend started very carefully saying "Dus---ky (long pause) CAP" Flycatcher!

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9 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

(Anyway, the biggest problem may be getting them not to say "escap".)

My trick for that (when people ask me for help) is to tell them to pronounce a long "sssssssss" sound and then go into the rest of the word; that prevents the automatic "e" at the beginning. With practice they can learn it (just like we can learn to use very short vowels and roll "r" and "rr" correctly!)

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7 hours ago, Aveschapines said:

Thanks for the observations @Jerry Friedman! The extent to which I try to teach proper pronunciation varies tremendously depending on the person and the situation. I don't correct anyone at all unless they ask me to, and if I don't even understand what name they're saying I limit myself to repeating it. Those who want further help or correction will ask. But a lot of people I hang out with are professional bird guides or are in training, so they tend to be very interested in learning the correct pronunciations and ask me to help them. I will go as far as teaching them the proper mouth position, etc. to pronounce the sounds if they want! Mayan language speakers generally do better, probably both because they are already bilingual (there is good evidence that learning a third language is easier than a second one) and because the Mayan languages have more vowel sounds than Spanish. But in the most recent case of the Scaup my friend asked me what the correct pronunciation is so he could hear me say it, and I didn't know!

Serious birders here use scientific names, and usually also English common names. Guides always use the English common names. The problem with common names in Spanish is they aren't standardized. It's not even an issue of Mexican vs Guatemalan names; they aren't even consistent within Guatemala. "Azulejo" is commonly used for both Eastern Bluebirds and Blue-Gray Tanagers; "Zanate" can be a Great-Tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, or Melodious Blackbird; and many people call female grackles "Zanates" but males "Clarineros" (and don't realize they are actually the same species). Even in general terms, "gorrión" can mean sparrow to some people and hummingbird to others. 

And yes, we do pronounce the scientific names as if they were Spanish (how do YOU pronounce "jamaicensis"? I also use the "J" from "José") and many birders prefer them because they are easier to pronounce (even if badly LOL!) than English names. Newbie birders and non-birders always ask for Spanish names, so we spend a lot of time explaining the issues with Spanish names.

But it can be a source of lots of fun! During the Christmas Bird Count in Panajachel in January one of my teammates (the one who asked me how to pronounce "Scaup") kept saying Dusky-Capped Flycatcher more like "Dus -- kycapped Flycatcher", pausing after the "dus" and linking the "-ky" with the "capped". I kept hearing it as "dos Kikab' Flycatchers", Kikab' being the Mayan name of the son of a mutual friend! It took me a few seconds to process that it was (one) Dusky-Capped, and not two Kikab' Flycatchers! We both had a good laugh and my friend started very carefully saying "Dus---ky (long pause) CAP" Flycatcher!

Thanks for answering my questions.  Being able to teach people the right mouth positions for foreign sounds is very impressive.  I can do a Spanish r and rr, but if I'm ever in Guatemala and need to learn to pronounce b' as in "Kikab'", you'll hear from me!  And thanks for adding to my collection of Spanish words for "hummingbird".

I pronounce jamaicensis with an English "j".  When speaking Spanish or trying to I might be able to pronounce it with a Spanish "j", but I don't know any other reason to pronounce it that way.  When the Spanish got there it was apparently called xamayca, which I assume started with an "sh" sound or something similar.

There's definitely no standardization of Spanish common names, but in Mexico there is now a standard, it seems, whether many Mexicans know it or not.  I wondered whether that had gotten any traction with Guatemalan birders and guides, but from what you said, I guess it hasn't.

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Another common word for hummingbird here is "picaflor", which would roughly translate as flower poker. In K'iche' and some other Mayan languages it's "tzunun". 

Also I wouldn't really expect a lot of enthusiasm for Mexican common names; there is a sort of friendly rivalry, and we all complain when endemics get called Mexican (like the recent change from Green to Mexican Violetear). 

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