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Birds Perched in The Tree of Language

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Birds inhabit many English words and phrases. The flower called larkspur is named for the way its blossom resembles the spur on the toe of a lark. Columbine derives from Latin columba, “dove,” a reference to the way this flower resembles doves huddled together. The coccyx, or tailbone takes its name from the Greek word for “cuckoo bird” because it’s shaped like a cuckoo’s beak. We speak of pecking order, nest egg, taking someone under one’s wing, and sometimes refer to a person’s nose or mouth as their beak. A lovely Spanish proverb goes La fe es el pájaro que siente la luz cuando el alba aún está oscura or “Faith is the bird that feels the light while the dawn is still dark.” This is part of a complete episode.

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