Scots, Birds, and Names
On Strange Maps, I found the following piece of concrete poetry: A Chaffinch Map of Scotland, by Edwin Morgan.
"The chaffinch is "a most common of European finch species is noted for its powerful and typical song. Chaffinches have an innate ability to sing, but also adapt to the songs of ‘teachers’ in their vicinity. This explains the curious incidence of regional variation in their song, a trait their song shares with human speech. This poem is a map of Scotland, or at least those areas in Scotland where the chaffinch is endemic. It shows the different names used in Scottish dialects for chaffinch, varying from chaffinch in the north over shielyfaw in the middle to britchie." (Strange Maps).
Gorgeous! even more so if you consider that variations in the birds' names might reflect variations in the birds' songs. After all, many species of birds are named after their most typical song. Since the birds' dialect is itself culturally transmitted, then the distribution of birds' names would be influenced, simultaneously, by animal-to-animal cultural transmission (songs being copied from one bird to the other), animal-to-human transmission (birds being named after their song), and human-to-human transmission (people naming birds after the fashion of their country).