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Publications
Publications since 1969:
1969. Un recueil de noms alpins d’oiseaux. Bull. Murithienne 86: 68-78.
1971a. The Blackbird Turdus merula maxima in Nepal. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 67: 571-572.
1971b. Revision générique des Carduélidés. Oiseau et Rev. française Orn. 41: 130-147.
1971c. Articles: Bluebird, Cardinal, Choughs, Ptarmigans, Dippers, Nutcrackers in Elsevier’s Animal Encyclopedia.
1972. Tibetan Twite Acanthis flavirostris in Nepal. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 68: 832.
1974a. A new subspecies of Accipiter tachiro. Bull. British Orn. Cl. 94: 69-71.
1974b. More Cuckoo problems. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 71: 145-146.
1975. Birds from Ethiopia. Rev. Africaine Zool. 89: 505-551.
1978. Notes on habitat and distribution of montane birds in southern Iran. Bonner Zool. Beitr. 29: 18-37.
1966-1970. Rédaction de cinq volumes du Handbook of Indian birds” de Salim Ali et S.D. Ripley (Oxford University Press, 10 volumes).
1970-1974. Rédaction partielle (1/2) de “Rails of the World” de S.D. Ripley. (David A. Godine, Boston).
1974-1977. Revision entière de “Synopsis of the birds of India and Pakistan” de S.D. Ripley.
1980. Version française de “Birds of North America” de Robbins, Brujn, Zim and Singer: Guide des oiseaux d’Amérique du Nord (Delachaux & Niestlé).
1984. Flore aquatique du Valais et du Chablais vaudois. Bull. Murithienne 102: 3-97.
1986a. Espèces nouvelles pour la flore du Val d’Aoste. Rev. valdôtaine Hist. nat. 39.
1986b. Inventaire des oiseaux du Valais: Mise-à-jour 1986. Bull. Murithienne 104: 3-23.
1987. Evidence for the ancient presence of the Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita in Greece. Bull. British Orn. Cl. 107 (3): 93-94.
1988. Espèces nouvelles ou peu observées pour la flore du Val d’Aoste: Deuxième contribution. Rev. Valdôtaine Hist. Nat. 42: 105-111.
1990 (1989). La vigne sauvage en Valais. Bull. Murithienne 107: 161-165.
1994a. Appunti floristici sulle acque del Trentino e territori circostanti. Ann. Mus. civici. Rovereto 10: 223-248.
1994b. Flore des lacs, étangs et marais de Haute-Savoie. Saussurea 25: 25-62.
1996. Flore aquatique et palustre du Valais et du Chablais vaudois. Les Cahiers de Sciences naturelles No. 1: 1-167. Sion.
1997. Mazus pumilus (Scrophulariaceae), adventice nouvelle pour l’Italie, et Lemna minuta (Lemnaceae) espèce nouvelle pour la province de Pavie. Saussurea 28: 65-66.
1997. Arlettaz, Raphaël, Alain Lugon, Antoine Sierro & Michel Desfayes. Les chauves-souris du Valais (Suisse): statut, zoogéographie et écologie. Le Rhinolophe 12: 1-42 (1996).
1998a. A Thesaurus of Bird Names. Etymology of european Lexis through Paradigms. Volume I : The names of birds, 1246 pp. Volume II : The paradigms, 1286 pp. Museum of Natural History, Sion, Switzerland - ISBN - 2-88-426-025-0. CD-rom with illustrations and sounds (1998), corrected and updated 2008.
1998b. Trésor de noms d’oiseaux. Etymologie du lexique européen par les paradigmes. I. Les noms d’oiseaux, 1246 pages. II. Les paradigmes, 1286 pages. CD-Rom illustré et sonorisé. Musée cantonal d’histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse, ISBN 2.88426-025-0.
1998c. Arlettaz, Raphaël, Guy Berthoud & Michel Desfayes. Tendances démographiques opposées chez deux espèces sympatriques de chauves-souris, Rhinolophus hipposideros et Pipistrellus pipistrellus: un possible lien de cause à effet ? Le Rhinolophe 13: 35-41.
2000b. Index des noms scientifiques et des lieux-dits cités dans la monographie botanique de Gams, Helmut, 1927: Von den Follatères sur Dent de Morcles. Les Cahiers d’histoire naturelle 5. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse.
2002. Noms dialectaux des végétaux du Valais romand. Bull. Murithienne 120: 57-111.
2004. The specific status of Cyperus badius Desf., and the subspecies of Scirpoides holoschoenus (L.) Soják, with special reference to Sardinia. Flora Mediterranea 14: 173-188.
2005a. Origin of the male and female symbols in biology. Rivista di Biologia – Biology Forum.
2005b. Données floristiques pour le Piémont et ses rizières, et pour la Lombardie voisine: plantes aquatiques et palustres. Riv. Piemontese St. Naturale 26: 73-100.
2005c. Additions to the vascular flora of Albania. Annali di Botanica, n. ser. vol. 4: 155-158.
2008a. Les opuntias du Valais: un problème épineux. Bulletin de la Murithienne 125: 29-39 (2007). Sion, Suisse.
2008b.Flore aquatique du Valais et du Chablais vaudois: additions. Bulletin de la Murithienne, 125: 100-124 (2007). Sion, Suisse.
2008c. Flore vasculaire herbacée des eaux douces et des milieux humides de la Sardaigne. Flora Mediterranea 18:247-331.
2011. Ranunculus aquatilis L., specie da escludere dalla flora italiana. Informatore Botanico Italiano 43(1): 131.
Books:
2000. Origine des noms des oiseaux et des mammifères d’Europe, y compris l’espèce humaine. 200 pages. Editions Pillet, Saint-Maurice, Suisse. ISBN 2-940145-26-1
2008. Origin of English names of European birds and mammals, including the human species. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse. ISBN 2-88426-057-9
2008. Origen de los nombres españoles, portugueses y catalanes de las aves y de los mamíferos de Europa, incluido la especie humana. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse. ISBN 2-88426-058-7
2008. Origine degli nomi in italiano degli uccelli e degli mammiferi d’Europa, compresi quelli relativi alla specie umana. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse.ISBN 2-88426-059-5
2008. Origine des noms rhéto-romanches des oiseaux et des mammifères d’Europe, y compris l’espèce humaine. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse. ISBN 2-88426-060-9
2008. Originea numelor româneşti ale păsărilor şi mamiferelor europei incluzând specia umană. Musée cantonal d’Histoire naturelle, Sion, Suisse. ISBN 2-88426-064-1
Reviews:

1. From The Auk, Journal of the American Ornithologists' Union:
A Thesaurus of Bird Names: Etymology of European Lexis Through Paradigms - Michel Desfayes. 1998. Musée Cantonal d'Histoire Naturelle, Sion, Switzerland. Two volumes, 1240 + 1288 pages, CD-ROM. ISBN 2-88426-021-8.
This monumental work deals not with scientific names or "Linnaean" nomenclature, but with names for birds that exist in other than the scientific idiom - the so-called "common" or "folk" names for birds. The first volume is a compilation of such names for all of the species of European and Middle Eastern birds, plus a few others that are almost universally known, such as the domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) and the Ostrich (Struthio camelus). Unfortunately, the introductory material does not clearly state or list which languages are included, but most of them appear in the list of abbreviations. Names for birds have been sought in Indo-European languages including "Iranian, Caucasian, and Hamito-Semitic languages" because "the area covered by these languages includes the Palaearctic region, a zoogeographical entity within which can be found most of the European bird species..." Names in Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian are omitted because they are not Indo-European languages. Names from languages written with different alphabet characters, such as Cyrillic, Hebrew, and Greek, are transliterated with Roman characters.
The first volume proceeds species by species, with each account consisting of a list of names, given language by language, arranged in a geographical sequence more or less from the northwest (British Isles) to the south and east. All names that the author could discover are presented along with information on the counties or provinces in which each name, no matter how local, is used. The amount of detail is staggering. The section on names for the Magpie (Pica pica), for example, comprises 13 pages, of which more than 6 deal only with names used in Germany. Being Swiss, with an interest in etymology, Desfayes naturally has several languages at his command and has written his book using more than one. In the species accounts, explanatory remarks are generally in French, except for names from the British Isles, for which English is used. Remarks about German names seem to be in either German or English. Definitions in Volume Two may be in either English or French. Anyone who is linguistically challenged would have considerable difficulty using this work, but would have little need for it in any case.
The second volume is less easily characterized. About two-thirds of it consists of what Desfayes refers to as his "paradigms" (Appendices 3-14). Here, names or the words used in names, along with various cognates (or perhaps pseudocognates), are arranged according to qualities, somewhat in the manner of the familiar Roget's Thesaurus of English words. The major groupings include terms of chromatic origin (e.g. red, dark, spotted), morphological (e.g. tall, tufted, swollen), acoustic (mostly onomatopoeic), kinetic (e.g. fly, wag, dive), and others.
The ultimate subheadings are combinations of sounds used in words that Desfayes identifies as being related to a given quality. Thus, section 3.2.54.2 is a list of words that contain the sounds "r-p" and mean "red", including the Greek, Latin, English, Czech and other words for turnip (rapys, rapa, rape, repka). The list also contains a Russian word for menstrues (repaki), Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Ukranian and other words for linnet, robin, and whinchat (repka, rzepoluch, repel, repalsic), and a French word for the caruncles of a turkey (roupie), among others.
There are fascinating diversions to be encountered here. For example, we learn that the traditional (and believable) derivation of "belladonna" is folk etymology, and that "mayonnaise" according to Desfayes, is related to words meaning flecked or spotted, and is not derived from the siege of Port Mah6n, Minorca, as given in many etymologies. These paradigms will be of as much interest to philologists and ethnolinguists as they may be to ornithologists. That great erudition, maybe even genius, has been exercised in their compilation is scarcely to be doubted, though I cannot shake off the impression that they may reflect considerable idiosyncrasy as well.
The second volume also contains various other lists of bird names, including those in ancient languages, words for nests, eggs, and bats, terms used in falconry, and bird names from "overseas francophone countries" and Latin America.
There is no index, because this would have added more than 700 pages to the work. The CD-ROM, therefore, is an absolute necessity. If, for example, one encountered an unknown word for some European bird and wanted to know to what species it applied, there would be no practical way to find it without searching the text with a computer. I have little doubt that it would be found, however. Michel Desfayes has presented us with a labor of love of such scope as to leave thoughtful reviewers with a lingering sense of their own deficiencies.
Storrs L. Olson, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA. E-mail: olson.storrs@nmnh.si.edu. The Auk, Organ of the American Ornithologists' Union, 118 (3):815-816, 2001.
2. From the Ibis, International Journal of Avian Science:
DESFAYES, M. A Thesaurus of Bird Names. Etymology of European Lexis through Paradigms, Vol. 1: The Names of Birds, Volume Il: The Paradigms. 1240 & 1288 pages. Les Cahiers de Sciences Naturelles, No. 2. Sion, Switzerland.- Musée Cantonal d’Histoire Naturelle and La Murithienne, Société Valaisanne des Sciences Naturelles, 1998. Also available as a CD-rom with illustrations and some sound recordings. Sion: Icare, 1999. Volume 1 ISBN 2-88426-022-6, French edition ISBN 2-88426-026-9. Volume II, ISBN 2-88426-023-4.
A bird by any other name... These two massive and magnificent volumes contain around 100 000 bird names in 40 or so Indo-European languages. About 450 European and Middle Eastern species, with a few well-known introduced birds - chicken, turkey, etc. - are covered in Volume 1. Within each species, the names are listed by language from Irish Gaelic east to the Indo-European languages of Afghanistan and neighbouring regions, then Caucasian and Hamito-Semitic (Hebrew, Arabic, etc.) and finally Romany (Gypsy). The modern language groups involved are thus Celtic, Romance, Slavonic, Lettic (Baltic), Germanic, Albanian, Greek, Iranian, the enigmatic Basque tongue, Hamito-Semitic and Caucasian. There are cross-references within each group of names to appendices in Volume II and species numbers in Volume I. The breadth and depth of coverage is truly astonishing: for example, out of 13 pages of names for the Magpie Pica pica, seven pages are dedicated to German appellations, and among 20 pages for the Wren Troglodytes troglodytes, five focus on French names, prominent among which is roitelet ('kinglet') now appropriated for Regulus. Working on the premise that local speech, the true 'fossils' of vocabulary, is of pre-eminent importance for etymological research, the author also deals in masterly fashion with names in the dialects of English.
Preceding the all-important paradigms in Volume II is an appendix of bird names in ancient languages and one giving the sources of scientific names borrowed from Greek, Latin or regional speech, also a subsection on unidentified species (21 languages)
The paradigms (or filiations) attempt to show in family trees of words the semantic relationships of groups of European terms (bird names and many others), thus allowing models or structures to be studied rather than isolated words and clearly demonstrating that almost all roots are common to all major groups of European languages, often even to some outside Europe. Appendices 3-6 cover, respectively, paradigms of terms of chromatic (claimed to be the most complete collection of colour words ever compiled), morphological, acoustic and kinetic origin. The following topics are dealt with in appendices 7-15: arm, wing, articulation; to seize or capture; smallness; diving and swimming birds, various ways of diving; flight and lightness; circle and birds (i.e. rotund or circling in the air); names for 'bird'; miscellaneous names (nestling, feather, flock, etc.); lexicons of falconry, etc. More than 2000 bat names are given in Appendix 16, the names of over 1000 bird species from francophone overseas countries in Appendix 17 and some 8000 Latin-American names (Spanish, Portuguese and Amerindian) for 1700 species in Appendix 18.
This book is a stupendous achievement, a philological tour de force, a celebration of birds, and of man's relationship with nature, expressed through the wondrous gift of language; it is endlessly entertaining, instructive and illuminating. A few moments of browsing and you are likely to get hooked; when it comes to word search, the CD-rom is recommended.
M.G. Wilson. Ibis, The International Journal of Avian Science, 142: 333-334, 2000
(underscoring is mine)
3. From the Journal of Indo-European Studies:
Michel Desfayes. A Thesaurus of Bird Names - Etymology of European Lexis through Paradigms. Vol. I: The names of birds, vol. 2: The paradigms. Sion (Switzerland): Musée cantonal d'histoire naturelle/La Murithienne, Société Valaisanne des sciences naturelles, 1998; two bound volumes in-4o. of resp. 1240 & 1288 pages; ISBN 2-88426-022-6 & 2-88426-023-4.
Those two monunental volumes, accompanied by a CD, offer a repertory of bird names [ca. 460 species, with 100,000 apellations and variants in 30 languages. The author is a professional ornithologist who tries to sort out all the denominations and relevant etymologies, amassing a tremendous set of bibliographical references (60 pages) and sources [I nevertheless miss the detailed dictionary of Liège Walloon of J.Haust and the basic Dutch etymological dictionaries of Franck-van Wick, Vercoullie and J.de Vries]. He first provides us with a list of the birds he will examine and gives an exhaustive list of their names in Gaelic (Irish), Welsh, Cornish, Breton, English, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, French, Provençal, Catalan, Basque, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Rheto-Romance, Rurnanian, Greek, Albanian, Bu1garian, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Slovakian, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Bielorussian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Turkish, Maltese, Iranian, Kurdish, Afghan, Armenian, Georgian, Caucasian, Egyptian, Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic, Hebrew, etc. [the abbreviations are unchanged from the French edition]. In some cases, older IE languages are also taken into consideration, e.g. ancient Greek, Old Hindic, Old Prussian, etc. The word field of the animal names is covered extensively, including the sounds they make and other features such as crest, feathers, etc. Whenever possible, an abundance of dialectal terms are given, as well as nicknames [with their possible explanation], but then, the most common name is always underlined.
The second volume opens with a nomenclature of all the terms listed in the various languages in part I. General remarks in English and French precede the etymological compendium, whose first group deals with terms of 'chromatic' origin, such as *bVI- "shine, white" or *bVd- "dirty, bad." For Desfayes, etymology seems to consist merely in enumerating a list of assumed cognates, with practically no comment or conclusion [only sporadically brief remarks are inserted]. The problem of initial *b- in IE should have prompted him to look deeper into the matter; too many of his assumed bases are however synonymous [e.g. 'spotted with white' or 'shining'). In his treatment of the so-called 'morphological bases', he takes 'morphological' to designate shapes and features such as the tuft, the crest, point, convex, etc., or hurnped, rounded things, long bill, swollen, circle, etc. in listings from which the Etymologie des Gleichklangs is not always absent The same goes for his acoustic bases, though here onomatopoeia and such phenomena might easily be invoked. His dealing with linguistic features like the insertion of /v/ in the root *kVk- (p. 641) is sometimes rather puzzling. The next section deals with bases of kinetic origin and is in some cases more explicit about etymology, as in the case of Latin augur which is claimed to be related with Basque agur "farewell"; too often Desfayes relies on such 'authorities' as Klein or Lahovary! Then comes a set of terms meaning 'arm, wing, articulation' under alleged bases like *sVkV1- also occurring in river-names and other toponyms. Here, the author claims that Latin avis is an Iberian loanword. Other groups of words are gathered under the headings 'smallness,' 'diving and swimming,' 'flight and lightness,' 'circle and birds,' and the like. Further listings are devoted to the various names of the bird, also in its nest [including egg, shell, yolk, nestlings, etc.), of the feather, of the beak, of a flock of birds, etc. An extensive glossary of the French terminology of falconry and a short French lexicon of ornithology are supplied, besides mainly Gallo-Romance words meaning 'to chirp, peep,' etc. Notes on the names of the bat, and bird names from Francophone overseas countries, as well as Ibero-American bird names [from Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, Columbia, Guyana, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, etc.] conclude the volume.
All in all, this impressive work offers the linguist an invaluable collection of terms relating to birds and associated concepts. It endeavors to classify this huge lexical thesaurus semantically and provides an excellent overview. However, it is etymologically of very little use, though it presents an inexhaustible source for such linguistic efforts.
E. Polomé. The Journal of Indo-European Studies 27 (3-4): 441-442, 1999.

4.
From the Journal für Ornithologie:
Mehr als 450 europäische Vogelarten sind in diesem voluminösen Werk in ihrer Namen in mehr als 40 aktuellen Sprachen und Dialekten in Europa und dem Nahen Osten zusammengestellt, wozu mehr als 100.000 Namen zusammengetragen wurden, die offiziellen und lokale, darunter auch viele aus „aussterbenden“ Dialekten. Hinzu kommen auf der beiliegenden CD noch 8000 latein-amerikanische Namen von 1700 Vogelarten von überseeischen frankophonen Ländern und mehr als, 2000 Namen fü Fledermäuse. Die 1 Fälle von zusammengetragenen Namen ist beeindruckend, auch wenn sicher nicht vollständige, was der Autor selbst gerade für den deutschen Sprachkreis mit seinen sehr zahlreichen Dialekten auch betont. Allein für die Elster erstreckt sich die Liste deutscher Namen über- 6,5 Seiten. In Band 2 versucht die Autor, die Herkunft der Namen zu klären, indem er sie nach ihrer morphologischen, akustischen, farblichen oder kinetischen Bedeutung hinterfragt und gruppiert. Entsprechende Verweise finden sich in Band 1, wodurch die Arbeit erleichtert wird. Für Linguisten, Dialektforscher und Historiker ist dieses Werk mit einem Gesamtumfang von mehr als 2500 Seiten eine Fundgrube. Es erzählt über die Namen und ihre Verwendung in den verschiedenen Ländern und Regionen auch vieles über die Kulturgeschichte der Vögel und das Verhältnis zwischen Vogel und Mensch.

F. Bairlein, Journal für Ornithologie 141, 2000: 107








© 2006 Michel Desfayes