The Joy of Language Learning
Birds and Mountains

The Journey From Aves to Aviators.

Aren’t birds fascinating creatures? Their ability to fly is what inspired humans to try to conquer the skies – something that we have achieved to a great degree of success. But, even after all this time, we haven’t dethroned our beaked competitors which, in all honesty, is a good thing. They still rule the skies, flying in flocks across the blood red horizon during sunset, delighting us with a myriad of soothing voices and targeting the heads of unsuspecting individuals for use as lavatories.

Our ancestors must have been star struck by them as well. After all, they were the inhabitants of the sky which meant they were closer to the Gods than us. Therefore, as is the case with everything humans don’t understand, our ancestors began to equate them with the divine. It is no surprise then that birds have been an integral part of various cultures and civilizations around the world. The Greeks used to depict some of their deities as birds: the goddess of witches, Hecate, was often represented in the form of an owl. The Greek word for birds was ornis and deriving from it, the study of birds is referred to as Ornithology. The Romans, on the other hand, had officials called augurs who used to study the birds in the sky and made predictions based on their flight and behavior. This practice of divination was known as augurium.

Augurs. Image Credit: Nordisk Familijebok/Wikimedia
Rahul Dravid. Image Credit: Joseph JoyC/ Wikimedia

However, the specific act of watching a bird was called auspicium (from Latin avis: bird and specere: look) which is the ancestor of the word auspicious. Auspicious means something which is favourable or bodes well. Thus invitations to events like marriages and inaugurations contain something along the lines of “Your valuable presence on this auspicious occasion is highly appreciated”. Its plural form is auspices which also finds its use where there is a sense of guidance or patronage. For example, the National Cricket Academy has flourished under the auspices of Rahul Dravid.

The Latin for bird, avis, has also marked its presence in the English language, being used to signify a relation to birds or flight. When we study about the classifications of species, the family comprising of birds is called Aves. If a disease like flu originates from any bird, it is referred to as an avian flu and an enclosure where birds are kept is known as an aviary. When humans achieved the miracle of sustained flight akin to birds, we labelled this aerial mode of transport as aviation and the pilot of an aircraft as the aviator.

Aviators
Image Source: StockSnap/ Pixabay

Now that you have finished the reading part, how about a small recap and a small exercise?


Table Summary:

PrefixWordSuffixMeaning
Ornitho-logyThe study of birds.
AugurRoman religious officials who studied omens and signs.
Augur-iumThe practise of looking for divine signs or omens
AuspiciousSomething that bodes well or is favourable.
AuspicesUnder the guidance or patronage of.
AvesThe class of species to which birds belong.
Ave-ianRelating to birds
Avi-aryAn enclosure where birds are kept.
Avi-ationFlying, generally in an aircraft.
Avia-atorPilot of an aircraft.

Welcome to Few Auspicious Questions

The study of birds is referred to as:
The ____________ industry was heavily hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic: (aerial transport)

Aviation

The word “avian flu” here means:
Avian flu
Image Source: News24
What does “auspicious” mean in the given headline?
Auspicious
Image Source: Jagran.com
The Romans had religious officials who studied omens and signs. These officials were called:
An enclosure where birds are kept is known as:
Aviary
Aviary. Image Source: Anne/Flickr
Next

You will be redirected to the crossword page when you click the image below:

Across

2. Guidance or patronage

4. A pilot

6. Relating to birds

7. Roman religious officials

8. The study of birds

Down

1. Something that bodes well or is favourable

3. An enclosure where birds are kept

5. Flying, generally using an aircraft

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