Brazilian bird poem mini-series 7-8

I’m very excited to bring my mini-series of Brazilian bird poems to the wider world. I have written a little more about them in this post…

Brazilian bird poem no. 7

Below is the audio version of the poem which plays straight from my YouTube channel.

Brazilian bird poem no. 7 – English translation


This poem came about as I began to reflect on the status connected with the name allocated to each bird. A large number of Brazilian birds (among those whose names I have come across) bear the name of a profession or role, due either to their behaviour (such as a weaver bird) or their appearance (such as a cardinal). It became clear that the majority of the high status occupations or positions were assigned a masculine descriptor, whereas the low status roles were assigned a feminine descriptor.

I have arranged the roles / identities / professions in an ascending scale of social status within the poem. This is my own interpretation of the status I believe each is afforded by Brazilian society as a whole. I was surprised by the starkness of the discrepancy demonstrated by the final pair.

I’m not sure why I was shocked to find inherent sexism in the naming of birds. It stands to reason that inequality within society will be reflected in any expression of language by that society. Without wanting to go into linguistic determinism or linguistic relativity where I would be way out of my depth (although I will still mention this article, which I haven’t read in full but is titled ‘Linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity: idiom in 20th Century Cornish‘ so what’s not to love?), reflecting on these matters within a culture of machismo and other deep-rooted inequalities makes me wonder what part language has to play in perpetuating such inequalities.

Brazilian bird poem no. 8 (traditional)

Below is the audio version of the poem which plays straight from my YouTube channel.

Sabia que o sabiá sabia assobiar?

Did you know that the thrush knows how to whistle?

This is a traditional Brazilian tonguetwister which I have included for the sake of completeness (even though I didn’t write it) because the sabiá is a beautiful and very underrated bird and also because I like even numbers.

Brazilian bird poem no. 7 – Image composed of photos taken for the most part from @avesbrasil – Instagram
Cigana @valmircordasso
Soldadinho @gualhanonebirdwatching
Viuvinha @davioliveira_birder
Polícia @faunabrasil
Rendeira @kacau.oliveira
Capitão @bichodomatofotografia
Freirinha @vecaavellar
Cardeal @fernandaspenst_fotografia
Noivinha @bichodomatofotografia
Príncipe @andreinidio

Brazilian bird poem no. 8 – Image of Sabiá by @rafaelchiobatto featured by @avesbrasil – Instagram

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