Let’s have a chat about things that are not what our language tells us they are: beasties, and birdies, and fishies, and other thingies that our language lies to us about.
The koala bear’s not really a bear.
And the English hare is nary a hare.
The English hare lies; he’s really a rabbit;
While the koala is of marsupial habit.
Now the cottontail rabbit is a hare, glory be,
No matter the name, not a rabbit is he.
The panda bear’s really a kind of raccoon.
No bear in sight, just a piebald buffoon.
The white rhino’s not white; he’s brownish and gray,
Same hue as the black, who’s not black anyway.
Now let’s consider the poor guinea pig.
He’s no more a pig than a reindeer or twig;
He’s akin to a rat; a cute, furry rodent,
And, just like that rat, reproductionally potent.
A true buzzard is a hunter, a raptor, a chaser.
What we call a buzzard’s a naming misplacer.
The American buzzard never hunts; he just waits.
He’s a turkey vulture; on carrion he sates.
The bald eagle has feathers on top of his head.
The horned owl has no horns, just feathers instead.
The robin red-breast, harbinger of spring,
Ain’t really a robin; a thrush is his thing.
Then there’s the black duck, poor misnaméd bird.
He’s not black; he is brown; with white he is shirred.
The palm warbler’s name is confusing, unfair.
He lives up in Canada where palm trees are rare.
The tree sparrow’s name says he lives up in trees.
He’s a ground-dwelling bird; heights make him sneeze.
Silverfish sounds like a fish that is shiny,
Not like a bug that is creepy and slimy.
And shellfish aren’t fish no matter the name;
They’re clams, shrimp, and lobsters; just not the same.
Dolphins can be either mammals or fishes,
Either Flipper or mahi-mahi, whichever they wishes.
The koi is a carp with prettified skin,
As is a goldfish, but with fluffier fins.
The sunfish is cold-blooded, not warm in the least.
The star fish produces no light, the poor beast.
Pan fish, in general, aren’t made out of pans.
Angel fish don’t fly with harps in their hands.
The white shark is gray, not white as he’s named.
He eats baby seals; he should blush red, ashamed.
George Carlin told us how misnomers thrive:
We drive on a parkway but park in the drive.
When your flight is non-stop, just how does it land?
If a plane’s full of women, is it then unmanned?
Are part-time band leaders just semi-conductors?
How can data be found in unstructured structures?
The prefix “I-N” means, no, it is not.
How then can flame and inflame be equally hot?
Does delighting someone turn out his light,
And leave him to fumble around in the night?
A Boston cream pie is a cake, not a pie.
But my cheesecake’s a pie. Can you tell me why?
Danish pastries are French, not invented by Danes.
French fries are from Belgium. I’m going insane!
If you think these misnomers are rare or unlikely,
You’ve failed in your study of English, by Crikey!
A lot of the things that you say are untrue
But due to our language, not ‘cause of you.
When someone next tells you a sunfish is hot,
Remember my words, and you’ll know it is not!