Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to say "Birding" in Spanish

On my visits to the tropics, I've always struggled with how to say "We're birding" in Spanish. I've resorted to saying "We're looking at birds." - "Estamos mirando aves." which I'm not sure was interpreted well. On a discussion on the Mexico Birding email list, I've gotten some insight from some locals.

The verb "pajarear" taken from the noun for bird "pajaro" can be used within the birding community to mean "to go birding."

"Vamos a pajarear."
"We're going birding."

Outside of the birding community, you will not want to use that though because it can have some not-so-nice connotations. It can mean someone who hunts birds, raises birds, or can even have some "dirty" meanings. Outside of the birding community, it's been recommended to use "observar" meaning "to observe."

"Estamos observando aves."
"We are observing birds."

Or you could use "estudiar" meaning "to study."

"Estamos estudiando aves."
"We are studying birds."

To say "I am" instead of "We are" simply change the "Estamos" to "Estoy."

Thanks to Robert Straub and the other folks on the list for the insights.

10 comments:

Nuhtatch said...

I know that in Cuba if a man says he is a birder ("pajadero") he is interpreted as saying that he's gay. In several other countries I've been in, the word for butterfly, "mariposa" is also the word for a gay man.

Nuhtatch said...

Uh, I should add, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza: not that there's anything wrong with that!

dguzman said...

Interesting -- I'd never heard the word "aves" used for birds, just the usual "pajaros." I'll ask my mom about it (she is originally from Mexico).

Nuthatch--oh dear! I guess one should check all the connotative meanings as well as the denotative ones!

Patrick Belardo said...

Nuthatch, thanks for the insights. That may have been what the person who mentioned that it had other meanings meant... not that there's anything wrong with that!

slybird said...

Interesting. I've used "Estoy buscando por aves/pajaros" or "Soy un estudiante de aves (or biologia)".

T.R. said...

Me gusta este post. Pienso que ahora nunca utilzare el palabro "pajadero" para describir "birding" en Espanol.

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Jochen said...

The German translation of "birding" is "vögeln", which is used by the general public to describe what the bees and the flowers do in spring.

Birding as a hobby (the English meaning of it) is rare in Germany and people will generally not know that such a hobby exists, so you want to be very careful how exactly you tell someone you're very interested in birding!

Patrick Belardo said...

Jochen, that's good to know! We actually have two NJ birders that I know whose last name is Vogel.

La Profa said...

Slybird, careful with your grammar. The verb "buscar" means "to look for" so you do not need the preposition "por" in your construction as it is redundant and grammatically stigmatizing. "Estoy buscando aves/pájaros" will suffice.

Daniel said...

Oh boy great post!

Here in Honduras Birding is "Pajarear" o "ver pajaros"
Birders are "birders" among local bilingual birders or "Observador de Aves" or "pajarologos" (rough translation of Birdologist) among everyone else.

If you go to the field and someone asks yo say "ando viendo pajaros".

most people wont mind your presence,the most youll get is a puzzled look from the locals and that it....

but the most important advice is if you come down here gimme a holler so I can show you some good spots ;)