Document Type

Peer-Review Article


A recent study of dragonfly names (Montgomery, 1973) has led to a consideration of insect names, especially ancient and early English names. This interest was aroused, chiefly by the statement in Sarot's study of the folklore of the dragonfly from "A Linguistic Approach" that no recognizable name for dragonflies has been found in Anglo-Saxon, classical Latin or ancient Greek. Any language is capable of supplying names for all objects, including insects, which are recognized by its community of speakers. As so many names for dragonflies have been found in modern languages, (95 in English, over 60 in German, about 40 in French and almost 200 in Italian) and names for other insects are fairly numerous in these languages (for example: at least 13 for grasshopper or locust, eight for beetles, and six each for moth, fly and cicada in ancient Greek) this is surprising if not incredible. However, in several years of search I must say that I have been as unsuccessful as Sarot. The search is made rather difficult because all of the comprehensive dictionaries and glossaries of these languages which I have found are one-way, that is from the other language into English. Search for an English word in them is comparable in difficulty to getting where you wish to go by traveling the wrong way on a lane of a super-highway! A great amount of data on insect names in general has been acquired.

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