The garden warbler, Sylvia borin was named in the end of 18 th century by Boeddart. I have been asked many times to explain the meaning of the name and its origine. I must confess I have always reluctantly answered that I really don´t know. "Some say that the word has something to do with oxen," I said, "but I am not certain how."
Last spring I decided to start researching of my own. After a lot of resultless googling I had to leave the subject for a while.
After the summer I started investigating again. Now I was lucky to find a downloadable copy of Aldrovandis Ornithologia from the16 th century.
Here he, who was a wellknown scholar of that time, has a description of a bird he has placed in the Muscicapae family.
He also gives the explanation why it is called "borin". "The bird," he says," is called boarin or borin because its habit of following oxen". Aldrovandi also says the word "borin" is used by the inhabitants of Genua.
Classical Latin has a few words connected with bos, bovis ox. Bovarius or boarius, belonging to oxen or cows. It also has a word with the same meaning, bovinus, today used as a medical term i.e. bovin tuberculosis in opposite to human.
A post classical use are the words boárolus eller boarínus
Boarínus has developed in the following way, boarinus>borinus( syncope; drop of unstressed vowel "a" )> borin.
Is this Latin? Definitly a word derived from a Latin word, but at the time of Aldrovandi an Italian dialect word from the province of Genua.
Is the bird described by Aldrovandi as "borin" the garden warbler? Probably not. Very few caracteristics described by Aldrovandi fit the warbler. I leave the question to be answered by more skilled ornithologists than I.
Örjan Rudstedt 2008
De nomine Sylviae borin
Sylvia borin primo a Boeddarto, auctore nominis avis huius anno MDCCLXXXIII nominata est. Identidem originem nominis"borin" explicare petitus sum. Confiteor semper me dixisse vero nescire.
Nonnulli homines nomen "borin" de bove deduci posse arbitrant. Nemo tamen mihi clare hanc connectionem monstrare possuit.Cum tempus gelidum priore anno transierat, investigationem,ut res explorarem, feci. Labor non tam facilis erat,quam primo mihi visus erat. Tristis operam cantui avium dedi. Sum recordista naturae soni et totus in illo occupatus veris tempore.
Autumno conatus novos incepi. Nunc fortuna me favet. Google in rete orbis terrarum explorando Ornithologiam Aldrovandi inveni. In libro qui familiam Muscicaparum continet, Ulisses Aldrovandus nobis picturam avis quam boarinam sive boarolam vocavit, monstrat. Aldrovandus polyhistor naturalis historiae peritus in Bononia tota vita vixit. De causa nominis "borin" Aldrovandus. "Quam priori loco damus depictam in agro nostro a persequendo Boves, vulgo Boarolam, seu Boarinam nuncupant."
Itaque mihi recte videtur nomen "borin" modo sequenti explicari posse. Boarinus>Borinus( syncope) Borin. (quae bovem pertinet.).
"Borin" non est verbum latinum sed sine dubio verbum dialectale in usu Genuensibus. Sed "borin" in Ornithologia Aldrovandi depicta nonne est Sylvia borin? Ante Linnaeum Chaos. Difficile est scire sed opinione mea avis descripta non est Sylvia borin.
Georgius Rudstedtius MMVIII
Omnia Semper Nunc