Vernacular names for butterflies

Guy Van de Poel Guy_VdP at
Sat Apr 25 19:32:41 EDT 1998


In our (Flemish - Brabants for those who know more about Flanders) dialect, we 
use the word 'pepel' for butterfly. This obviously comes from the French (or 
even Latin ?) papillon (papilio). Pronounce the first e as the a in lady.
This is the only word used in the common language (except for the 
semi-universal 'mot'). I think that all other names in Dutch (Kapellen, 
Schoenlappers, ...) were more or less made up as soon as people began writing 
books (in Dutch in this case), to be able to 'sell' these books to the general 
public; nowadays publishers DEMAND that such names are given for each species. 
So far for stability in vernacular names, since each new author thinks he's 
better in inventing new descriptive names.

And although it's been said before: As soon as I get an e-mail that tells me 
the sighting of a 'small blue', I hit the delete button, as I need to figure 
out where the writer lives in order to know what he's talking about. The 
discussion on vernacular names shows that many nationalities, speaking many 
different languages use this list. Cupido minimus tells exactly what I am 
talking about, and even though these names change, they don't change with the 
kilometers (or miles) you travel. And in a way it seems fair that these latin 
names are difficult to pronounce (though they are not really) for everyone, 
which ever language he uses normally.

Guy Van de Poel

Guy_VdP at

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