Kris an’ Murphy: Ah Robin …

A little Turdus

Turdus migratorius

Murphy: “So, tonight, I’m taking myself and, alas, my notes for the Comparative Religion course, up to the cabin in the North Cascades.”

Kris: “Ah yes, you’ve told me about ‘Miles From Nowhere’ before. How long, this time?”

Murphy: “Two weeks, I think, enough to get a fair start. Must confess I’m looking forward to it. To being ‘off the grid’ for awhile. To have nothing to wake me up in the morning but the caroling of the robins.”

Kris: “You still get robins up there, then? Well, they’re pretty little turds, I guess.”

Murphy: “Hm. I never did peg you for a tree-hugger, Kris, but is it necessary to diss the wildlife?”

Kris: “Who’s dissing the wildlife? Though a bird in the hand is always safer than one overhead. But they’re turds. Says so right on the label. Look it up!”

Murphy: “Not turds. Turdus. Latin for ‘thrush’. Robins are thrushes.”

Kris: “So even the Romans thought they were kind of shitty?”

Murphy: “You, of all people, should know better. Turdus has a totally different etymology from turd. Completely separate origins in PIE.”

Kris: “Well, turds are what pie turns into. But you mean Proto-Indo-European.”

Murphy: “Um, yes. Says here that ‘turd’ is derived from a PIE word that means, in effect, ‘something cut off from the body’. And ‘shit’ is derived from another PIE word that means the same thing.”

Kris: “Makes sense when you put it that way, actually.”

Murphy: “Ew.”

Kris: “Not that kind of scents!”

Murphy: “Now here’s something I didn’t know, and wish I hadn’t found out. The same root that gave us the word ‘shit’ also gave us the word ‘science‘. They’re cousins.”

Kris: “Um, Murphy?”

Murphy: “Yeah?”

Kris: “I’m afraid you’re a little late to this party. The general populace has pretty much got this one figured out.”

Murphy: “Yeah. Shit.”

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