Monday, 9 June 2008

Sprosser? Tosser!

There have been a few Thrush Nightingales about this spring, which has led to an unfortunate outbreak of Sprosseritis on certain blogs and websites. Now, I'm probably as guilty as anyone of using 'esoteric' nicknames for birds which are (according to leading psychologist Professor P. Witt) "designed to exclude the newcomer or casual birdwatcher, and signal membership of a self-proclaimed elite", but calling a Thrush Nightingale a 'Sprosser' is one that I just don't get.

Everyone knows that it's simply the German name for the species, but when and more importantly why did it enter some British birders' vocabularies? We don't go around saying we've had good views of a Nachtigall, or twitched an Erddrossel or a Gartenbaumlรคufer for fuck's sake, so why pick on this one? Yes, it's a bit quicker than saying 'Thrush Nightingale', but then 'Streifenschwirl' is shorter than 'Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler' and we don't use that, do we? Although perhaps that's because it looks a bit difficult to pronounce, whereas even the dullest, most linguistically challenged twitcher can cope with Sprosser.

And why use the German name? Why not the Dutch, or Swedish or Serbo-Croat? It's complete bollocks.

I think Rob Fray summed it up perfectly on his website when he said "If I ever call this species ‘Sprosser’ then somebody please shoot me". The message is clear: if you call it a Sprosser, it means you're a tosser.



9 comments:

Skev said...

Tosser? Surely you mean Drehknopffiedler!

Andy Mackay said...

Doesn't make for such a snappy headline though, does it?!

Harry said...

'The message is clear: if you call it a Sprosser, it means you're a tosser'.

Does that mean that all German birders are tossers as well, or are they exempt?
Have never used 'Sprosser', thankfully, though have been known to call them 'Thrush 'gale' if pressed to come up with an abbreviation.

Andy Mackay said...

Good point! Perhaps the slogan should be revised to 'if you call it a Sprosser, it means you're a tosser, unless you're German, in which case it's perfectly acceptable, although you could still be a tosser for other, unconnected reasons'. Less snappy, but more politically correct!

John Hague said...

As a 'sprosser tosser' I feel fully chastised and will go back and change my ways.
I don't know when i started using sprosser but it certainly goes back to my days in Yorkshire before I started twitching, I'm pretty sure that up there we used to use the term loosely for either species of Nightingale.

Mark said...

As a fellow Yorkshire man I can only say that that's bollocks John. I've never known either species as 'sprosser', but then I also don't call bread cakes fucking tea cakes.

Andy Mackay said...

I have to say that indiscriminately calling both species Sprosser is even more ridiculous.

'If you call both species Sprosser, you need to get your eyes tested and/or a new pair of bins/field guide - this applies whether you're German or not'

Skev said...

John - you sure some of your homeland birding chums weren't referring to a Spazzer in their midst?

beast said...

Interesting to read some of the comments about sprossers. Personally I don't give a flying fuck what you call these birds. I would say one thing though, if you call it a sprosser [and its a rufous tailed robin] then you're a complete cunt...