Painted Papillon

I didn't achieve my aim of photographing a painted lady singing Marie Lloyd songs yesterday but I've made up for it today. :) I noticed lots of red admiral butterflies flitting round the back door ivy bush and was delighted to find a painted lady amongst them. I don't understand how this butterfly got that name. A painted lady to me is a woman trying a bit too hard and wearing too much make-up. I think the colouring of the painted lady is just right. Pretty in a restrained fashion, not too garish. Her useless brush feet look like a lovely mink stole. Her scientific names, Vanessa of the Cynthia group sound to me like ladies of a certain age.

Following an article in the paper reporting that, according to a study, words used to describe common concepts have similar sounds across the globe, people have written in. Someone wondered why the butterfly seems to stand isolated, language-wise, in every country. She states that in Norway it is sommerfugl; fjaril in Sweden and schmetterling in Germany.

Another correspondent had the thought that words used in different languages for this insect "conjure up the notion of the beauty and lyricism of the creature's flight."Mariposa (Spanish), schmetterling (German), borboleta (Portuguese), papillon (French), farfalla (Italian) and babushka Russian. She thinks that it can't be accidental that all these words are multi-syllabic and evoke colour, gentle movement and rhythm. She says the words may be "isolated" but poetically they are not. She definitely has a point. 

Another correspondent  notes that in the language of Hausa, spoken in Northern Nigeria, the word for butterfly is malam-budelittafi which translates as Mr open book. How charming! :)

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