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Laboratory - Eagles, or vultures?

I had been aware since long that the Ladinian, or pseudo-ladinian, word "varjul", translated by Wolff as "eagle", as a matter of fact indicated a vulture, in detail the bearded vulture. Ulrike Kindl, both in her writings and talking about it, had confirmed to share my interpretation. I have been quite surprised, thence, while reading Veronica Irsara's graduation dissertation, as she confuted this point. Later on, Iaco Frontull also, at San Vigilio, asked me why was I translating as "vulture" what everybody, in Badia and Marebbe, understood as an "eagle". Then I felt the need to go into some more depth.


The small Badia-Ladinian-to-Italian dictionary that I own (G.S.Martini, published at Florence but compiled by three schoolmasters from Badia and Marebbe) is dated 1950; it translates the Ladinian term aquila as "eagle" and variö (indicated as a purely Marebbe term) as "vulture".

I searched the Ladinian Linguistic Atlas of the Salzburg University (ALD-I). Unfortunately the term "vulture" is not listed. At the item "eagle" one can find that:

- almost all Ladinian idioms use for "eagle" a term that can rather easily connected with Latin "aquila" (I deem a possible loan from Italian "aquila" to be out of question);
- exceptions are the dialect of Bula (middle Gardena valley), where a word of clear German derivation is used, and a wide area of the Badia and Marebbe valleys, where the terms "variö" or "variöl" or "variöl da sas" are standard.

We must remark that this area crosses the usual dialect boundaries, as it stretches from the Badia Ladinian (San Cassiano, San Leonardo) to the Ladinian proper (S.Martin de Tor) and Mareo Ladinian (la Pli), but it does not include the Badia towns of Corvara, Colfosco and La Valle, where the word aquila is still in use!
The so-called "Transcriptionary" at the same site (terms added by users of the site, as far as I can understand) displays something different yet, because together with aquila it lists words derived from variöl for the remaining areas of the Badia valley as well, and at the same time it proposes all over the Gardena valley the secondary term valtoi aside a primary word connected with "aquila" (éguia, égula).

When I spent a few days at the Fanes Hut this summer, I had the chance to ask Max Mutschlechner. He answered me that in Marebbe the eagle is usually called variö (da sas as it nests on the cliffs), and that for the vulture the term that is (occasionally) used is valtö.

A the same time, I came to know also that in the Dolomites two different types of vultures once existed, the above quoted bearded vulture (also named eagle-vulture because, among all vultures, it is the closest to an eagle in its likeness and habits) and the griffon (Gyps fulvus), the most widely known type of vulture (it seems that, recently, this species also has been re-introduced - quite silently - into the Dolomites).

Bearded Vulture

So we are dealing with three different big birds of prey (eagle, bearded vulture, griffon vulture) and three different Ladinian names (aquila, variö, valtö). Is it possible that originally there was a one-to-one correspondence of names wth birds, and that only recently, also as a consequence of the extinction of two of them, Ladinians started confusing them? I would like being able to demonstrate that the valtö (strictly connected with Latin vultur, as well as French vautour and Italian avvoltoio are) once was the griffon and only the griffon, and the variö was the bearded vulture and only the bearded vulture; but by now we only have evidence that the word aquila is losing ground over time, in the usage of the various Ladinian idioms - and in a quite unorderly way - in the course of just a few decades.


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