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Marten or martin?

01 Nov

This Troublesome Pair is another animal one, so it kind of goes with mink or minke and maybe even mandrel or mandrill. So, what is the difference between a marten and a martin? Well, one of them’s an animal and one of them’s a bird …

The marten is the animal – it’s the weaselly mammal that lives in the coniferous and northern deciduous forests of Europe, Asia and North America. I call them weaselly; they aren’t weasels, but they are related to weasels, mink and ferrets, as well as wolverines and badgers (I didn’t know a wolverine was a real thing. I feel a wolf or wolverine post coming on now!).  In the UK, we have pine martens in Scotland and there’s a European pine marten too, as well as a Japanese variety.

The martin, then, is the bird. The name is used for a subset of the swallow family, which are found all around the world, apart from on Antarctica. There’s a very detailed Wikipedia article about how exactly the swallows are divided up into river martins and everything else – we probably know house martins and sand martins best, but there’s a lot of them around. Apparently, house and purple martins have developed a habit of only nesting around houses and in special nesting boxes, so hardly ever nest truly in the wild any more.

So, no pine martins or house martens, please!

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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3 responses to “Marten or martin?

  1. Rebecca Foster

    November 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I saw this slip in a science/nature book once! It was so disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  2. Don Massenzio

    November 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this quick, helpful post from the Libro Editing blog on the difference between Marten and Martin.

    Like

     

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