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Father Owl? Mother Owl?

Posted by Dhm on August 19, 2004

In Reply to: Father Owl? Mother Owl? posted by Henry on August 19, 2004

: : : We have got a very curious expression in Portuguese, and only in Portuguese among the Indo-European languages, as far as I know, although its origin is a La Fontaine´s fable.

: : : When a parent is very proud of his or her child, when they think he or she is the most beautiful/handsome, intelligent, kindest and so on child on earth, when they can only speak well of the child and cannot even tolerate anyone suggesting a defect in their offspring, then this parent is called a "pai (father) coruja" or a "mãe (mother) coruja". "Coruja" [KOH-RÓO- ZHAH] is the Portuguese Word for owl. In the fable, an owl asks a certain carnivorous bird to spare her young.

: : : "And how will I recognize your young?" asks the bird.

: : : "Well," says the owl, "they are the most beautiful little birds in the world."

: : : Unfortunately, some time later, the owl finds to her horror that her own nest was ravaged and that her young had been devoured.

: : : She goes to that bird in order to complain:

: : : "You have betrayed me. You have eaten my young."

: : : "How would I know they were yours? In my opinion, they were very, very ugly... They couldnot be yours", the bird tries to apologize.

: : : "Don´t you know that when you love the ugly, it´s because you find them handsome?" returns the owl.

: : : Well, have you got a similar expression in English to describe these parents (most of them, I think) who shut their eyes to their children´s misbehaviour and shortcomings?

: : : Thanks

: : : Jose Carlos

: : From Word Spy:

: : trophy child (TROH.fee chyld) n. A child used to impress other people and enhance the status of the parent or parents.
: : -trophy-child adj.
: :

: : Trophy child is more about the child being superior because of superior parening.

: : Also from Word Spy:

: : Lake Wobegon effect (layk WOH.bee.gawn uh.fekt) n. The tendency to treat all members of a group as above average, particularly with respect to numerical values such as test scores or executive salaries; in a survey, the tendency for most people to describe themselves or their abilities as above average. Also: Lake Woebegon effect, Lake Woebegone effect.

: : This phrase (sent my way by subscriber James Callan) was inspired by Garrison Keillor's 1985 novel, Lake Wobegon Days, which described life in fictional Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, where "all the children are above average."

: : (Keillor also used that phrase on his radio program.)

: :

: This attitude is called a blinkered view. Race horse, and dray horses too, wear blinkers to restrict their view and avoid distraction. Owls also blink; I wonder if the words are related.

Parents can regard their children through rose-colored glasses, which would make them look better than they are. More crudely, here in the States we might say that your mother owl thinks the sun shines out of her child's asshole. In English we do have the similar expression "mother hen" but that refers to an over-solicitous and anxious parent.

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