Query: "birds and bees"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Feb 16 00:57:23 UTC 2006

>Uh, John, birds reproduce by fucking.

This is off topic, perhaps, but according to information provided
this week on another list I subscribe to, "Swans are the only birds
with penises!" (exclamation point in original).  I feel a tension
between the two claims above, and I'm not sure how to resolve it.


>The only difference is that the
>fertilized egg completes its development outside of the mother's body. I
>don't think embarrassed parents would have wanted to go there, right off the
>On 2/15/06, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
>>  Subject:      Re: Query: "birds and bees"
>>          The rationale is that, stereotypically, parents explaining sex
>>  to their children would begin by discussing how birds and bees
>>  reproduce.  I don't know how this began; perhaps there was an old
>>  parenting manual that suggested taking this approach?
>>  John Baker
>>  -----Original Message-----
>>  From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>>  Of Cohen, Gerald Leonard
>>  Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2006 6:16 PM
>>  Subject: Query: "birds and bees"
>>  Today in my Etymology class a student asked me about the rationale for
>>  the expression "the birds and the bees."  I mentioned that it's a
>>  euphemism for "sex/reproduction," but is there anything else to add?
>>  When did the expression first appear, and why specifically where the
>>  birds and bees selected?  Why not, for example, rabbits and lizards? Or
>>  chipmunks?
>>  Gerald Cohen
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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