Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Daily Hump: The Bantam Menace

Dwarf anything and it becomes cuter--humans being the exception. Evidence: the miniature doberman, the pygmy hippopotamus, the Balearic Islands cave goat, the terribly adorable dwarf bunny, the pygmy elephant of Indonesia and their cousins, the pygmy mammoths of California.

This is true for birds, too. A bantam is simply a miniature fowl, most commonly a chicken. Like their human counterparts, bantams have disproportionately large heads and large wings (UPDATE: I'm told human dwarfs do not in fact have disproportionately large wings). Bantam can also be used to mean a small but aggressive person; thus, one could describe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a bantam, or an angry leprechaun can be bantam (bantam can alternately be used as a noun or adjective). The word is believed to have come to us from the former city of Bantam in the north-west of Java where it is thought these pint-sized poultries first propagated. However, the OED suggests that there is some disagreement regarding this point and it is possible the word is of Japanese (speaking of bantams...) origin.

bantam [OED]

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:: posted by David, 8:30 AM


And then there's the publishing company, Bantam Books, which doesn't seem to publish books any smalle than the average book. Although, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books certainly ended up being shorter than the average book, what with the fact that you only got to read a tenth of it before you were killed by the genie, caught in the undertow and drowned, or buried in a goldmine collapse.
Blogger nat, at 3:32 PM  
Ah, true, but Bantam did (I don't know if they still do) use a chicken as their icon.

Which is kind of strange now that I think of it...
Blogger David, at 10:12 AM  

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