Subject: [Tweeters] Pronunciation of "gyr" Date: Mon Nov 25 09:40:23 PST 2019 From: Bob Sundstrom - ixoreus at scattercreek.com
The etymology of the "gyr" in gyrfalcon isn't fully clear. Some sources say it comes from the Old Norse for spear, others the Old High German or Old French for vulture. And it's possible the connection to "gyre", meaning to circle, came later in the word's history.
While leading a birding tour in Iceland, I learned from my Icelandic co-leader (who felt that the "gyr" in the falcon's name meant spear) that the Icelandic pronunciation (which is essentially Old Norse) is "gire" (with a hard "g" and rhyming with "fire").
I think it's fascinating that this bird name has such a rich history. And we haven't even entered the debate about how best to pronounce "falcon".