N is for Nothing
That’s not really true. N is for a lot of things, just nothing in the Verncular Bestiary. I started writing about the animals in the VB starting with the letter A. That seemed logical. I knew there were gaps but I figured that I might get lucky and fill in any missing animals as I went through the alphabet. I was wrong.
I may have taken on too big a project. The Vernacular Bestiary is not difficult. I collect snapshots of animals and put them in top loaders and store them in 3-ring binders. I’m up to about 6 thick binders so far.
In working my way through the collection in A to Z order I was also attempting to create an what I have been calling an Alphabetary. I just assumed that a book about any set of objects arranged in alphabetic order would be an alphabetary. When I Googled it I hit several brick walls. One online dictionary had this to say, “‘alphabetary’ has been looked up 69 times, and is not a valid Scrabble word.” There is one children’s book from the slavery days called an alphabetary but nothing tells me why. Maybe this is a sign. I still think it is a worthy goal to find 26 snapshots of 26 different animals, one for each letter of the alphabet. Can I get away with calling that an alphabetary?
I am not going to let the absence of an animal starting with N stop me from writing about all the rest of the animals in the VB. I just may have to skip inserting one photo for the time being. I’ll be going on to O animals soon and eventually coming back to the letter N when and if I find something. I know you are asking yourself what animals to look for that start with N. Here’s partial list to guide you. Think of the honor that would be bestowed upon you if you were the one to find the missing N.
The partial list: nightingale, narwhal, newt, neon tetra, nautilus, Newfoundland dog, nighthawk, nutria, nematode, nine-banded armadillo, Nubian goat and night crawler. I predict that if I were to find a snap of a nine-banded armadillo it would be dead on the road somewhere in Texas.
Just when you thought it could not get any more complex dyslexia kicks in. Trying to type out alphabetary for the Google search led me to type in extra letters. Out came alphabestiary. That’s an interesting word I had never heard of before. That may have been the word I was grasping for when I called my A to Z selection of animals an alphabetary.
From the Simon Fraser University Gallery web site comes this information. “In 2010 the Winnipeg Art Gallery acquired The Winnipeg Alphabestiary, a set of twenty-six works originally conceived on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Winnipeg-based art publication Border Crossings.” “The alphabestiary format has both a long history and a close association with children’s books, assisting children with language development, in particular learning the alphabet. This process lends itself to the formation of letter and image associations. One defining characteristic that separates humans from animals is language, and yet it is odd that by using alphabestiaries we have historically involved those very animals to communicate our most basic language components to young people.”
This site and others cheat. They get to use mythological beasts. I’m sure one of their artists could even make up a mythical beast that started with a letter they needed to get all 26 letters.
The Vernacular Bestiary has much higher standards. Will those high standards doom the Vernacular Bestiary to the failure of never being able to complete the entire alphabet? If N is difficult then what about X?
Only time will tell. In the meantime I hope you will all continue to support the Vernacular Bestiary.