Flamingo and flamenco are easily confused words.
The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.
Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.
Flamingo (pronounced “fluh-mihng-oh”) is a wading bird known for its bright salmon colored feathers, long legs, and short, hooked beak. Flamingos filter feed off the ocean or swamp floor. Some shellfish they eat give their feathers that brilliant salmon hue. Birds that eat less of these creatures have less brilliant feathers. Check out a video of a mating procession here.
Flamingos are not native to the US* or Europe, but they have caught people’s imagination in these places for a long time.
- Some Americans have plastic ones in the yard for decoration. These were introduced in 1957.
- It’s not unusual to see flamingo shapes and patterns used on clothes, furniture, and products for spring and summer.
- Flamingos were used as croquet clubs in the Lewis Carroll classic “Alice in Wonderland.”
- English pop singer Dua Lipa featured flamingos in her 2017 “New Rules” video and does a flamingo-inspired dance with the other women in it.
Flamenco (pronounced “fluh-mihn-koh”/”flah-MEEn-koh”) is a native dance associated with southern Spain. While an acoustic guitar plays, a dancer claps, spins, and makes syncopated steps and stomps. Simultaneously, their arms are making dramatic gestures, snapping, or playing castanets (a percussion instrument of two wooden shells that are clapped together in one hand). Female dancers usually wear ruffled gowns and fringed scarves that accentuate the drama of their movements. Check out a video here.
Flamenco can be found in some former Spanish colonies of Central and South America, but these countries also have other dances their known for that come from indigenous traditions and large immigrant groups, like the Italians in Argentina. Check out more about those dances here and here.
The following story uses both words correctly:
Every year coming up with new ways to spark public interest and produce sellout shows was a challenge. Artistic Director Phyllidia Peterson thought the next season’s opening ballet company show could incorporate wildlife inspirations in the costuming while the dance styles would show global influence.
“I’m not going to be an ostrich doing ballet like Fantasia am I?”
“No. And no swans. The goal is to dazzle people, show them something new. It can’t be predictable or something they’ve seen before. Why should them come here if they’ve seen it before? So if we have flamingos, they’ll do the samba. Maybe we’ll have some hoopoes do a flamenco inspired dance. Ticket sales need to have an environmental charity donation.”
*=A colony was imported to Hialeah Park, Florida, where it still exists today.