common names

Lawrence Kirkendall Lawrence.Kirkendall at ZOO.UIB.NO
Sat Jun 3 18:47:39 CDT 1995

I think all of us have experienced the pitfalls of using common names for
plants.  But what about animals?  My impression is that at least vertebrate
names are much less variable.  Is that impression incorrect?  How much do
vernacular names of given species of birds, snakes, turtles, and common
mammals vary, say, within the continental US, or within Europe (but within
the same language, of course)?  A counterexample would be snakes in Costa
Rica--each poisonous snake I learn seems to have many different common
names, now that I think of it...  furthermore, I have seen a T-shirt here
in Norway covered with dialect names for the national bird, what we would
call a dipper...  But are these exceptions?  One major problem with respect
to plants that has been pointed out in several postings is that vastly
different plant species can have the same common name; does this happen
nearly as often with vertebrates?


from 22 June-18 Sept., I will be at   --->  klawrenc at

Lawrence R. Kirkendall                        FAX:   +47 55 31 44 64
Univ. Bergen Zoological Inst.                 VOICE: +47 55 21 23 42
Allegaten 41, N-5007 BERGEN Norway
EMAIL:  Lawrence.Kirkendall at

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