common names of fishes

Mon Jun 5 14:04:00 CDT 1995

> Barry Roth at  barryr at brings up another problem:
>How many of the names in this work are actual records of vernacular names
>used by non-taxonomists and how many are coinages by taxonomists in the
>interest of having a standard English-language name list?

     The problem of common names for invertebrates gets even more
complicated when it
comes to translating them into a different language.  The staff of the
Canadian Museum of Nature
are often asked to provide french translations of english-language common
names for animals found
only in British Columbia, or worse, Australia, Japan, California, etc...  --
all places without a significant
French-speaking population.  Other areas, the Caribbean or the South
Pacific, do have Francophone
populations but we do not have access to a lexicon of their local names.
     To be done properly, it would be necessary to visit each locale, find a
group of francophones,
and ask them what they called each type of animal or plant.   In some parts
of the South Pacific, such
names probably exist; in other areas, they undoubtedly do not.  Lacking both
time and travel budget,
we usually try to find any sort of common name that will fit, then translate
     One example:  a request for the french common name of a colonial
ascidian known as "Pink Crust," genus _Didemnum_.   I think we settled on
"didemne" following the french tradition of adapting
the scientific name.  Ironically, the earlier reluctance of French
scientists to adopt the Linnean system,
using terms such as "Nereide, _Nereis_" (Audouin & Milne-Edwards, 1834), has
caused problems with
determining the correct family-level name for some taxa.
     I'm not sure what French name  was decided on for "Japanese Mitten

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