Formality of Latin description

Joseph Laferriere josephl at CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
Wed Nov 8 14:16:40 CST 1995

There has been some talk on Taxacom lately about the pros and cons of
Latin descriptions. There is one argument I have not seen addressed, i.e.
that requiring a Latin diagnosis, holotype, etc., forces the writer to be
more formal and careful in describing new species. Note that the rule has
been effect in botany only since 1935. Before that, a description could
be in Latin, English, German, Swahili, Klingon, or any other language. I have
looked up some original descriptions from the early 19th Century. They
often read something like "Mr. Foxworthy, a distinguished gardener from
Birmingham, showed me a plant with yellow flowers, which he called `Flora
flava.'" Poof! You have a new, validly published name, Flora flava
Foxworthy ex Sims or whatever. Requiring the Latin description prevents
this sort of thing, forcing the author to do some extra work and some
extra thought in order to have a name become officially acceptible.

Joe Laferriere
JosephL at

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