Language of Description

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Thu Oct 26 08:56:39 CDT 1995

At 08:13 AM 10/26/95 -0600, MICHAEL A. IVIE wrote:
>is the main non-Latin alphabet language to deal with.  Could it be that
>the dictum of Latin diagnoses in Botany actually hurts the community, in
>that people figure they can publish in a local language because the
>new species are in Latin, and everyone can read them?  In Zoology, if you
>want your paper read widely, you must publish it in a widely read language.

I don't know whether this is the case, because I work mainly with North
American taxa, but what I have noticed is that in English-language journals,
the Latin description is often an afterthought: a long English description
followed by a short Latin diagnosis, something like "it differs from species
X by its narrower leaves and red flowers."  The Latin description is of
course the official one.  In a case where I couldn't read the language of
the article, and this the more complete description, the Latin diagnosis
would be of little use at all.

Curtis Clark                                       Voice: (909) 869-4062
Biological Sciences Department                     FAX:   (909) 869-4396
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Pomona CA 91768-4032                               jcclark at

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