Shabby Latin

Robert Mill R.Mill at RBGE.ORG.UK
Thu Dec 19 16:22:59 CST 1996

Dear Taxacomers

The points raised by Boufford and Lammers are excellent and I can
sympathise with many of them but I would like to raise the question:

Leaving aside the country of origin of the description or the size
of the institute, would we be interpreting Art. 36.1 in the same
way, and accepting the description as valid, if the non-Latin words
had been written in a language other than English, such as Finnish,
Swahili, Gaelic, or even a major one like French, German or Spanish?
Because the non-Latin words happened to be in English, the botanical
community could understand the intended meaning of the diagnosis;
this would not have been the case for very many botanists if the
non-Latin words had been written in one of many other languages.

My opinion, which I have already expressed privately to the person
raising the original question, is that the diagnosis cannot be
regarded as validating the name under Art. 36.1 even though I do
sympathise with the reasons given by those who would like to consider
the name validly published. Art. 36.1 specifies Latin, not Latin
mixed with English, Gaelic or any other language. Had the description
been sent to me for refereeing (I am Associate Editor of the
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society with responsibility for
checking Latin, and do the same for our own staff at E), I would have
regarded the name as invalid and would have requested that the
description be re- submitted in Latin, with no admixture of obviously
'foreign' (i.e. non-Latin) words. I would also have used my
discretion and offered assistance with the translation if I felt that
help might be needed for the requirements of Art. 36.1 to be
fulfilled, perhaps because the person was at a small institute with
few resources at hand.

Happy Christmas to all fellow Taxacomers.

Robert Mill

      (Dr) ROBERT R MILL
      Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
      20a Inverleith Row, EDINBURGH EH3 5LR, SCOTLAND, U.K.

      Electronic Mail:   R.Mill at OR robert at
      Telephone:         + 44 131 552 7171 exts. 240 or 449
      Facsimile:         + 44 131 552 0382


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