improper Latin

Wed Dec 18 06:06:34 CST 1996

I was rather amused by the Amorphophallus description, although
I agree that whoever wrote it should be severely chastized. But
again, the interpretation of the ICBN involves not the question
of whether things were done well, but rather whether they meet
the minimum requirements mandated therein.
   For the most part, the description Dr. Veldkamp shared with
us involves English nouns modified by Latin adjectives. If the
entire piece had been like this, with no Latin nouns at all,
I would maintain that no Latin description had been provided.
Simply using the word "brevioribus" without making it clear to
a non-English speaker what is being described as short does
not make a description. The first word, however, is "Sphaeroides"
which is indeed the Latin form of the English "sphaeroids."
Thus "Sphaeroides ... 5 cm longis" does seem to qualify as a
   As an aside, the Kebun Raya Botanical Garden in Bogor, Indonesia,
has several Amorphophallus plants and has adopted it as its
symbol. I found it rather amusing that on holidays such as
Idul Fitri, good moslem parents would buy their children
balloons bearing pictures of the plants, totally oblivious to
the etymology of the name "Amp

Joseph E. Laferriere
Tucson, Arizona, USA
JosephL at

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