Value of 'naming'

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Sat Jul 13 10:06:45 CDT 1996

At 03:50 PM 7/12/96 -0700, Carmine Colacino wrote:
>Do we really need another "standardization" of names (with a very
>limited "universal" value) besides "scientific" ones?
>I do not think so, and I do not see the improvement on the existing
>system, one set of (internationally used) names is just enough, I

I missed the beginning of this thread, being temporarily disconnected from
Taxacom, so forgive me if this has already been flogged. I agree completely
with Dr. Colacino. Here in the US there are standardized "common" names for
birds (courtesy of the American Ornithological Union), and in California,
standardized names for rare plants, courtesy of the California Native Plant
Society and the Department of Fish and Game. Many of the plant names are
translations of the scientific names. They serve very little purpose beyond
relieving people of the necessity of pronouncing Latin. One of the favorite
vernacular names in California is a little onion-relative called "blue
dicks". It has been called that probably since Gold Rush times, but at least
three scientific names have been applied to it (Brodiaea pulchella,
Dichelostemma pulchella, Dichelostemma capitata). If it lacked the
vernacular name, would we call it the "capitate dichelostemma" and pretend
we weren't speaking Latin? What about all the people who had learned to call
it the "beautiful brodiaea"?

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

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