Value of 'naming'

Jorge Soberon Mainero jsoberon at MIRANDA.ECOLOGIA.UNAM.MX
Thu Jul 18 09:46:08 CDT 1996

Friends, I dont really know what is all this discussion about. 1) The only
standardized system of names is scientific western taxonomy. 2) Attempts
to produce standardize common names has only worked for northern
countries birds, and perhaps, butterflies and conspicuous or useful
plants. 3) In really diverse countries, there is also cultural diversity,
meaning hundreds of, not only names, but *systems* of naming (i.e., Tzeltal
folk taxonomy, Lacandon folk taxonomy, etc.). For example mexican
bird watchers try very hard to use our own standard system of common
names, and end using Guiraca cerulea (latin), Blue grossbeak (american
standard common), Picogordo azul (mexican spanish standard, used only
by mexican birdwatchers) and then the rest, that depends on the state,
village, hamlet etc. (picogrueso azul, azulejo maicero, azulon,
juilotl, elototl, etc.)  Finally, 4) most little things (that is, most
things) will never get a common name (or please let me know your local
common names for your most abundant mymarid  wasp).

So, being practical, I stick to latin names when I want to be understood
by colleagues, including students, accept as a fact of life that to talk
with bird watchers I  have to multiply the effort  by a factor of two or
more, and learn (and rather soon forget) the local names that exist for other
things, mainly plants.


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