family name use

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Fri Jun 21 20:30:24 CDT 1996

At 04:27 PM 96.06.21 -0400, Robin Panza wrote:
>I disagree.  "Lamiaceae" is equivalent to "England", not "English" and one
>would not say "Most England prefer...."  Besides, I believe it is incorrect to
>say "Most English prefer...", but should properly say "Most English people
>prefer...."  The word "English" is an adjective, and "Most English prefer..."
>is like saying "Most big prefer...."

No, it's not equivalent to "England", no more than "data" is singular.
Family names of both animals and plants are Latin plurals, and animal family
names have the added distinction of being formed like Roman family names (if
I remember correctly, the extended family called _gens_). Even if we look at
popular usage (where "data" is often singular), a family is not a place,
it's a group (if it were a place, Lamium could get up and move and it would
keep its name :-).

For plant taxa, phyla and orders are clearly also plural (Anthophyta, plural
of Anthophytum or Anthophyton; Papaverales, plural of Papaveralis).  Classes
seem to be plural: -mycetes and -phyceae clearly are, and I assume -opsida
is as well, although I've seen the ending -opsidae at other ranks.

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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