Dump Latin!

Jan Bosselaers dochterland at VILLAGE.UUNET.BE
Sun Feb 28 14:33:04 CST 1999

Curtis Clark wrote:

> Botanical Latin is closer to a programming language than to a natural
> language, because an almost algorithmic precision is needed to
> unambiguously describe plants. If there were a "Botanical English", used by
> everyone who describes plants. I would support that as a substitute for
> Latin.

For what it's worth, in my opinion Russian fulfills this requirement.
Russian declensions are even more numerous and more precise than Latin
ones and the language is of an almost mathematical beauty and elegance.
It must be admitted that their verb conjugations are weaker than the
Latin equivalents, especially the past tense and the conditionalis, but
this will hardly matter for species descriptions. However, using Russian
would certainly not solve the botanist's problems: the language is even
more difficult to learn than Latin and the need to use a Cyrillic font
further complicates matters. I guess Latin is just the best option
presently available.
On the other hand, Mark Garland is right that
a) zoological systematics is not being terrorised in any way by
"anglo-saxon imperialists", in spite of the use of English for
b) it is very hard to find a Latin catholic mass nowadays. Still, as a
light-footed disgression, I might point out that we have an excentric
priest somewhere far away in the hills in the East of Belgium who still
celebrates Latin masses. But then it is murmured that he and his
followers wear black rubber underwear and that they are, in fact, a
religious sect :-)

Jan Bosselaers
"Dochterland", R. novarumlaan 2
B-2340 Beerse, Belgium                       tel 32-14-615896
home: dochterland at village.uunet.be           fax 32-14-610306
work: jbossela at janbe.jnj.com
web: http://gallery.uunet.be/Dochterland/
"I live that long because I do not die"
Louise De Ruyver, oldest Belgian (110)

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