Rankless English orthography AND proper names

Robin Leech robinl at CONNECT.AB.CA
Mon Mar 13 18:16:12 CST 2000

The answer is convention.  By convention, we write Canidae for the
scientific name, but canid for the common or anglicized name.  Same goes for
plant families: Leguminosae vs legume; Asteraceae vs aster; etc.
Robin Leech
----- Original Message -----
From: Thomas Schlemmermeyer <termites at usp.br>
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2000 5:15 AM
Subject: Re: Rankless English orthography AND proper names

> Sorry, I had not the opportunity to follow the whole thread, but in my
> "Rosaceae" is a proper name and has therefore to be used without definite
> article. This has, so far, nothing to do with the question whether
Rosaceae be
> a clade, a monophyletic group, a taxon, or anything else. From a
> point of view it is simply a proper name.
> And that leads me to a problem: Why do those taxonomists always write
> scientific proper names with capital letters (Rosaceae), while the
> corresponding vernacular names (roses) are usually written without capital
> letters?
> On (         Fri, 10 Mar 2000 11:45:22 +010),         Pierre Deleporte
> <Pierre.Deleporte at UNIV-RENNES1.FR> wrote:
> >A 12:25 09/03/00 Mark A. Garland wrote:
> >
> >>Dr. Gurcharan Singh writes:
> >>
> >>> It will be more appropriate to use the expression "The family Rosaceae
> >>is........"
> >>
> >>What do you say if you get rid of ranks?  "The real historical lineage
> >>Rosaceae is.."?
> >
> >Why not simply "The clade Rosaceae is"? If clade is understood as
> >"monophyletic group", then this is implicit in Tom DiBenedetto's use of:
> >"The Rosaceae is", meaning: "This single object constituted by the clade
> >currently named "Rosaceae" is...". Perhaps it is not formally
> >correct to suppress the term "clade" in this sentence, but the context of
> >the paper could have already made clear that the author meant "the clade"
> >when saying "Rosacea is". Editors should be delighted in saving one word.
> >
> >Maybe we are facing the problem that plural latin nouns are still used by
> >convention to name what are now possibly considered as individual clades
> >and not only series of objects gathered by convenience.
> >Anyway this should surely not preclude the use of "The Rosaceae are", the
> >two locutions  would simply not mean the same thing, being respectively
> >for: "The clade Rosaceae is" versus "The individuals (or species, or
> >anything specified or not) constituting the clade Rosacea are..." (see
> >note of Richard Jensen on this topic).
> >Readers aware of the current two ways of considering "Rosaceae" would
> >understand this difference.
> >
> >Humble opinion of a French guy struggling with this unvoidable scientific
> >English.
> >
> >Note that in French (I translate word-for-word): "The police is", while
> >only "The policemen are" and never "The police are" (quite atrocious to
> >ears! Police is singular, and obviously feminine as anyone should know);
> >and also "The family of the Rosacea is", and "The Rosacea are", while
> >"Rosacea are" without the article "the" is impossible... however "Rosacea
> >and Cyperacea are" could work without the articles, but in a rather
> >or emphatic style that we would'nt use in a scientific paper...
> >...now you will get some notion of the difficulty, and understand why the
> >misuse of "the" (or undue omission of "the") is one of the most frequent
> >mistakes made by French writers in English, hence the lasting doubts of
> >many of us in a field where the "sounds well" criterion is of little
> >
> >Rules could help, provided that they integrate modern systematic notions
> >like singularity of individual clades.
> >(BTW I can tell you that the French speaking part of my brain was tempted
> >to put two or three additional "the" in the last sentence...!).
> >
> >cheers
> >Pierre
> >
> >
> >Pierre Deleporte
> >CNRS UMR 6552 - Station Biologique de Paimpont
> >F-35380 Paimpont   FRANCE
> >Téléphone : 02 99 61 81 66
> >Télécopie : 02 99 61 81 88
> >
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Thomas Schlemmermeyer
> Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo
> Caixa Postal 42694
> CEP 04299-970
> São Paulo, SP, Brasil
> Residência:
> Thomas Schlemmermeyer
> Caixa Postal 00276
> CEP 14001-970
> Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil
> Fone, Fax: 016 6371999
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

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