ICBN or BS

Zdenek Skála skala at INCOMA.CZ
Tue Jul 17 08:56:15 CDT 2001


Well, I did not intened to propose a solution for the English speaking
countries but only to present an example of how can things also be
arranged...

Adolf Ceska wrote:
> Czech need for common names cannot be compared with the situation in
> English speaking countries. Czech language has the declension of nouns and
> adjectives and Latin (or scientific) names cannot be used in Czech
> sentences unless they are in the nominative singular. English language
> doesn't have this problem and you can easily say that you saw "plenty of
> Festuca viridula" without feeling guilty of twisting the language.

I would disagree with this point - perhaps even strongly. First, in Czech
sentences you can easily use Latin names not declensed ("I saw plenty of
Festuca viridula" = "Videl jsem spousty Festuca viridula") and it is of
course widely used, even in the books and papers. Second, the motivation of
Presl brothers, Opiz and other founders of the Czech nomenclature, was
another (as stated by them explicitly): to promote the use of the Czech as a
"high" language in all respects.

My main point was that the real common names are far from being parallel to
the scientific names in many respects: in the taxonomic focus (sometimes
they cover large number of species with one name, sometimes they differ
among tiny varieties), in the distribution (they are often "common" to only
some regions even within one language), or in the higher-taxa concept (e.g.
Geum urbanum and Agrimonia eupatoria are two members of one "genus" in the
Czech common etymology). Hence, *if* there would be need for the "common"
names in English that would be useful for wide public, it is necessary to
develop some new nomeclature that can effectively parallel to the scientific
names - not to simply refer to the existing common names. It is not to say
that developing such nomenclature is a good idea.
Best!
Zdenek Skala




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