ICBN too

Ron at Ron at
Wed Jul 18 00:38:30 CDT 2001

Just returned from two days in the field to find 81 emails!!  I think that
is a new personal record. I am at numer 68 here.  Two comments below.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Lammers" <lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU>
Subject: Re: ICBN too
> At 09:04 AM 7/16/01 -0700, you wrote:
> I would argue that the common name for the species is still Nuttall's
> Oak.  Why not?

I was going to post this same point. So yes, Nuttall's it still commonly
is. Why not tons of common names are technically misleading - i.e. Box
Elder below. How about all the "Junipers" that are not too.

> with.  But it seems patently silly to create a parallel system of
> English language names (e.g., "yellow-green bristly sedge") where none
> exist.  That's where a lot of this is heading and I think we need to
> educate our clients to the point where they see the silliness and waste
> it, too.

Now this line is what prompted me to post.  The only thing that will get
Linnaeus to not only roll over, but rise from the dead, is a return to the
idiotic call-it-whatever-you-want common names system he was trying to
_replace_.  The White Rose With A Pink Center On A Low Bush With Short
Thrones That Grows In Africa  -breath- names of his day.  I will also
remind us that anyone with any education in 1600 _knew Latin_. Rosa alba
was perfectly understandable to anyone with half an education. My mother
was born in 1910.  She attended a one room school in New Providence, Iowa
with several grades present with her senior class (of about 5).  This would
have been about 1918. Guess what classes dumb old grandma _had_ to take in
hicksville Iowa?  Latin, Physics, Geometry etc. I bet the people of
Grandma's day had more education out of High School than the vast majority
with "diplomas" from Iowa University today.

Dumbing down is now an American right. If a kid spells cat - kat - it is
somehow his ethnic right. Ya'll are smart enough to finish out the rest of
this editorial section...

When I was in the North Carolina mountains this morning some hikers came
by. What are you doing?  Butterflies.... research... you know the stuff we
all say.  Pointing to a tiny all dark brown Lepidoptera, she asked what is
that?  I said a "vestris". Oh, she said as if she understood perfectly.
Would she have understood better had I said "it is a Dun Skipper."  You
know what, the only reason any of you understand a word of this post is
because you know how to read English. Point?  We are talking about language
and understanding - communication.  In communicating the natural world it
does not matter one bit what "language" one hears in - Latinized
nomenclature or common names in our case. It only matters what one
understands. Every 5 year old in America hears and understands perfectly
(by word and eye association) Tyrannosaurus rex (thanks to Jurassic Park I,
II and soon III). Now, ask them to go get the Tyrant King, or Terrible
Lizard, etc.  and watch them look at you like you are from Mars.

I hope we think about this post long and hard. Why?  The real issue is
stupidity - no ignorance.  Why should we contribute to dumbing down America
(the world) by thinking we are doing a service by proving a dumbed down
nomenclature called "common names". If kids in grade school were still
required to learn the "classic" languages - Rosa alba would do just fine.

Now, I use common names for a number of things like - water, gold
(elements/ minerals), oaks, asters, mould (plants/fungi), lion, turtle,
butterfly, Blue Bird, Kat Fish  (animals/reptiles/insects/) and on and on.
Oh course there is a BIG place for common names. But it bothers me when the
tone of some is almost apologetic about scientific terminology. This should
not be so. There is the alcoholic and the enabler. There are the ignorant
(can I use all caps?) LETS NOT BE THE ENABLERS. We are not being A-holes or
inconsiderate elitists - we are being educators. Teach it and they will
know it. Supercalafragalisticexpealidosus (sp?). OR, for the over 55
Americans -
en - cyc - lo - p-e-d-i-a, Mic key M-o-u-s-e.

Ron Gatrelle

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