spies at ZI.BIOLOGIE.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Thu Aug 15 19:14:39 CDT 2002
Gregory Zolnerowich wrote:
> Bill Shear mentions ways around the arcane rules by using nouns in
> apposition or designating each name as an arbitrary combination or
> letters. Martin Spies takes me to task in the belief that dropping
> the language rules would weaken the science of systematics.
> Like the language rules, hand-cranked telephones were interesting and
> have an air of comfort and nostalgia, but there are better and more
> important things now.
apposition / designating / arbitrary / combination / science /
systematics / telephones / interesting / nostalgia / important
The top list contains selected words from Greg's second mail,
the bottom a pair of scientific species epithets from a genus
of chironomid Diptera ('legally' formed and in the books
Which way do you think is easier for a child, a foreigner or
a beginning taxonomist to learn these words and keep them
in long-term memory, in a way that enables the person to
keep applying and spelling them correctly:
A) By heart, that is without any background or association
as to their derivation,
B) By way of their etymology (in the botanical literature
still called derivatio nominis)?
How do people learn such items if there is no ready
association of meaning available to help them learn?
They help themselves with what we call a 'donkey's bridge'
in German: an easily remembered term that's highly
similar (remember the 'sounds like' category in the
game of Charades?).
Why do the Codes recommend to taxonomic authors
to supply a note on the etymology of their new scientific
Which of the two species names - B. glacialis and B. mdfrc -
do you think will be misspelled more often in the future,
and why do you think that'll be?
So, isn't there a very practical reason for using words
whose meaning you know and with whom your brain
combines a bunch of associations besides the mere sequence
of letters, and for knowing what you're talking about?
Email: spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de
Tel. (ZSM) +49 89 8107 153
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