gender of -opsis?

Ron at Ron at
Thu Aug 15 12:24:49 CDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gregory Zolnerowich" <gzolnero at OZNET.KSU.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: gender of -opsis?

> Doesn't the multitude of different answers and interpretations, even
> by the Latin and Greek geeks, argue for abandoning these ancient and
> arcane language rules?
> Greg Zolnerowich
> --

In a word ... No.  I am not a highly educated person, but when I started
(1970s) to get interested in systematics and taxonomy (described my first
taxon in 1974 and it is still on the "books"), I realized I needed to buy a
copy of the ICZN and familiarize myself with it.  By profession I am a
preacher.  So if preachers can become pretty familiar with the codes so
should biologists if they do any taxonomic work whatsoever.   I also don't
know a thing about Latin or Greek.   But note that as a preacher, going
back to the "original" Greek is often something I have to do in that job.
So one has to either 1) have some good study aids or 2) know someone who
got A-s in Greek in college.  I do a bit to both.

As has been pointed out on this opsis thread, the ZN code has guides right
in it for dead language dummies like me.  The differing opinions do not
point to fault in the Code, they just reflect that a lot of people are not
knowledgeable of its details - and details, splitting hairs, is what it is
all about.  The codes are in a world all of their own - nomenclature.  It
is not constructed to make systematic decisions by or assist catalogers.
They are designed so the all scientists all over the world (languages) and
over centuries will be able to communicate (understand) precisely in
matters nomenclatorial.

Yah, the gender associational stuff gets old.  Its a pain sometimes.  But
much of what systematists do is a detailed pain - work.  A friend of mine
in Miami, Florida hangs wall paper.  He works for just one big building
here as their renters, high end professionals like lawyer and doctor
offices, move in and out.  My son worked for him one summer 10 or so years
ago.  His work is unbelievable.  I had no idea there were so many kinds of
"wall paper" and was amazed at what he was able to do with it.  When we
discussed this, he said something very simple and yet profound to me.  He
said,  "There aren't many craftsmen anymore."

I have since realize just how true this is in all professions.  The short
cut, making money, recreational activity, there is not enough time to
become craftsmen.  From musical instruments, to clocks, to shoes, to wall
paper, to cabinets, to novelists, to nomenclaturists do we just  want to
just "get the job done" or become a master of our craft?

I see much larger issues reflected in seemingly simply things.  "Do we have
to mess with that?"  I don't believe in warm fuzzy education where we just
pass everyone of the curve.  There are absolutes and standards in human
existence to be met.  Those who don't meet the requirements - fail.  We
need mentors who are craftsmen and meticulous technicians in matters of
nomenclature as well as systematics.  In my area, Lepidoptera, there used
to be some great ones here in the USA, but no longer.   I learned to
respect the ICZN from people like C. F. dos Passos and to appreciate (if
not love) the things about it that we hate.  They make us better craftsmen,
better scientists, for in science the devil (the discovery) is always in
the details.

Ron Gatrelle

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