"arcane" rules/was gender of -opsis

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Thu Aug 15 14:03:29 CDT 2002

At 11:44 AM 8/15/02 -0700, Doug Yanega wrote:

>Our gripe has only a little to do with learning to
>use the Code, and more with the impractical hoops it forces people to
>jump through. MORE than 95% of the time, the only *absolutely*
>definitive answer comes when one has the original descriptions IN
>HAND, and the Code cannot run to the library *for* you.

Again, the original literature is a basic tool of the trade.  I've
assembled ~98% of the protologues for all names at all ranks in the family
of 2500 spp. (and their multitudinous synonyms!) that I specialize in
.  It's all in binders and occupies over 10 ft of shelf space.  It wasn't
much fun tracking it down and assembling it; it took YEARS to do so.  But I
*had* to assemble it in order to do what I do.   If you are a practicing
taxonomist, you HAVE to do this.  Not for EVERY name in the world, but in
the taxon that you specialize in.  As long as someone specializes in a
taxon, someone should be able to answer such questions for generalists
doing floristic/faunistic work, ecological work, databasing, etc.  You need
to know the correct name of something in Campanulaceae, you ask me.  I can
find the answer in 5 minutes, more often than not.  Why?  BECAUSE I TOOK

And in this day and age, old literature is easier than ever to locate.  Got
old books in Latin you need?  Check out:

 >If a taxonomist has to sit on their hands for SIX MONTHS while tracking
down a copy of an original paper from 1833 just to see whether an author
stated a name was intended to be one gender or another, just to determine
the proper conjugation of an epithet, then that is one heck of a lousy hoop
to have to jump through just for the sake of scholarship.<

Again, if the literature in question pertains to the taxonomist's group of
specialization, s/he should have had that piece of literature years
ago.  If it doesn't, then find who does specialize in it.

The present situation re: nomenclature does pose some problems for
folks.  But I guarantee you that any remedy proposed or to be proposed will
cause far more unforseen problems than it will solve, as does any ad hoc
(vs. systemic) fix.  The best solution is for everyone to put in the
gut-work it takes to do things right and clean up the mess left by
predecessors who *didn't* do things according to Hoyle.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and biogeography
of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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