"arcane" rules/was gender of -opsis

Ron at Ron at
Tue Aug 20 23:47:45 CDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Shattuck" <Steve.Shattuck at CSIRO.AU>

> I'm sorry, but I'm still not convinced that learning Latin grammar helps
> be a better systematist in any meaningful or important way (outside of
> small "club").

Our discussion was not just about grammar but that part that involves
gender.   What the ZN code does is more than just straight up matter of
fact latinization.   For example if we have a species described in a genus
that was masculine and this species is later moved to a genus that is
feminine it does not necessarily follow that the species gender now has to
be changed from masculine to feminine (or visa versa) (see 31.2.2 and
31.2.3 and both examples.)

My point here is that the code does not just follow the "rules" of Latin
grammar.  Some of the linguistic hoops it requires us to jump through are
of its own making.  Actually, our making.   We maketh and we can unmaketh.
We could just as easily have said that  31.2.2 names are to be treated as
adjectives.   We could also just as easily say that all species level names
are to be left as originaly spelled (if properly latinized) - period.
As long as the code is the way it is we are obligated to follow it.  But I
have long been an advocate of finding a way to stop flip flopping the
spelling of species level names every time some "expert's"  taxonomic
opinion says X should be moved to another genus.

(Of course this does prove my previous point that nomenclature is but the
language of nomenclature. How?  A change in taxonomic opinion changes the
nomenclature.  It is never the other way around.  Nomenclature is the
passive and taxonomy is active.)

So to keep the taxonomist's opinions from jerking the nomenclature around
(and back again) every few years, the solution is to cut this tie.  Keep
the rules of simple "latinization" (correct original spelling) but divorce
them from later _subjective_ taxonomic opinion.

Ron Gatrelle

More information about the Taxacom mailing list