"Arcane" / "prevailing usage"
dipteryx at FREELER.NL
Sun Aug 25 12:30:37 CDT 2002
From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
> I would argue that one great misnomer regarding the word "stability" is
that it does not mean unalterable - which I think is how many read it as.
It means consistency of procedure.
> The stability in the world of nomenclature is fulfilled when all
participants are playing by the same rules, or one could say within
specific rules. Some play by ICZN rules others by ICBN rules others want
to play by Phylocode rules etc.
+ + +
As far as I can see stability means "names not being altered". Certainly
this is the prevailing usage! s.l. ;-) in the botanical world: see Regnum
Vegetabile 123: _Improving the Stability of Names: Needs and Options_
(1991). Stability has nothing to do with following rules.
Stability is threathened by two types of changes: taxonomic and
- Changes for taxonomic reasons are unavoidable, although the
PhyloCode does have a point when these reasons involve rank. It it is an odd
fact that changes in rank (above the level of species) never have any effect
on names except when this rank concerns a genus, in which case the name
changes, sometimes beyond recognition.
- Changes for nomenclatural reasons (priority) are often quite ugly, as in
when a name established for 150 years is upset because somebody decided to
take seriously a book (unearthed from a small back room in an old library)
that wiser heads had consistently ignored. Fortunately such changes can now
be somewhat combatted in the ICBN by conservation and rejection of both
generic names and specific epithets and by rejecting dubious books.
The thread seems to be branching out. Initially it was about gender, a topic
that the ICBN has Rules about since the 1988 edition of the Code. It then
quickly took up standardization of endings, which in the ICBN has
been restricted to standard endings of surnames of persons in a modern
language, becoming a Rule in 1978. Otherwise orthography and standardization
in the ICBN are very restricted (mostly to transcription of non-Latin
characters). However these topics remain sources of debate and unhappiness.
Nevertheless I do get the impression the ICBN is ahead of the ICZN in this
Paul van Rijckevorsel
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