Vernacular names

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Fri Jul 25 09:27:49 CDT 2003

At 12:16 PM 7/25/03 +1000, Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU wrote:
>Yes, "kangaroo" is a perfectly good word in the Guugu Yimidhirr language
>- but it's meaning, often given as a "black" species of macropod is
>misleading. As far as I can tell, it refers to a dark "form" of the
>Eastern Grey Kangaroo.
>Again on mistaken names: I once diligently recorded the name of a
>locality in Papua New Guinea as "Suit Meri". Only later, having learned
>a little pidgin, did I realise that it means to have sex with the girls
>- not the name, but what my respondent did there!

Harold St. John at Bishop Museum once told me that when Warren "Herb"
Wagner, Jr. was a grad student in the Forties, he came in with a bunch of
specimens he had collected at a place called Kapu.  He had mistaken posted
"keep out" signs ("kapu" is the Hawaiian cognate of Tahitian "taboo") as
the name of the place.

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
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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