To hyphenate or not to hyphenate

B.J.Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Thu Oct 30 12:20:16 CST 2003

Well, we also tend to foget the virologists too, who have complete lists of
names. Bacteriology was essentially forced to make a major revision simply
because some descriptions were so vague you simply couldn't work out what
was meant. In other cases there were no types and when things are that
small all "poorly described rods" look the same. I would also like to point
out that bacteriology does not "breach" with the past. The type of the
genus Treponema Schaudinn 1905 is Treponema pallidum and there isn't an
isolted type strain, but we all know what causes syphilis. We also retained
the genus Bacillus Cohn 1872, despite the fact that this is also an insect
genus name - no-one is perfect. The "new starting date" is 1.1.1980, but it
doesn't mean to have to erase the past.

As for a MetaCode - well one objective of the BioCode was to identify the
"common ground" - and there was far more than most people believed at the
beginning. It is rather interesting to see that the PhyloCode used the
BioCode as its basis (let's leave out the question of whether it is a good
idea). If you would prefer a MetaCode, that may also be okay, but at some
point you have to work out the similarities and differences between the
different Codes, which has already been outlined in the BioCode, even if it
isn't that obvious at a first glance. The list of terms which were drawn up
showed where certain concepts seemed to clash because similar terms were
used to mean fairly different things. I suppose it also depends on whether
you see something like the BioCode as a conceptual straight-jacket or a
framework within which to work.

In updating the Bacteriological Code the BioCode was quite helpful in
sorting out some of the problems and also in identifying concepts which
were not necessarily explicit. Compared to the ICBN the Bacteriological
Codes (it was initially derived from the ICBN) is a smaller volume. I think
it isn't that user unfriendly, but there are only about 5-10 people
worldwide who really have bothered to study it. The majority consider it to
be a nightmare. User friendly depends on the user ;_)

At 11:38 30.10.2003 +0100, Paul van Rijckevorsel wrote:
>Some thoughts: the question of how long a tradition exists would appear
>irrelevant, it is not a matter of earning the right to use a particular
>Code! At some point in the past choices were made as to what groups were
>treated according to what Code, and this is "tradition".
>As to the question if each monophyletic group should have its own Code, this
>is somewhat disturbing. A new manifestation of phylogenetic thinking to come
>along and upset nomenclature? Each such Code could be more effective in the
>sense it can provide examples fitting the group in question, thus improving
>readability. Also it might be easier to make decisions on controversial
>matters (the Bacterial people are the only one to come up with a clean-swept
>list of names?). Still the mind shudders at where this might end. How many
>Codes would this result in? What if views shift on what constitutes a
>particular monophyletic group? This would necessitate the merging or
>splitting of Codes?
>Just an idle thought: for a while there were multiple versions of the
>Botanical Rules (French, English and German). Maybe what should be the Code
>of the future is not ONE BioCode, but a MetaCode that sets a general
>framework of Rules, and separate Codes for the relevant groups, that follow
>the MetaCode but each have their own examples, perhaps their own terminology
>("valid"/"correct"), special rules for special situations, and their own
>lists of names with special status (the actual ICBN is only a 104 pages but
>has 258 pages with such names, not counting families). Such special Codes
>would be user-friendly, and would limit the extent of a breach with the
>Paul van Rijckevorsel
>Utrecht, NL

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