Vernacular concepts

E. Parmasto e.parmasto at ZBI.EE
Sat Feb 26 16:31:27 CST 2005

In Estonia, there are lists of _accepted_ common
(vernacular) names of plants compiled (and
sometimes changed) by a special Committee since
1918. These names are in use in all key books,
available in web databases, in use in school and
university textbooks and by translators of literary
texts. The list of "official vernacular names" is in no
way equivalent of cultural genocide: 25,342
vernacular names of indigenous and introduced
species have been collected since 1660, available in
G. Vilbaste's book (1993) and in a database
distributed on a floppy disk.  I cannot see any
genocide in the fact that one common name
_nurmenukk_ is in "official" use for Primula veris
instead of all 216  vernacular names.
   The main question is, how the "official lists" have
been / will be compiled - is it a _subjective_ process
or a well established carefully planned by botanists
and linguists system.
Erast Parmasto
> on 2005-02-25 14:28 David Remsen wrote:
> > It seems to me that while there are some groups and
> > attempts to regulate or create "official" lists of vernacular names
> > for a given purpose that this is really a subjective process
> > independent of a more broadly defined objective vernacular concept.
> There are cultural and sociological dimensions as well: to many
> indigenous groups, "official vernacular names" would be the equivalent
> of cultural genocide.
> In fact, I started using the term "vernacular name" instead of "common
> name" because in plants (at least in the United States), there are
> many attempts to regulate "common names", especially of listed species
> (for which common names are invented when they don't already exist).
> I certainly understand that vernacular names can be studied, as well
> as their often complex relationships to binomials and the complex
> taxonomic concepts that underlie them. Regulating them directly works
> against these studies.
> --
> Curtis Clark

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