even More on vernacular names

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at ISTAR.CA
Sun Mar 6 20:11:18 CST 2005

Curtis Clark wrote:

> Since the publication of the Jepson Manual, it is not uncommon to hear
> biologists say "Whatever they are calling Orthocarpus purpurascens now"
> (Castilleja exserta). But they all know "purple owl's-clover", a
> vernacular name that is suddenly more useful than it was before.

* and this is a function for common names that hasn't been mentioned
before in this thread - as a redundancy that serves as a bridge when
scientific names are changed. If one sees, e.g., "Otocoris" in an old
book about birds, there's nothing to immediately tie it to "Eremophila"
until it's also called "Horned Lark", and then the common epithet
"alpestris" suggests the existence and nature of a nomenclatoral change.
There's no guarantee - but most of the time, when there is a stable
system of common names, it's pretty efficient.

This use of common names is defeated when the common name is changed
when the scientific name changes (a form of being 'tied to types' as
described in the deleted parts of Curtis Clark's message), as in the
case of "Glossy" or "Shining" Buckthorn becoming "Alder Buckthorn" when
it goes from Rhamnus frangula to Frangula alnus - even when the native
species is already Rhamnus alnifolia, and widely called "Alder-leaved
Buckthorn" (see if you can tell which of these English names are
non-vernacular translations of the Linnean names).

           Bishops Mills Natural History Centre
Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad, Jennifer Helene Schueler
      RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
   on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
     (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at istar.ca> http://pinicola.ca
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