[Taxacom] Help sought - re. spelling of Rhamnoides.

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Dec 28 02:55:26 CST 2007

From: "Mario Blanco" <mblanco at flmnh.ufl.edu>
My interpretation from Article 60.6 is that the diaeresis can be used 
whenever there are two consecutive vowels, except when these are derived 
from one of the ligatures "ae" and "oe" (the spellings of Cephaelis and 
Isoetes are not derived from these ligatures).  Precisely because there 
is no ligature "oi", the diaeresis can be used if so desired, and the 
use of "Rhamnoïdes" is permitted (although not commonly used).

No, I feel Jacques Melot is right.  Remember Principle V:
"Scientific names of taxonomic groups are treated as Latin regardless of 
their derivation."

This applies here: the diaeresis may be used where it is useful in a Latin word, that is in a Latin word as being Latin (botanical Latin in particular): in Latin the -oides is unambiguous, so it never takes a diaeresis. In Latin -ae- is ambiguous (either -æ- or -aë-) so a diaeresis is helpful. Users of different linguistic backgrounds may pronounce botanical names differently (and they do!): I have no difficulty whatsoever to pronounce Rhamnoides with a short -o- and an -i-, but an English speaker might not understand what I refer to. Anyway, it would be farfetched to start putting in a diaeresis, or not, depending on the language of the publication (and the reader): botanical names are supposed to be the same the world over, with only one correct spelling.

The curious thing is that the diaeresis is falling into disuse when it is most needed. The classic botanical texts used both the ligature (-æ-) and the diaeresis (-aë-), while not using separate letters -ae-: this made the distinction redundantly clear. Today the ligature is disallowed, and knowledge of Latin is on the decrease, so that the change of confusion is greater than ever (how many people these days would instantly recognize that Hippophae has two vowels at the end?). 


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