[Taxacom] Species names

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Mon Feb 18 11:14:31 CST 2008

Shades of past Taxacom debates.

I know many think of family names as plurals because that's exactly what 
they are in Latin. Tod Stuessy and I have debated this point and there 
was an extensive exchange here several years ago. I have not altered my 
view that family names, when used as collectives, take a singular verb. 
Here are two different uses:

1. Fagaceae occur on at least five continents. (the subject here is 
implicity "Members of Fagaceae"; no one occurs on all five continents)

2. Fagaceae consists of woody plants. (here, I use a singular verb 
because the reference is to the family as a whole).

Some have argued that we must use a plural verb because Fagaceae is a 
Latin plural. My reply is, We are not speaking Latin. We are speaking 
English. If the form of the noun in its original language were used to 
decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles 
are a city on the west coast."! That really grates on my ears and nerves.


Dick J

Richard Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674

James L. Reveal wrote:
> However, be aware, that when dealing with suprageneric names which are
> mononomials they should be treated as plurals, e.g., The Campanulaceae are
> ...
> Jim Reveal

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