[Taxacom] (no subject)

Josef Greimler josef.greimler at univie.ac.at
Tue Feb 19 03:33:44 CST 2008

Interesting points on verb conjugation by Dick Jensen.
Looking at the problem from a German language background I agree with case
(1) and disagree with case (2). I cannot imagine anyone saying: "Die
Fagaceae besteht aus holzigen Pflanzen." Everybody would say: "Die Fagaceae
bestehen (!) aus holzigen Pflanzen ...".
I think that we always have an extended subject in mind when using a familiy
name. In my view something like "members of Fagaceae" or "the family of
Fagaceae" applies to both cases.
Cheers, Josef

Josef Greimler
Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Faculty Center Botany, University of Vienna
A-1030 Vienna, Rennweg 14
Tel. 0043 1 4277-54145
Fax 0043 1 4277-9541

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

josef.greimler at univie.ac.at

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