[Taxacom] (no subject)

Spies, Martin spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de
Tue Feb 19 04:41:49 CST 2008

Josef Greimler wrote:

> 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 ...". 

The facts remain that:
1) not everyone writes it that way - whether in German, English or any 
other comparable language; and
2) the problem is solved by omitting the article, as in the example I 
gave earlier.

The example you gave shows precisely that a verb in the plural form is 
NOT logical in such contexts. Whether in German or in English, 'The 
Fagaceae consist of woody plants ...' is illogical, because the 
(multitude of) plants in family Fagaceae ARE, but do not (all, i.e. each 
and every plant) CONSIST of woody plants. Instead, 'Fagaceae consists of 
woody plants ...' is logically appropriate. Q.e.d.

> I think that we always have an extended subject in mind when using a 
> familiy
> name.

Sorry, but I contest that, and would like to leave authors the freedom 
to express by using either singular or plural exactly what they have in 
mind in each particular instance.

> In my view something like "members of Fagaceae" or "the family of
> Fagaceae" applies to both cases.

Not when, e.g., clades are discussed and compared, as in the example I 
gave yesterday.

Martin Spies
c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen

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