[Taxacom] (no subject)

Christopher Taylor gerarus at westnet.com.au
Tue Feb 19 07:24:04 CST 2008

> In the context of a single particular species, I'd write "une fagacée"
> (French and singular), in preference to "une Fagaceae" (Latin and
> plural). With animal families, this would translate in, e.g., "an
> icterid", rather than "an Icteridae". I don't know if there would be a
> possible similar English construction for plant family names...?

In English, you could refer to "a fagacean" or "a fagaceous plant".
However, both of these sound a little awkward compared to "one of the
Fagaceae". Simply referring to "a Fagaceae" would sound all wrong,

I would agree about the ability in English to refer to higher taxon
names as either a singular or plural. I've always thought of it as
depending on whether you're referring to the taxon as a unit compared to
separate units ("Fagaceae is a smaller family than Asteraceae"), or as a
collection of smaller units ("Fagaceae are trees found in temperate
climates"). I've been trying to think of other words that may also be
singular or plural - one example that comes to mind could be terms such
as "tribe" or "race" when referring to groups of people - "The Swedish
race originates from the north of Europe" vs. "The Swedish race are
great lovers of herring", for instance*.

*My apologies to any Swedish readers.


        Christopher Taylor

Christopher Taylor
Dept of Environmental Biology
Curtin University of Technology
GPO Box U1987
Perth 6845
Western Australia


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