[Taxacom] Language tags for scientific names

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Fri Jun 27 17:41:35 CDT 2008

In message <00ab01c8d88d$c22349a0$2b4c4451 at magnifica2>, Paul van
Rijckevorsel <dipteryx at freeler.nl> writes

>> Where did I say that "it is not the purpose of language markup to
>> indicate different languages"?

>Actually, right there.

I said no such thing.

> There is no basic difference between
><span lang="en">tree</span>
><span lang="nl">tree</span>
><span lang="ICBN">Pieris japonica</span>
><span lang="ICZN">Pieris japonica</span>
>both are cases of completely different words, in different languages,

Of course there is a basic difference. The former pair uses two real,
and different languages. You seem to be under the misapprehension that
taxonomic names published under different codes are in different
languages. That's not the case, certainly from an IETF-languages point
of view [*]. Furthermore, in your latter pair, neither "ICBN" nor "ICZN"
is a valid language tag.

>having completely different meanings; they just happen to have the same

Likewise the different meanings of "feet" - still in the same language.

> If one is a valid way of mark-up then so is the other.

That's an opinion, based on an unreliable, if not downright false,
premise; it is not a fact.

>This will still leave the reader to deal with circumscription: any
>particular name under the ICBN may well have wildly varying

I don't know what you mean by "circumscription" - please explain.

>It is hard enough as it is to explain to the general public that any
>particular name for a plant group may have quite different meanings
>(with only a partial overlap), depending on the author who uses it,
>without adding extra complications.

It is not the job of language markup to define such meaning.


Taxonomic names do not constitute one language, let alone several,
languages. As we have already seen, persuading the IETF-languages folk
that taxonomic names should be treated /like/ a language is not going to
be easy; I think it reasonable to assume that persuading them that four
or five such languages exist will be nigh on impossible.

Other methods for differentiating with an additional level of
granularity already exist. One such example would be:

        <span lang="tax" class="ICBN">Pieris japonica</span>

Andy Mabbett

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