[Taxacom] FW: formation of zoological names with Mc, Mac, et

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Wed Sep 2 17:25:43 CDT 2009

>Not to pick on you, Stephen, but
Don't worry, I'm used to that! :)

>I much more often use the author/year information to help me track down the original
>publication in which the name was established
Yes, I know! It is difficult to make what I am saying completely clear, without some "loose talk", but you are missing a point about the context of this discussion. 
Without good databases, we are forced to resort to using author/date as a clue to point us in the direction of the original publication. This leads to a trend to complicate
author/date more and more in order to point more effectively to the original publication. But this is not what author/date was intended for! Given that we are now at a 
stage in history where comprehensive taxonomic databases are in the pipeline (too darn many of them, in fact), I am saying that there is a better way: just have a special
field on the database page for the taxon called 'Original publication', and leave the poor old author/date the way it was intended to be. My made up example, again
(imagine it as part of a database page):

Name: Examplus primus Smith, 1970
Original publication: Smith, A.B., jr. 1970: Revision of Examplus. Journal of hypothetical taxonomy, 1: 1-2. [publication date: 1 January 1970]

Note that the author/date are in the name field (as they are in any sensible taxonomic database), implying that they are part of the name in some meaningful sense, despite an overly pedantic interpretation of the Code denying this! I guess one of the many inconsistencies in the Code is that it says author/date isn't part of the name, but then treats it as part of the name in many contexts...


From: Richard Pyle [deepreef at bishopmuseum.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2009 9:47 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe; 'Chris Lyal'; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] FW: formation of zoological names with Mc, Mac, et

Not to pick on you, Stephen, but:

> The only reason to cite the authority/date with the
> name is as an (imperfect) indication of homonymy and
> priority.

Yes, this is "a" reason.  No, it is not the *only* reason.  I much more
often use the author/year information to help me track down the original
publication in which the name was established, than I do for disambiguating
homonyms or assessing priority. You can make all the claims you want about
what the "real" reason is for citing authorships, but that doesn't change
how I most often *use* that information.  And I don't only use it for that
purpose when wearing my taxonomy-nerd hat; I also use it that way when
wearing my database-nerd hat. I agree with Chris: "shouldn't we be compiling
use cases of what they *are* used for?"


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