[Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat May 29 02:17:09 CDT 2010

> All these technical terms have precisely defined meanings

Now THAT I really do doubt!

>"The International code of zoological nomenclature and the International code of nomenclature of bacteria use the terms “objective synonym” and  “subjective synonym” for nomenclatural and taxonomic synonym,  respectively."

Precisely! But different combinations are surely taxonomic (=subjective) synonyms (if you want to think of them as synonyms at all), NOT nomenclatural (=objective synonyms)! They are the result of subjective taxonomic judgements! Nevertheless, they are "homotypic", but perhaps "homotypic" and "objective synonym" are not quite (dare I say it!!) synonymous!

Looking at how the ICZN has worded things in their opinions etc. in the past leads me to a possible solution of sorts:

One could say that the name bus, as used in the combination Aus bus, is an objective synonym of the name bus, as used in the combination Cus bus (but trivially so, as it is the same darn name, as Mike has rightly pointed out!)

So, when discussing synonymy at the species level, it isn't about synonymy between binomials, but between specific epithets as used in specified combinations...


From: "dipteryx at freeler.nl" <dipteryx at freeler.nl>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Sat, 29 May, 2010 7:05:47 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Curtis Clark
Verzonden: za 29-5-2010 7:17

> I had been led to understand that "objective synonym" was the same 
> as a botanical "nomenclatural synonym"; nomenclatural synonyms are 
> by definition homotypic. As I learned synonymy, the homotypic /Encelia 
> nutans/ Eastwood and /Enceliopsis nutans/ (Eastwood) A. Nelson are 
> synonyms, and I find nothing in the ICBN to contradict that. Perhaps 
> the issue is that in botanical nomenclature such names do not have the
> same authorship, because the codes deal with authorship in a subtly 
> different way.

The footnote to Art. 14 (ICBN):
"The International code of zoological nomenclature and the International
code of nomenclature of bacteria use the terms “objective synonym” and 
“subjective synonym” for nomenclatural and taxonomic synonym, 

Hypothetically his could be wrong (it is quite dangerous to make statements
on more than one Code), but I don't see how it can be. Obviously, both
/Uncia uncia/ and /Panthera uncia/ are scientific names in the rank of
species. The fact that they are binominal names (consisting in turn of 
two names: a generic name and a specific name) is a headache, but not
particularly relevant.

Thus /Uncia uncia/ and /Panthera uncia/ are synonyms ("Each of two or more 
names of the same rank used to denote the same taxonomic taxon."). As they 
have the same name-bearing type, they are "objective synonyms". That any
choice to adopt one over the other as the valid name requires taxonomic
judgement (has a 'subjective' element) is also irrelevant. All these 
technical terms have precisely defined meanings: just thinking up 
meanings for oneself is a recipe for disaster. 


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