[Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Gary Rosenberg rosenberg at ansp.org
Sun May 30 11:01:04 CDT 2010

>>>So, do we really need a new word to describe the items listed in a synonymy? Won't 'synonym' do?

There is a word: chresonym. See <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chresonym>.

Going back to the original statement from Wikipedia that started this thread off (I sent this yesterday, but apparently it didn't go through):

>>>The specific assertion is that neither /Uncia uncia/ and /Panthera 
uncia/ are synonyms, nor are /Canis familiaris/ and /Canis lupus  familiaris/.

Following the definitions in the Glossary of the ICZN for synonym, objective synonym, species name, subspecies name, specific name and subspecific name:

Uncia uncia and Panthera uncia are both species names. They are different names, they have the same rank and the same type, so they are objective synonyms.

Canis familiaris is a species name and Canis lupus familiaris is a subspecies name; they are different names, have the same type, but not the same rank, so they are not objective synonyms. (In the former, "familiaris" is a specific name but in the later it is a subspecific name, but it is still the same name, so not an objective synonym as only one name is involved.)

It seems undesirable that these examples reach opposite conclusions: either both should be considered cases of objective synonymy or neither should. The solution in a revised code might be to adopt the concept of chresonyms. Synonymy would then be a relationship between original names, and chresonymy would be the relationship of changes in combination, interpolated name, rank, or spelling to the original name. The ICZN could also use the botanical concept of final epithet (Canis familiaris and Canis lupus familiaris have the same final epithet)

Gary Rosenberg
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia

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