[Taxacom] Species-level homonyms - between/within codes

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Wed Nov 10 02:31:12 CST 2010

Van: Tony.Rees at csiro.au [mailto:Tony.Rees at csiro.au]
Verzonden: di 9-11-2010 23:33

> Dear Rich, list members,

> I think there is a disconnect between what the Code governs i.e. 
> nomenclatural acts - creation and usage of family-group, genus-group,
> and species-group names (i.e., the epithet portion only), and the 
> combination of genus-group name and species epithet (i.e. binomen) 
> that for practical purposes constitutes the actual species name 
> (taxon name at species level), but are considered to be taxonomic 
> as opposed to nomenclatural actions. 

I don't see any such disconnect, but certainly the binomen does not 
constitute the actual species name (taxon name at species level), 
"for practical purposes" but it does so by definition. See for 
example in the Glossary:

    "species name or name of a species
     A scientific name of a taxon at the rank of species.
     A binomen, the combination of a generic name and a specific 
     name [...]."
* * *

> [...] Simply because something is not defined in the Code does
> not preclude it from existing outside the scope of governance 
> of the Code (which is confined to nomenclature), I would submit.

This is a non-statement if ever I saw one!
I exist outside the scope of governance of the Code (as do all
other list members). The laptop beside me exists outside the scope 
of governance of the Code. Etc.
* * *

> In other words I have not seen any compelling argument that
> binomial homonyms do not exist in zoology, and therefore if
> they exist in zoology, they can equally exist between Codes 
> as well - unless someone would like to put the counter-argument??

Well, that all depends. Of course you can talk about "binominal 
homonyms", but they are much like your "specific epithets". You 
can use whatever words you like (instead of "specific epithets"
you could call them "small names" or "species indicators", or 
whatever). How far this is meaningful depends on your target 
audience, and on what you agreements you have made with your 
target audience.

However, nomenclaturally it is different. There is separate
nomenclatural universe governed by the zoological Code
(and separate nomenclatural universes governed by the 
botanical Code, the bacteriological Code, etc. The 
zoological nomenclatural universe is "leakier" than the
botanical one, and presumably the bacteriological is 
neater still, but that will be because the bacteriologists 
shrunk their universe by wiping out the sloppier part of 
their universe with one fell swoop).

In the zoological nomenclatural universe binominal 
homonyms (or specific epithets) do not exist. The by now 
oft-quoted definition of a homonym represents a very 
definitive delimitation:
   "(3) In the species group: each of two or more available 
     specific or subspecific names having the same spelling,
     or spellings deemed under Article 58 to be the same,
     and established for different nominal taxa, and either 
     originally (primary homonymy) or subsequently 
    (secondary homonymy) combined with the same 
     generic name [Art. 53.3]. [...]"

As to "[homonyms] can equally exist between Codes as well",
I do not see how Art 52.7 could be more explicit:
   "52.7. Homonymy with names of taxa which are not animals. 
   The name of an animal taxon identical with the name of a 
   taxon which has never been treated as animal is not a 
   homonym for the purposes of zoological nomenclature "

There may be different usages in zoology in general, or in any
selected group of zoologists (or other persons) with their own 
shared values and terms. However, in my view, anybody using
technical terms would be well advised to be aware of (and 
precise about) as to what frame of reference he is operating in.
In this case, to be clear that you are not expressing yourself 
in a nomenclatural sense, but in a different sense, and what 
sense that may be.

I do like "homograph", which is the best suggestion yet. There 
is hope that this will remain unambiguous!


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