[Taxacom] ICZN Opinion 105

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Tue May 17 10:57:31 CDT 2011


I certainly agree with your hypothesis that longer names are more likely 
to be misspelled.  But, I don't see that as sufficient reason to insist 
on short names.  Long numbers are more likely to be mistyped, long 
sentences more likely to be misquoted and misunderstood etc., but we 
deal with these every day and still make it through.

Something else that should enter into the quality of a name is the 
mnemonic factor.  If there is something that makes it easily remembered 
(your "easily memorable"), then I think that should outweigh length and 
likelihood of being misspelled.  As Adam Cotton noted, 
"Brassolaeliocattleya" is of hybrid origin and that makes it easy to 
remember the three components of the name.


Dick J

On 5/17/2011 12:38 PM, Francisco Welter-Schultes wrote:
> Dick,
> Recently there has been a discussion in the [iczn-list] mailing list,
> an English native speaker proposed to compose a short guide for
> establishing new names, and insisted on including a bullet point that
> the pronounciation of the new name should be specified, in the
> form "see-men-kya-vitch". It took long time to convince him that the
> unclear pronounciation of written new words is only a very special
> problem of the English language, and that in most other languages the
> pronounciation of an unknown new word is clear from the spelling.
> The Code cannot give a definition for "easily memorable", but the
> quality of a name in this sense can be tested by trying to find
> the name in GBIF, globalnames or other data aggregators, where
> you can see and count the many different ways such a name has
> subsequently be misspelled since it was established.
> The correlation between length of a name and the number of recorded
> misspellings could also be researched by this method. I would
> generally predict a relationship "the longer the name the higher the
> likelihood for misspellings, and the higher the number of recorded
> different spellings in GBIF".
> Selecting a name that will be easily misspelled will provide
> obstacles to future scientists who need to find information published
> on the species.
> Francisco
> University of Goettingen, Germany
> www.animalbase.org

Richard J. Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674

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