[Taxacom] ICZN Opinion 105

Weakley, Alan S weakley at bio.unc.edu
Tue May 17 11:40:50 CDT 2011


So, I am a botanist, which may be why I find this whole discussion somewhat strange...  

I don't know how "euphony" can reasonably be judged, especially without cultural biases.  Should eastern Europeans no longer be commemorated because many of us find their names to be overly consonantal?  I may find Krzyzewski difficult, but someone else may find the "th" in Smith impossible to produce and distinctly uneuphonious.

Likewise with length (I'm afraid the slavs are in for it, again).  But Chinese especially favored in commemoratives, because their names are short and sweet?

Many new generic names are coined that are based on a previous name:  Lycopodiella and Pseudolycopodiella, Prenanthes and Prenanthella, Selaginella and Selaginelloides, et cetera ad infinitum.  These would almost always violate a length of 7 or 8 characters, but are actually especially memorable and are helpful in retaining a historic allusion (if not always an accurate suggestion of true relationship).  

I just don't think these things can or should be legislated.  

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of John Noyes
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:13 PM
To: Richard Jensen; fwelter at gwdg.de
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN Opinion 105

Hi guys,

Yes, but in my view long names are a pain and not necessary. I think it should be possible to limit new names to a maximum of 7 or 8 characters.
That should be enough to make them pronounceable and memorable. It also makes a binomen a hell of a lot easier and less tiring to write, especially on determination labels if required. 

A combination name, such as "Brassolaeliocattleya", is only easy to remember for those who know the original names, and just imagine if it were to be used as the stem for a new family group name!

John

John Noyes
Scientific Associate
Department of Entomology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD
UK
jsn at nhm.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229
 
Universal Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about chalcidoids and more):
www.nhm.ac.uk/chalcidoids 

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Jensen
Sent: 17 May 2011 16:58
To: fwelter at gwdg.de
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN Opinion 105

Francisco,

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.

Cheers,

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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