[Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana?

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Mon Jan 13 12:12:06 CST 2014

On 1/13/14 9:45 AM, Richard Zander wrote:
> A colleague of mine has suggested the following:
> "nanus,-a,-um (adj.A) was a fully acceptable Latin adjective from the mediaeval period to the present day and taxonomists made full use of it in their epithets. It is only taxonomists with classical Latin and Greek backgrounds that resorted to the nouns Nanus and Nana (used as noun-epithets in apposition) perhaps proud of their knowledge that no such adjective existed in the classical period. They knew there never was a 'Nanum' as a noun. It is clear any epithet spelled nanum was an adjective modifying a genus of a neuter gender and could never be used as a noun in apposition except in error."
Apparently, "nanum" was a noun for a watering pot. As such, even if we 
take the comment above as evidence that there is a viable adjectival 
form, all such names would still fall under Art. 31.2.2:

" Where the author of a species-group name did not indicate whether he 
or she regarded it as a noun or as an adjective, and where it may be 
regarded as either and the evidence of usage is not decisive, it is to 
be treated as a noun in apposition to the name of its genus (the 
original spelling is to be retained, with gender ending unchanged; see 
Article 34.2.1 

That is, all such names are nouns EXCEPT if the original description 
*explicitly* stated it was an adjective. This is more complicated than 
simply treating them all as nouns, but the exceptions are likely to be 
very, very few. One would hope that taxonomists have access to original 
descriptions, and - as stated earlier - with a proper system of 
retrospective registration, these decisions can all be fixed in place 
case by case rather than subject to endless debate.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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