[Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana?

Robert Mill R.Mill at rbge.ac.uk
Mon Jan 13 12:51:10 CST 2014


Linnaeus is regarded in both the ICN and the ICZN as the starting point of biological binomial nomenclature. In botany, it is clear that Linnaeus used nanus, nana, nanum adjectivally, for a quick search of IPNI reveals that he described Phaseolus nanus L. (masculine), Achillea nana L., Betula nana L., Myosotis nana L. and Punica nana L. (all obviously feminine; also see next sentence), and Laserpitium nanum L. (neuter). He also described Amygdalus nana L. (feminine despite the masculine-looking genus name - here Linnaeus was adhering to the classical/mediaeval Latin grammar rule that Latin names of trees ending in -us are feminine, not masculine, e.g. Taxus baccata L. (yew)*; this furnishes additional evidence that he was using nanus/a/um adjectivally because, as in all other botanical nan- names published by him, he made it agree with the gender of its genus).    *Except where other grammatical rules override this tradition, e.g. the tree genus Podocarpus is masculine because the name is a compound based on Gk carpos, masculine, fruit. 

It would be nice to know if Linnaeus also used nanus/a/um adjectivally in his zoological works but I have not been able to search them although nothing comes up in searching the online Linnaean collections of insects, fish and shells.  If he did, that would be sufficient evidence I think for the Neoromicia usage to be treated adjectivally, because a zoological tradition/precedent would have been set. There appear to be numerous later examples of adjectival use of nanus/a/um in zoology though. 

To answer Schultes's latest post, there is no Latin noun "nanum" - only nanus and nana for male and female dwarves respectively as indicated in previous posts and also in the definitive Latin dictionary by Lewis and Short (which is available online at archive.org). But there are 252 entries for botanical "nanum" epithets in IPNI (some are duplicates), showing that botanists have followed Linnaeus' example in regarding nanus/a/um as adjectival; indeed, William T. Stearn in his book Botanical Latin lists nanus in the vocabulary as "(adj. A"): dwarf" with no mention of nanus in its noun form. ["Adj. A" simply means a group A adjective, i.e. one declining like longus, as opposed to groups B and C]. Examples of famous botanists who have followed Linnaeus'example and used nanus, -a, -um adjectivally include Ferdinand von Mueller, William J. Hooker and his son J.D. Hooker, C.L. Willdenow, C.B. Clarke, V. Lipsky, Sereno Watson, Hugh Weddell, A. de Candolle, A.P. de Candolle, C. de Candolle, Pierre Edmond Boissier, Robert Brown, C.P. Thunberg, John Lindley, J.L. Reveal, and Adolf  Engler among many others.

Therefore I agree with what Richard Zander has just said. I suggest that Linnaeus' example be followed and the usage be treated as adjectival and the correct version of the disputed name be  Neoromicia nana, agreeing with feminine Neoromicia. That is, if not forbidden by the ICZN article that Doug Yanega is alluding to - others may correct me, but I do not think there is any equivalent Article in the botanical ICN to ICZN 31.2.2 that would prevent us botanists from using nanus/a/um adjectivally although we do have a similar article dealing with nouns in apposition. However, I would argue that nanus/a/um in botanical traditional usage is NOT a noun in apposition.



Best wishes, Robert

Dr Robert Mill | Gymnosperm Systematist | Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh | 20A Inverleith Row | Edinburgh | EH3 5LR | Scotland, UK
T: + 44 (0) 131 248 2935 (direct) | F:+ 44 (0) 131 248 2901 | E: r.mill at rbge.ac.uk  
www:rbge.org.uk | Visit my staff home page at http://www.rbge.org.uk/science/genetics-and-conservation/robert-mills-homepage



-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Rosenberg,Gary
Sent: 13 January 2014 16:42
To: Alex Borisenko; Cristian Ruiz Altaba
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana?

Late Latin is not part of Latin according to the glossary of the Code. Only ancient Latin and mediaeval Latin are defined as Latin. Late Latin words that did not exist in ancient or mediaeval Latin must be regarded as latinized. Authors are free to create latin adjectives when they name species, for example the Spanish adjective "hermosa" latinized as "hermosus, -a -um". If an author intended the word to be an adjective, but didn't give the derivation, conflicts can arise with existing Latin words (and suffixes), as happened with "nanus".
 
Best wishes,
Gary

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Alex Borisenko
Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014 9:56 PM
To: Cristian Ruiz Altaba
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana?

Christian, I have little regard for the majority rule; however, I can derive two conclusions from the discussion: 
1. 'Nanus' is a noun and there is no conclusive evidence that it was grammatically correct to treat it as an adjective (based on all the Latin dictionaries referred). 
2. There is no explicit indication that Peters used it as an adjective and not as a noun in apposition when he described Vespertilio nanus. 
The fact that 'nanus' may have been treated as an adjective by other people (including taxonomists) in other contexts is an interesting curiosity but that alone would be insufficient to refute #1-2 above. Perhaps there is another authoritative grammar source that we have all missed? 
Thanks, 
Alex 


----- Original Message -----

From: "Cristian Ruiz Altaba" <cruizaltaba at dgcc.caib.es> 
To: "Alex Borisenko" <aborisen at uoguelph.ca> 
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014 5:17:18 PM 
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana? 


Maybe it's a majority vote, but I still don't see the reasons behind Neoromicia nanus. The listing by Francisco surely doesn't come out of the blue. And I believe nanus was used as an adjective in 18th century Latin. It surely was an adjective in late vulgar Latin, as it went so into Romance languages. 
Best, 
Cristian 



-----taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu escribió: ----- 

Para: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
De: Alex Borisenko 
Enviado por: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Fecha: 12/01/2014 22:50 
Asunto: Re: [Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana? 


Thanks a lot to Doug, Gary and others for weighing in and for the helpful resources. 
It looks from all this evidence that we should keep using "Neoromicia nanus" and should retain the species epithet as unchangeable if the species changes genus yet again. 
Best wishes, 
Alex 

----- Original Message ----- 

From: "Doug Yanega" <dyanega at ucr.edu> 
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:55:35 PM 
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neoromicia nanus or Neoromicia nana? 

On 1/11/14 10:42 AM, Doug Yanega wrote: 
> On 1/11/14 7:15 AM, David Campbell wrote: 
>> As specific epithets are often repeatedly used, a compilation of them 
>> with grammatical remarks could be a useful resource. 
> A resource I have found useful, despite a very small number of cases (2 
> or 3) where I have found solid contrary evidence, is this one: 
> 
> http://wwwuser.gwdg.de/~fwelter/changeable.htm 
I forgot to note that "nanus" is one of those 2 or 3 cases I found where 
the evidence indicates contrary to what is on this page; he treats it as 
adjectival, and I have yet to see evidence that it is. 

Peace, 

-- 
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) 
http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html 
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness 
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82 


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