[Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -ops

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun May 15 18:45:04 CDT 2016

Hi Margaret,

I would say that the gender is unambiguously masculine according to Art. 30.1 (particularly However, the Code is generally increasing in ambiguity/vagueness overall, particularly in relation to maintaining "current usage". My own approach is to maintain "current usage" in such cases, but to note the potential nomenclatural problem. In other words, I think that it is better to note such problems, rather than to try to "fix" them oneself, particularly since it can influence "current usage" in ways which might make things even less clear. Given that it is a rather minor issue, we can live with the problem, but hopefully, one day, the ICZN might sort it out once and for all.



On Mon, 16/5/16, Margaret Thayer <mthayer at fieldmuseum.org> wrote:

 Subject: [Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -ops
 To: "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Monday, 16 May, 2016, 11:35 AM
 Dear colleagues,
 ​I sent the message below to iczn-list at afriherp.org
 on 28 April, but it
 apparently never appeared there (is that list still
 active?), nor did it
 bounce back to me. I decided to try taxacom to see if anyone
 has comments
 on this situation.
 In discussions with a student researcher who is working on
 the histerid
 beetle genus *Carcinops*, I found that there have been
 interpretations of its gender over the decades. *Carcinops*
 was described
 by Marseul in 1855 as being derived from *καρκίνος*,
 crabe [*carcinus*,
 crab]; *ὤψ *, figure [*ops*, figure, face, countenance,
 *ὤψ* being nearly
 always treated as feminine in classical Greek according to
 Liddell &
 Scott's Greek Lexicon]. Marseul used masculine (or common)
 gender for his
 adjectival species names in that and subsequent works. Three
 other authors
 continued that usage and described more species with
 masculine endings
 until Lewis in 1888 (without comment) switched to treating
 the generic name
 as feminine. Several additional species have been described
 since then, and
 all but one of the adjectival names (proposed by three
 different authors)
 have been treated as feminine.
 Article 30.1 of the Code clearly applies, but is potentially
 a little
 ambiguous. [Code text in black]
 *30.1.* *Gender of names formed from Latin or Greek
 words.*  Subject to the
 exceptions specified in Article 30.1.4
 ... 30.1.2. a genus-group name that is or ends in a Greek
 transliterated into Latin without other changes takes the
 gender given for
 that word in standard Greek dictionaries;
 ... 30.1.4. The following exceptions apply:
 ... A compound genus-group name ending in -*ops*
 is to be treated
 as masculine, regardless of its derivation or of its
 treatment by its
 So 30.1.2 argues for feminine; in fact, this might have been
 the (unstated)
 principle Lewis was using. But Al Newton and I both
 interpret 30.1's
 phrasing "Subject to the exceptions ... in ... 30.1.4" to
 mean that any of
 the conditions listed under 30.1.4 *supersede* the general
 condition in
 30.1.2. This would make *Carcinops* masculine instead,
 reversing the nearly
 universal usage of the last 120+ years. My recommendation to
 the student is
 that *Carcinops* should indeed be treated as masculine, with
 a brief
 mention of the history and justification for the change in
 (nearly-submitted) paper.
 Does anyone see a hole in my argument that would mean
 current usage as
 feminine should be maintained?
 Thanks very much,
 Margaret K. Thayer, Ph.D.        mthayer at fieldmuseum.org
 Curator Emeritus, Life Sciences, ​Field Museum of Natural
 ​Lecturer, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University
 of Chicago
 1400 South Lake Shore Drive
 Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
 PHONE: +1-312-665-7741 (direct)    FAX:
 FMNH personal web page <http://fieldmuseum.org/users/margaret-thayer>
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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 Channeling Intellectual Exuberance for 29 years in 2016.

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