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

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Fri May 20 10:47:30 CDT 2016

Reality is that users of such names work every day with electronic 
resources of any kind, mostly totally unfamiliar with the rules of 
bioscientific names or the Latin language. Also many insider databases 
do not display such functions. Such arguments involving expressions like 
"it shouldn't be hard" work only in a theroretical world (and actually, 
solving this problem can really be hard, and ugly expensive). Since at 
least 10 or 15 years we have electronic databases, many of them online, 
with search functions. The real life experience is that most have not 
been made up in a way that they actually do partical recognition.

If you look for alba in an important resource like 
http://www.faunaeur.org you only get alba and not albus and not album.

Even if you look on the electronic file of Sherborn's Index Animalium, 
which in its printed version 100 years ago ignored the ending and listed 
alba and albus as if they did not differ in spelling, you will not find 
albus if you request alba.


This is a very typical example that illustrates the problem better than 
any theoretical thought can do it. 100 years ago it was no problem to 
ignore gender agreement, but today in the electronic age this has 
changed dramatically. It is exactly the same content - but this function 
of ignoring the ending has been lost in the process of converting the 
information to a modern standard. You must come to the conclusion that 
the ending is more important today than 100 years ago.

The argument "you could theoretically do something" is simply not useful 
in the electronic age. This is why I disagree with you in this point. We 
do not live on a dream planet and have to adopt our mechanisms to the 
real life world. It is simply not possible the other way round.


Am 20.05.2016 um 15:20 schrieb Scott Thomson:

> I agree with David, databases can clearly be made in a way that can do
> partial recognition, or online dictionaries would not work, including ones
> such as Latin dictionaries that can recognise any form of a word. Names can
> also be associated with multiple higher orders, including original
> designations, so that searches for a species name will still get to the
> correct taxonomic group even if the genus - species combination has changed
> and hence possibly the spelling. It really is a matter of setting them up
> not to do exact match but have enough information to do partial recognition.
> Cheers, Scott
> On Fri, May 20, 2016 at 9:03 AM, David Campbell <pleuronaia at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> It shouldn't be hard to have electronic databases recognize that -us, -a,
>> -um or -ensis, -ense or other common variations are the same word.  Such
>> variation occurs in the existing literature, even if we were to freeze
>> agreement at some point.  Similarly, various other misspellings need to be
>> recognized, although in many cases it will take a competent taxonomist
>> rather than a program to determine what are really different names and what
>> are errors.  Data entry and optical character recognition will continue to
>> introduce errors, especially with the apparent preference for crowdsourcing
>> over hiring competence.
>> On Fri, May 20, 2016 at 6:49 AM, Francisco Welter-Schultes <
>> fwelter at gwdg.de>
>> wrote:
>>> Actually the way lepidopterists proceed today has been initiated by
>>> Linnaeus himself. Among hundreds of butterfly specific names Linnaeus did
>>> not use one single declinable adjective that would have to change if
>> placed
>>> in masculine or feminine genus. The lepidopterists have always had a
>>> special role, since the very beginning on. This is not because some folks
>>> in the past decades were lazy. This had initially been a
>> supradisciplinary
>>> decision taken in 1758.
>>> So it would make sense to identify a mandatory change in a lepidopteran
>>> name as a subsequent spelling, not as a mandatory change under Art. 34.
>>> Possibly in some other less well-known disciplines we may have the same
>>> situation, I did not research that.
>>> I personally think that today the term "spelling" and its usage in
>>> regulations involving prevailing usage (Art. 33) should consider changes
>> in
>>> the ending of adjectives, given that such changes are much more important
>>> in the electronic age than they had ever been before. We should think
>> about
>>> inserting regulations in this direction. It would make sense because it
>>> would give more stability to the name usages and support the trend that
>>> only one set of letters is used for an animal in a scientific name.
>>> Francisco
>>> Am 20.05.2016 um 00:59 schrieb Michael A. Ivie:
>>>> On 5/19/2016 12:09 PM, Karl Magnacca wrote:
>>>>> ...
>>>>> Unfortunately, now that it's been the practice for 200 years, we're
>>>>> stuck with this unholy mess and no easy way to fix it...
>>>> Although I can hear the nashing of traditionalist's teeth as I write
>>>> this, it is actually very easy to fix it, and we are not stuck with it.
>>>> The Lepidopterists have fixed it, they simply use original spelling.
>> The
>>>> whole community has agreed to do this, and it works fine.  Since there
>> is
>>>> no enforcement provisions in the Code, usage in the end determines
>>>> correctness.  All it takes is the will, and the execution is very easy.
>>>> I do not condone doing it the way the Lep folks have, i.e. outside the
>>>> Code system, but it is a reaction to frustration with arcane and archaic
>>>> strictures from the dim dark past.
>>>> When Linneaus and Fabricius wrote, they wrote in Latin, so of course
>> they
>>>> used Latin grammar regarding gender, just was we use English verb
>> agreement
>>>> when writing in English.  The enshrinement of using grammar from a
>> language
>>>> not being used is an artificial construct. There is nothing about it
>> that
>>>> is inevitable nor required.
>>>> Mike
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>> --
>> Dr. David Campbell
>> Assistant Professor, Geology
>> Department of Natural Sciences
>> Box 7270
>> Gardner-Webb University
>> Boiling Springs NC 28017
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