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

Scott Thomson scott.thomson321 at gmail.com
Fri May 20 11:20:24 CDT 2016


Just so you know I happen to agree with you also. I said it could be done,
not that it has been for nomenclature, nor that it would be easy or cheap.
It would require I programmer to deal with the difficult task of teaching
the database to do partial name recognition and association. This is the
result for searching for alba on a Latin Dictionary site
http://latin-dictionary.net/search/latin/alba, it will work for any Latin
word, of course this is not entirely useful for our nomenclatural purposes,
the point is it can work.

When I did software engineering I was told in a lecture that you had to
consider a computer program as similar to a cooking recipe for a 3 year
old. That was 10 years ago so yes things have possibly advanced, maybe they
are 5 now. But the point is, and we probably all know it, a computer can
only do what it is taught to do. If you ask why I did not give a source
useful for taxonomy, its because I cannot. It has not to my knowledge been
done in a way to do this. So yes I agree with David that it can be done, I
agree with you that it has not been done, is not easy and would be
expensive to do. I would argue it would be good if it was done, but who
would put up the money to hire a genuine database programmer to do it and
maintain it. Failing that, and that is likely I think, yes we have to adapt
to what is out there.

Cheers, Scott

On Fri, May 20, 2016 at 12:47 PM, Francisco Welter-Schultes <fwelter at gwdg.de
> wrote:

> 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.
> http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/indexanimalium/TaxonomicNames/
> 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.
> Francisco
> 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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Scott Thomson
Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo
Divisão de Vertebrados (Herpetologia)
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