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

Adam Cotton adamcot at cscoms.com
Fri May 20 12:07:12 CDT 2016

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Frank T. Krell" <Frank.Krell at dmns.org>
To: "Adam Cotton" <adamcot at cscoms.com>; <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 11:41 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -oops

> Using the original spelling, the original descriptions need to  be checked 
> anyway.
> Is that waste? Some people considering posting to listservers a waste of 
> time. Some people enjoy diving into old literature, some don't.
> The waste of time argument is a red herring.
> Frank

Checking original descriptions certainly isn't a waste of time, I actually 
do it a lot in my research. However, checking very carefully to see whether 
there is a disclaimer on the apparent adjectival epithet included somewhere 
in the description does add to the time spent, and more importantly it is 
rather difficult for a computer to perform this task.

In fact, even very old names need checking. The example I mentioned 
yesterday that the Chinese had garbled was described in 1852 as a 
replacement name for a junior homonym, and the original description makes it 
clear that the name is not an adjective even though it ends in -a. Without 
gender agreement scientists don't need to worry about such semantics and can 
spend their time on productive research.

Living in Thailand for as long as I have (since 1981) I can actually 
understand how confusing gender agreement must be for Asians. In the Thai 
language not only is there no gender agreement, words don't even have 
endings to indicate plurals, a word is a word whether it be a noun, 
adjective or verb, and the expression of meaning is present in the 
arrangement of the words to form a context. In fact the same words may 
sometimes be used as verbs, nouns and adjectives.

The major problems with incorrect gender agreement by the Chinese is because 
the epithets that were changed are actually not adjectives; but because they 
end with an -us or an -a they look as though they are to a taxonomist who is 
taught that words with these endings need to agree with the genus name, 
without really understanding when/why these rules do and do not apply.


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