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

David Redei david.redei at gmail.com
Fri May 20 13:05:44 CDT 2016

The idea of dropping gender agreement turns up time to time, and usually
arguments like "*poor Asians (particularly Chinese), their language does
not have genders, it is so difficult for them to deal with the Greek-Latin
taxon names*" are mentioned as well. Interestingly, I have never heard any
Chinese colleague to complain against and call for dropping gender
agreement. Further, as far as I am aware, English nouns do not have gender
either, still I have never heard anybody to claim that gender agreement
should be dropped because it is too confusing for British, American,
Canadian or Australian zoologists. The major issue is not the mother tongue
of the authors but rather their awareness or ignorance. They are careful
and ignorant zoologists among Asians, Europeans and Americans too, the
careful ones will look after or ask help if they are unsure, the ignorant
ones will not care anyway. Modifying the system because there are ignorant
authors seems a bit weird to me.

The best would be if at least editors of journals would be familiar with
the basic rules, call the author's attention and request corrections of bad
names in the manuscript phase. Apparently it does not happen, I can see
dozens of very badly created Greek-Latin names published in several
journals, many in Zootaxa. One of the most bizarre monstrosity I have seen
recently is the genus *Shortcrowna* Li & Li, 2014 (Hemiptera), with
etymology as follows: "The name of the new genus is derived from the Latin
words short (short) and crown (crown), indicating the shape of its crown"
(Zootaxa 3764: 468). It is difficult to believe that it could pass review
and editing. The problem here certainly was not that the authors' native
language does not have genders, the problem was that the authors did not
even have a glimpse of the basic rules of forming names.

David Redei

On 21 May 2016 at 01:07, Adam Cotton <adamcot at cscoms.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Adam.
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
> Channeling Intellectual Exuberance for 29 years in 2016.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list