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

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri May 20 17:12:17 CDT 2016


Hi David,
Some taxonomists (old school, which is not a put down, and I include myself here) want meaningful, euphonious and grammatical names for taxa. Others just want identifiers, and in between are a growing group who don't care as long as it looks and sounds enough like Latin/Greek and they can get away with it. There are generic names like Bob and Do, names like Ostreacryptus clarkae ("Helen Clark's Hidden Oyster Beetle"!) named for the author's favourite food (oysters) and the then N.Z. Prime Minister (Helen Clark), etc., etc. Journals like Zootaxa are far too interested in pushing out as many papers as possible to worry too much about quality control. Everybody has their own ideas on which way of doing things is best. Some taxonomists do very well by publishing lots of padded out nothingness, others get little recognition for taking the time to get things right. It's a jungle out there ...
Cheers,
Stephen

--------------------------------------------
On Sat, 21/5/16, David Redei <david.redei at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -oops
 To: "TAXACOM" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Saturday, 21 May, 2016, 6:05 AM
 
 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.
 >
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 >
 > Channeling
 Intellectual Exuberance for 29 years in 2016.
 >
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