[Taxacom] the family Tortricidae or just Tortricidae

Richard Jensen rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Tue Oct 13 10:43:05 CDT 2020


One aspect of this has been a (sometimes hotly) debated issue among my
botanical colleagues.  When serving in an editorial capacity, I viewed the
matter as Ken and others suggested: if referring to the family as a single
entity, then treat it as singular; when there is a stated or implied
reference to only some members of the family, or using the informal name
(e.g., rosids, tortricids), then treat it as a plural.  A number of my
botanical colleagues argued that, given the Latin origin and structure of
the name, it requires a plural verb, as in (using my favorite plant family)
"Fagaceae consist of trees and shrubs."  My view is that, because we are
not writing in Latin, but using English (I won't try to deal with other
languages), we should use English constructions, not follow Latin rules:
thus, "Fagaceae consists of trees and shrubs."

This is done regularly in other English contexts.  We do not write "Los
Angeles are a city in California" or "Colorado Springs are a city
in Colorado".  In English, it is, in my experience, generally recommended
that collective nouns (such as Tortricidae or Fagaceae) take singular
verbs.  But, not everyone follows these recommendations.

Cheers,

Dick



On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 11:07 AM Robert Zuparko via Taxacom <
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

> As to your point one: I can see three different explanations here:
>
> 1. It MAY be a matter of the perceived audience: if one is addressing
> (either in print or in person) an audience of lepidopterists, then
> "Tortricidae" is sufficient and adding the phrase "the family" does seem
> redundant to me. However, if one is addressing an audience of layfolk, who
> know little about nomenclature, emphasizing the taxonomic level could be
> useful.
>
> 2. Again, when focusing on taxonomic classification, adding "the family"
> helps add emphasis to a point one is trying to make
>
> 3. Some people are a bit on the, er, garrulous side.
>
> -Bob
>
> On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 5:04 AM Paul van Rijckevorsel via Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
> > I agree with Ken. All three options can be correct.
> > It depends on context and intent.
> >
> > Paul
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Kenneth Kinman via Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> > To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> > Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 8:59 AM
> > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] the family Tortricidae or just Tortricidae
> >
> >
> > >     1.  I don't think it is necessarily redundant, because -idae is not
> > > only the ending for animal family names, but it is also the ending for
> > > plant subclasses (such as Rosidae).
> > >     2.  As for being singular or plural, it depends on the context
> > within
> > > the sentence.  Tortricidae are tortricids, so it can be plural
> > > ("Tortricidae are moths").   But "Family Tortricidae" is a single group
> > as
> > > a taxon, especially when used as the subject of a sentence.  "Family
> > > Tortricidae is speciose".   If you don't explicitly refer to it as a
> > > family, you could say "Tortricidae are speciose" or "Tortricidae is
> > > speciose", depending the context (plural  tortricids or as a single
> > > taxon).   Likewise, you could say "Rosidae are speciose" (meaning
> rosids
> > > are speciose), but it would be "Rosidae is speciose" if you are
> > referring
> > > to the subclass (a singular taxon).   Perhaps it is best to make your
> > > meaning clear by saying "Rosids are a speciose group" or "Subclass
> > Rosidae
> > > is a speciose group".   Same for Tortricids and Family Tortricidae.
> > >                  ---------------Hope this helps,
> > >                                                       Ken
> > >
> > > ________________________________
> > > From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Soowon
> > Cho
> > > via Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> > > Sent: Monday, October 12, 2020 8:47 PM
> > > To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> > > Subject: [Taxacom] the family Tortricidae or just Tortricidae
> > >
> > > Dear members,
> > >
> > > As a non-native English speaker, I have two questions and really hope
> you
> > > could help me.
> > > 1. I feel curious about why people add "the family", "the subfamily",
> > "the
> > > genus", etc. in front of the scientific name in writing: for example,
> > "the
> > > family Tortricidae" instead of just "Tortricidae". Is there a pattern
> or
> > > rule in English? I thought it is redundant when we know Tortricidae
> with
> > > idae-ending means it is a family name.
> > > 2. Sometimes I see Tortricidae, Tortricinae, or genus name Tortrix is
> > > treated as a singular, but sometimes as a plural noun. I thought, based
> > on
> > > the ICZN, they are basically plural, but, in many cases, they are
> > > considered as a singular noun. Spell checker also treats them as a
> > > singular
> > > form. This may or may not be an English question, but I hope someone
> > > please
> > > let me know how to distinguish between the two.
> > >
> > > Sincerely,
> > >
> > > --
> > > Soowon Cho
> > > chosoowon at gmail.com
> > > Dept Plant Medicine
> > > Chungbuk Nat'l Univ
> > > Cheongju, 361-763
> > > KOREA
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> --
> Robert Zuparko
> Essig Museum of Entomology
> 1101 Valley Life Sciences Building, #4780
> University of California
> Berkeley, CA 94720-3112
> (510) 643-0804
>
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-- 
Richard Jensen, Professor Emeritus
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556


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