[Taxacom] Fwd: the family Tortricidae or just Tortricidae

Tony Rees tonyrees49 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 13:24:44 CDT 2020

Hi all,

I think the problems stem from the fact that a term like "the [family]
Tortricidae", or just "[family] Tortricidae" is a collective noun, which
can be treated equally as singular or plural, however some tendencies for
preferred treatment exist between British and U.S. English, also upon
whether or not the term is "explicitly" plural from its form (apparently
more an issue in U.S. than British English). The following extract from
currently says (Oct 2020):


In British English, it is generally accepted that collective nouns can take
either singular or plural verb forms depending on the context and the
metonymic <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy> shift that it implies.
For example, "the team *is* in the dressing room" (*formal agreement
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_agreement>*) refers to *the team* as
an ensemble, while "the team *are* fighting among themselves" (*notional
agreement <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notional_agreement>*) refers to *the
team* as individuals. That is also the British English practice with names
of countries and cities in sports contexts (e.g., "Newcastle
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle_United_F.C.> *have* won the

In American English <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_English>,
collective nouns almost always take singular verb forms (formal agreement).
In cases that a metonymic shift would be revealed nearby, the whole
sentence should be recast to avoid the metonymy. (For example, "The team
are fighting among themselves" may become "the team *members* are fighting
among themselves" or simply "The team is infighting.") Collective proper
nouns <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proper_noun> are usually taken as
singular ("Apple <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc.> is expected to
release a new phone this year"), unless the plural is explicit in the
proper noun itself, in which case it is taken as plural ("The Green Bay
Packers <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bay_Packers> are scheduled to
play the Minnesota Vikings
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Vikings> this

Go figure...

Regards - Tony
Tony Rees, New South Wales, Australia

On Thu, 15 Oct 2020 at 05:11, Douglas Yanega via Taxacom <
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

> On 10/14/20 10:26 AM, Richard Jensen via Taxacom wrote:
> > By my reckoning, the two statements below
> >
> >      1. The family Tortricidae
> >      2. The Tortricidae
> >
> > are grammatically equivalent and I would recommend "is" for both.  Family
> > is implicit in the second statement because that's what Tortricidae is;
> the
> > word "family" is redundant. In fact, "The" in both statements is also
> > unnecessary.
> Depends on context, not the prefix. Consider "The New York Jets":
> I can say "The New York Jets is an NFL football franchise" and I can say
> "The New York Jets are losers". Both are acceptable. You might get away
> with "are" in the first case, but you could NEVER use "is" in the second
> case.
> ;-)
> Peace,
> --
> Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>               https://faculty.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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