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Re: Lizard of Oz

<Or the frivolousness of "Heerz lukinatcha" and the like.>
  It was about a year ago a thread on the list was run of really
wierd, "frivolous" names. They are as fantastical as *Ozraptor*. The
spider and butterfly taxa vary so much yet are so similar that if the
genus is purple, and a new one comes along, but the name must
perfectly describe the animal in question, how are you going to do it?
How do you say "purple swallow-tail butterfly" in Greek, or Latin?
Pick a language. Mammal taxa in Mongolia are being named in Mongolian,
and they're just as cool as "*Kakuru*".

It doesn't matter to me which language forms the descriptive name, only
that it be descritive of the organism.  Latinization is a requirement by the
rules but the roots can be anything andI don't care. Someone will
produce a lexicon to which I can refer for the origins of the terms.

"Cool"?  Don't you mean "groovy"? 

<Utahraptor is one with which I have particular problems. What is at
all descriptive about this name?>

  The Plunderer of Utah. Makes sense. In the EK's Cloverly, Utah was
still Utah.

No, it wasn't.  It was nothing like Utah today. 

<What does it conjure up in the imagination about the creature itself?
 Did it live in a desert (Utah usually brings to mind Southern Utah
which is mostly desert)? Did it live in the mountains (Northern Utah)?
When Utahraptor was alive, Utah was not like it is now and yet the
name brings forth the image.>

  Southern Utah is beautiful, full of plains and valleys of
wind-carved stone. Rivers all around Utah, as well as forests,
snow-capped mountains, the country's second-biggest lake, and the
Bonneville Salt Flats. Incredible variety. It's this northern bit that
*Utahraptor's* habitat more resembled, with a bit more forest, a bit
less mountains.

I be a garduate of the Youniversity of Youtah.  They teached me ever
thing I knows.  Besides, we do not know the range of Utahraptor.  It may
have been that "EK-Utah" was just on the periphery, or the fossils we
have represent "accidentals" rather than the true distribution of most of
the population.  It may be that Utahraptor would be more accurately
described on a geographic basis as "Albertaraptor". Bottomline here is
we don't know but the implication of the name is that we do.  

<I think it should be avoided in favour of something structural about
the creature and, preferably, diagnostic.>

  The diagnosis is in the diagnosis. The name could, and often does,
describe the animal. But again, it doesn't have to. Names, places, can
often reflect the animal in question.

Yes, they can.  But what information does the species name "beckii"
give? ZIP.  I know that it doesn't have to but a professional attitude
toward taxonomy and systematics would avoid both obsequiousness
toward major profs and frivolousness. Names sould give us a clue about
the organism.

  *Corythosaurus casuarius* means "cassowary-helmeted lizard", but
corytho- also applies to Corinth, where Greek soldiers wore helmets
that resemble the cassowary's crest. So, corytho- means "helmet" and
"Corinthian" and even "Corinthian-helmet", so the name of the dinosaur
can be a tongueful to translate, as well as a syntax nightmare. How do
you say all that at once?

We are not translating the name of the dinosaur from Greek, Latin,
Spanish or anything else.  We are using words to name a creature
according to its features.  Should we adopt Linnaeus's _original_ 
method of writing a lengthy Latin paragraph and not the binomial
nomenclature derived from it?  Our system is really derived from
Linnaeus's marginal notes rather than the "real" name which he
considered to be the long paragraph.  Then we would truly be in the
translating business.  I happen to like this one, "(Corinthian) helmeted
lizard, like a cassowary."  Seems to say enough, it contains descriptors,
it brings up an image of something.  Heerz lukinatcha don't mean squat. 
Neither does Ozraptor (except the raptor part).  What's next?


*Sixtiesus uptightensis*