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ICZN exegesis was Re: New Shandong Dinosaur Discoveries

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jaime A. Headden" <qilongia@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 10:41 PM
Subject: Re: New Shandong Dinosaur Discoveries

<* Which reminds me: the temnospondyl workers switched all -opsidae/-opsoidea names to -opidae/-opoidea maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and nobody seems to complain...>

If they did it before the ICZN cut off emmendations like this in 1999, then yeah, no one should complain.

So they were required by the 1985 code?

I am still noticing uses of *-orum* in attempts to modify names ending in *-i* despite the cutoff point having passed.

But has there ever been a cutoff point for such emendations? Let's see if we can find out.

From the 1999 code (http://www.iczn.org/iczn/index.jsp):


Art. 25: A scientific name must be formed and treated in accordance with the relevant provisions of Article 11 and Articles 26 to 34 (also see Appendix B, General Recommendations).

Art. 31.1.2: A species-group name, if a noun in the genitive case (see Article formed directly from a modern personal name, is to be formed by adding to the stem of that name -i if the personal name is that of a man, -orum if of men or of man (men) and woman (women) together, -ae if of a woman, and -arum if of women; the stem of such a name is determined by the action of the original author when forming the genitive.

Art. 31.1.3: The original spelling of a name formed under Articles 31.1.1 and 31.1.2 is to be preserved [Art. 32.2] unless it is incorrect [Arts. 32.3, 32.4] (for treatment of incorrect subsequent spellings of such species-group names see Articles 33.3 and 33.4).


As usual, the code is incapable of expressing itself clearly. What does "formed under Articles 31.1.1 and 31.1.2" mean? Does it mean "formed within their jurisdiction", in which case all those embarrassments like *Sinovenator changii* must be preserved forever? Or does it mean "formed according to these Articles"?

As usual, a possible solution lies far away: Art. 25 says "must". That means that, if a name fails to conform to Art. 31.1.2, it is invalid. Or have I missed something?

But of course, the code isn't done yet:


Art. 32.2: Correct original spelling. The original spelling of a name is the "correct original spelling", unless it is demonstrably incorrect as provided in Article 32.5.

Art. 32.2.2: A justified emendation [Art. 33.2.2] is treated as though it is a correct original spelling (and therefore takes the authorship and date of the original publication [Art. 19.2]).

Art. 32.3: Preservation of correct original spelling. The correct original spelling of a name is to be preserved unaltered, except where it is mandatory to change the suffix or the gender ending under Article 34 (for treatment of emendations and incorrect subsequent spellings see Articles 32.5, 33.2, 33.3, 33.4).

Art. 32.4: Status of incorrect original spellings. An original spelling is an "incorrect original spelling" if it must be corrected as required in Article 32.5. An incorrect original spelling has no separate availability and cannot enter into homonymy or be used as a substitute name.


Art. 33.2 appears to agree:


Art. 33.2.2: The correction of an incorrect original spelling in accordance with Article 32.5 is a "justified emendation", and the name thus corrected retains the authorship and date of the original spelling [Art. 19.2].

Art. 33.2.3: Any other emendation is an "unjustified emendation"; the name thus emended is available and it has its own author and date and is a junior objective synonym of the name in its original spelling; it enters into homonymy and can be used as a substitute name, but

Art. when an unjustified emendation is in prevailing usage and is attributed to the original author and date it is deemed to be a justified emendation.


And sure enough, the very long Art. 32.5 doesn't mention gender/number mismatch between a name and the author(s) it honors as a reason to regard an original spelling as incorrect. But maybe that's just because it doesn't need to -- because Art. 25 has already established that such original spellings are incorrect, so Art. 32.5 doesn't need to repeat that and instead only mentions the possibilities that haven't already been dealt with?

But Arts. 32.2 and 33.2 contradict that: unless Art. 32.5 says an original spelling is incorrect, it is correct and must not be emended.

But Art. 25 says names _must_ be formed in accordance with Art. 31.1.2 (among others), which in turn says "is to be", not "should be" or anything (it's an Article, not a Recommendation). So, the code contradicts itself!

Perhaps -- perhaps! -- the solution lies in the secret meaning of Art. 31.1.3, an Article which is no easier to understand than the Second Amendment to the US constitution. Someone should petition the ICZN for a clarification, I suppose (especially considering how lucidly and explicitly the issue of *-i* vs *-ii* species names is dealt with), or else for an amendment of that article in the next issue of the code, whenever that will be.