[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

RE: New iguanodonts in PLoS ONE

I never said we should treat Latin and Greek differently from Chinese, 
Mongolian, or any other language.  "Respect" for something abstract like
 a language or a dead culture falls squarely into the category of 
something we don't need to be concerned with.  It's an issue like the 
salad fork- no one's harmed by breaking the rule.  It's all about 
tradition, appearences, being proper and cultured, etc..  Nothing that 
influences the science at all. 

Mickey Mortimer

> Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 15:53:32 +1100
> From: tijawi@gmail.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: New iguanodonts in PLoS ONE
> Mickey Mortimer  wrote:
> > But seriously, I have to ask if there is any good reason for caring about 
> > using proper Latin or Greek in scientific names.  We're not
> > actually speaking the language, just making labels for taxa.  Surely it 
> > doesn't matter how we make the label as long as we can
> > communicate it.  Maybe it's a generational thing, but being picky over the 
> > formation of names strikes me as something only someone
> > who uses aescs and cares where their salad fork goes would be concerned 
> > with.
> As someone who doesn't know where the salad fork goes (aside from into
> the salad at some point), I do care that names are formed correctly.
> After all, when new genus and species names are put together using
> extant languages (such as Chinese or Mongolian), the authors ensure
> that the names are correctly formed. This is done out of respect to
> the local languages, and is entirely appropriate. The ability to
> correctly form these names is presumably due to at least one of the
> authors being a native speaker in that tongue (or knows somebody who
> is) and is therefore familiar with something as basic as how to
> combine two or more words.
> Therefore, I don't understand why different rules apply to Ancient
> Greek or Latin, where you seem to be suggesting it's okay to be
> sloppy. Sure, these are effectively 'dead' languages. But they were
> once living languages, and they still have an enormous influence on
> English vocabulary. Moreover, the ancient cultures that spoke Latin
> and Greek also happen to represent the pillars of Western
> civilization, so due care should be taken to ensure that we get the
> names right. I can't speak either Greek or Latin; but as a native
> English speaker who grew up with words that have Latin or Greek roots,
> even I know that '_Gigantspinosaurus_' is just plain wrong.
> I have no beef with _Iguanocolossus_. But what's the harm in ensuring
> that dinosaur nomenclature doesn't continue to churn out horribly
> malformed monikers like _Gigantspinosaurus_ or _Aberratiodontus_or
> _Confuciusornis_... simply because the respective authors were too
> lazy to consult an expert on how to string together two or three Latin
> or Greek words. In these three particular cases, the names seemed to
> have been coined by Chinese speakers, who probably had little if any
> familiarity with Latin or Greek. But if we are going to exercise due
> care (as we should) that Chinese-derived names such as _Guanlong_
> ("crowned dragon") and _Shanweiniao_ ("fan-tailed bird") are properly
> formed, why not extend the same courtesy to Latin- and Greek-derived
> names?