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RE: New iguanodonts in PLoS ONE
Tim Williams wrote-
> Mickey Mortimer wrote:
> > 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.
> Why not?
> I don't need to say 'please' or 'thank you'. But it's something I do anyway.
Something you do to people- who have feelings. Respecting people serves the
purpose of not hurting feelings and smoothing social relationships, whereas
respecting languages or dead cultures serves the purpose of... appearing
professional to others who value it because it appears professional? Not to
belittle Chure's reply, it just did nothing to change my opinion that most
people care because of "tradition, appearences, being proper and cultured, etc."
John Scanlon wrote-
> 'as long as we can communicate it' is the thing, though. For those of us
> that CAN spell, names that follow the 'rules' are simply much easier to
> recall accurately. That makes them objectively better labels for all kinds
> of information retrieval (as long as a human brain is in the loop).
That's a valid point, at least for things that are fairly well known like
-pteryx makes family names ending in -pterygidae. But if we didn't have ICZN
rules and attempted emmendations for such cases, how many people would know
-orum is the suffix for species names referring to multiple people and that
Seismosaurus halli was named for more than one Hall? Especially with courses
in Latin and Greek becoming less common in schools. I agree it's better to get
the spelling and grammar correct than not, I just don't think it's important
enough to make a big deal out of. Certainly not to the extent of Pigdon's
original comment- "I'd have thought that poor Latin grammar would be grounds
for rejecting a paper that errects a new name - except that many such
mispellings over the years would suggest otherwise."
Raptorial Talon wrote-
"I see almost this exact same logic in certain other contexts.
I'll just substitute a few synonyms and near-synonyms to illustrate.
"Respect" for something obscure and obsolete like an extinct animal
falls squarely into the category of something we don't need to be
concerned with. It's an issue like studying useless old bones- no
one's harmed by ignoring them. It's all about not having a real job,
having interests that don't produce anything useful, trying to look
all smart, etc.. Nothing that meaningfully impacts mainstream life at
Knowledge should be promoted for its own sake. To do anything less is
to presume knowledge we do not truly have."
I agree with the latter completely, and would say it's important for linguists,
archaeologists, etc. to know the details of Latin and Greek language. I was
simply arguing doing something out of respect for a non-person is pointless.
We study paleontology because we're interested in expanding human knowledge, in
learning more ourselves, etc., not because we respect the historical European
culture that gave it to us, or because we respect the Mesozoic Era. If someone
were to argue it's important to get Latin grammar right in names because of the
inherent value in learning a bit about the language in the process, I'd agree
that's a worthy reason. But much like Scanlon's point above, I don't think the
value in paleontologists learning a bit of a dead language is enough to justify
rejecting a paper.