1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Specific names

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Crows Arachnids, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Crows Arachnids

    Crows Arachnids Arachnoknight

    Lastly - (here's the constructive criticism ) - species names aren't capitalized unless you begin the sentence with them.

    Grats on the new spiders.


    Just food for thought, as this has irritated me, being that I am a linguist major. Eloise F. Potter complied an article in reference to the vernacular names of species and the rules on capitalization. Although she recognizes that it is indeed correct to begin the name of the species with a lower case character she provides plausible retort as to why that should not be. It absolutely should be capitalized, and upon research the only reason it isn't is because in prior journals, compiliations, books, etc. they never were. Im sure there is more research on the matter, but I care too little to dig it up. :p As far as I am concerned, if it is enough of an issue to be pointed out, I must say that I thouroughly believe it is a matter of opinion. As Biological editors and other professional writers in the current field of Animalia seem to ride the fence on the matter, seemingly it is a debate without words. I am sorry if I was petty, please forgive me :)
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  2. Zoltan

    Zoltan Cult Leader

    And what is that retort? I'd appreciate a full citation for this article of Eloise F. Potter you mention.

    As stated in the ICZN Appendix B, specific names always begin with a lower case letter, simple as that. And technically no sentence should begin with a specific name. From ICZN (International Code on Zoological Nomenclature) Appendix B:

    6. The scientific names of genus- or species-group taxa should be printed in a type-face (font) different from that used in the text; such names are usually printed in italics, which should not be used for names of higher taxa. Species-group names always begin with a lower-case letter, and when cited should always be preceded by a generic name (or an abbreviation of one); names of all supraspecific taxa begin with an upper-case (capital) letter.

    On the contrary, I have seen many old, pre-ICZN articles where the first letter of the specific names were capitalized, but I highly doubt you will find a recent, peer-review scientific work where it is capitalized.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  3. Crows Arachnids

    Crows Arachnids Arachnoknight

    It still boils down to this: Define proper noun, in conjunction relay the ruling for proper nouns. This was one of her simplistic retorts. I will get the citation later, as I am at work now. This issue has been discussed in my classes, birds scientific names were the topic, but that is incapsulating. As I mentioned, she recognized it is correct, as do I. Please give me the reasoning behind it, as I have missed it so far. I truly believe it should be capitialized, and in my estimation, that is regardless of any prior/current publications.
  4. JimM

    JimM Arachnoangel Old Timer

    With respect, no, it's not "opinion", it's long established convention - the end.
    There's no fence riding either, not in any of the genera I've studied or written about, be it arachnids, reptiles, corals, birds or fish.
    She can come up with plausible retorts till the cows come home, but it's not
    the domain of the linguist to "correct" this particular matter.

    For one thing, depending on context, the presence or absence of the first capital letter is good indication of whether you're dealing with a genus or species!
  5. Crows Arachnids

    Crows Arachnids Arachnoknight

    Actually thats incorrect in many aspects. However this discussion is over, this is not the proper thread and so I took it up via PM. Thank you for your input.
  6. JimM

    JimM Arachnoangel Old Timer

    Nice try, but I don't think so. ;)
  7. Zoltan

    Zoltan Cult Leader

    I moved the relevant posts here creating a thread since Jim continued the discussion. </mod note>

    Good points, Jim, and I agree. As I said to you, Crows Arachnids, in PM, I don't know what is the specific reason behind the lower-case first letter in specific names, as it isn't detailed in the Code, but I did find it in the core of the ICZN, chapter 7, article 28:

    Article 28. Initial letters. A family-group or genus-group name or the name of a taxon above the family group is always to begin with an upper-case initial letter, and a species-group name always with a lower-case initial letter, regardless of how they were originally published.

    Recommendation 28A. Initial words. A species-group name should not be put as the first word in a sentence, to avoid its beginning with an upper-case initial letter.

    Recommendation 28A also "serves as a response" to:
    It is interesting to look at pre-Linnean "scientific names". They were often polynomial, and could even be paragraphs long. For example, this is a scientific name of a spider from Browne, 1756:

    Tarantula rufescens major ventre minori, articulis penultimis ungulatis.

    At that time, these names, in addition to serving simply as a name, also served as description, diagnosis and help with identification. They contained a lot of adjectives, and specific names are often adjectives pertaining to a feature of the animal in question nowadays as well. For example Pamphobeteus grandis means "huge Pamphobeteus". It looks to me that when the first letter of the specific name was capitalised, it's a patronym of a person, derived from a geographic name etc. If you think of today's binomials as a shortened version of polynomials (Tarantula rufescens major ventre minori, articulis penultimis ungulatis), and if you think of them not as a proper noun but a proper noun (generic name) and a descriptor (specific name), e.g. Cyanistes caeruleus = blue Cyanistes, it actually makes sense (at least to me) to use lower-case with specific names.
  8. xhexdx

    xhexdx ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Cool, I learned something new today. :)

    Thanks, Zoltan.
  9. Crows Arachnids

    Crows Arachnids Arachnoknight

    Its a shame.

    Ah, thats what you meant by "I don't think so", I pondered on that for a moment. Lol. In fact your statement is too narrow, so indeed incorrect. First off you are assuming Eloise is a linguist, as far as I know she is not, if she is, I never said that. It is opinion, when as many people as I have experienced in the educational setting disagree. Also, you're a writer, what makes you the zenith? How is this your domain as compared to a linguist? It wouldn't have been discussed in my classes if all of those other individuals did not think otherwise. Im glad you mentioned its "convention" that was one of my underlying points, now use metalingustics to define why we abide by the current ruling. I never meant to start something like this,as I mentioned I recognize it is correct to use lower case, I do not need to be told that, I merely beckon for a reason. Thank you Zoltan for coming up with something, although that was a stretch (Aren't you clever!) it's better than nothing! As far as your last statement, you are indeed correct and that is a good point.
  10. Life would be easier with a uninomial system. Plus this would more accurately reflect the fact that specific and supraspecific taxa are independently inferred, as well as doing away with those empirically vacuous monotypic taxa.

    The ICZN needs an enema.
  11. JimM

    JimM Arachnoangel Old Timer

    I don't believe I said anything to indicate that I was the zenith, not did I indicate that my experience was limited to writing, but way to make a
    leap there.
    No, I simply said that in my experience across multiple genera, the convention holds, and that objections from anyone who isn't a taxonomist (linguist or otherwise) are pointless, and effectively impotent. ;)

    The above notwithstanding, I'll ignore your repeat of the dismissive "you are incorrect" statement for the purposes of this thread.
  12. Crows Arachnids

    Crows Arachnids Arachnoknight

    Ok. I appreciate your input :)
  13. JimM

    JimM Arachnoangel Old Timer

    We've discussed before, but seems to me the same arbitrary "errors" , (or perhaps "inconsistencies" would be a better word), would exist no?
    I guess I'm wondering how you see this working at the superspecific level...you went a bit over my head there.

    I think I used the example before of a V. acanthurus, the tiny Spiny Tailed monitor being in the same genus as V. komodoensis, the Komodo Dragon. Not just a question of scale difference between the two, but cranial morphology, dentition, scale morphology, etc. Yet you have taxonomists breaking up the family Serranidae (fish, seabass, hamlets "groupers" for those of you unfamiliar) due to the slightest differences in superficial morphology. I've even talked to someone doing work with cichlids in lake Tangynika, and drew genus boundaries with regard to how the fish hunted, completely disregarding morphology.

    So the guy doing the work on Varanidae comes with completely different (and my argument, somewhat arbitrary) results than what we'd get if the guy doing the work on the family Serranidae would present. This based on what I have to assume, or at least what appears to be a somewhat divergent opinion of what constitutes a genus.

    I'm just wondering how a monomial system (and still trying to wrap my head around what that looks like) would mitigate this "issue". I put in parenthesis because I seem to be the only one that makes a stink about it...perhaps due to something that still at this point, I'm missing.

    I had someone working with reptiles at the San Diego zoo tell me that they were bringing genetics into it "THEN! Then we'll sort out this whole V. albigularis mess!" So then I said something to the effect of "aren't you arbitrarily assigning this or that marker to your understanding of "genus?"

    He didn't have much to say about that.

    Off topic a bit, and I'm rambling I realize, but the 'monomial' thing has me intrigued.
  14. There are no rules that control the inclusiveness of hypotheses to which supraspecific names are applied. For instance, it's meaningless to equate the lizard genus Varanus with the cichlid genus Pseudotropheus. While both names refer to particular phylogenetic hypotheses, the scope of those hypotheses could be very different. This is one of the reasons there's a strong contingent arguing for doing away with ranks.

    Yeah, his argument is a tired, naive refrain I still see among moleculoids. It's scientifically specious, and philosophically absurd.