Message 2001-02-0082: David M's orthography question

Wed, 21 Feb 2001 12:59:33 -0500

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Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 12:59:33 -0500
From: "Moore, Gerry" <>
Subject: David M's orthography question

DM: Why is Article 17.1. so restrictive? I suggest to treat all =
signs like diaereses in Note 17.1.1. Today, scientific names come from
languages around the globe, for most of which Latin respectively =
simply hasn't got enough letters. Why not allow Cha=F1aresuchus, =
U=F1enlagia or
Gracilisuchus stipanicicorum? (Optimistically assuming that your mail =
programs can read this... :-] ) Or tone marks on Chinese names? And
apostrophes (Articles 17.2. and 18.7.) are very useful in transcribing =
languages; a few months ago, the Chinese sauropod dinosaur =
a'naensis has been named, the apostrophe indicating that the name of =
village near which the fossil was found is composed of the syllables a =
na instead of an and a. (It has lost the apostrophe because of ICZN, of

The article appears to draw heavily from the botanical code's rules on
orthography. The rule is restrictive with regards to diacritical marks
because they are not a part of the Latin language, and it is generally
assumed  that scientific names of organisms are to be written in Latin
(Principle V of the botanical code; there is no analogous principle in =
PhyloCode). If the code were to allow more flexibility with regards to
orthography, we might end up with scientific names being not so much =
but representing some sort of Esperanto. By sticking with Latin, the
orthography rules can stay fairly simple, since established Latin =
custom can
be followed (well that's the thinking, although when we start =
non-Latin words into Latin things get messy).=20

DM: BTW, not all pairs of dots on vowels are diaereses. =E4, =F6, and =
=FC, at
least 2 of which occur in languages like German, Swedish, Hungarian,
Turkish, Finnish, Estonian etc., are sounds different from a, o, u and
rarely have a vowel in front of them. Are these to be treated as =
(One example comes to mind -- Donald F. Glut: Dinosaurs. The =
McFarland 1997 uses *Velocipes guerichi*, *V. gurichi* and *V. =
g=FCrichi* on
the same page to describe a dinosaur scrap from Germany.)

The dieresis (two dots placed above a vowel) is a standard mark in =
(sometimes used with the vowel "u") and in Portugese  (sometimes used =
the vowels "i" and "u"; although the grave is often substituted). =
the dieresis can be used in any language (including Latin) using the =
alphabet (it is also used in Greek), to indicate that a vowel is to be
pronounced (e.g., Iso=EBtes, Bront=EB) The umlaut (also represented by =
two dots
placed above a vowel) is used in many languages (including the =
Germanic, and Turkish examples you cite) to indicate vowel mutation =
(i.e., a
vowel with an umlaut is pronounced differently than a vowel without =
The umlaut is not used in the Latin language. Indeed to the best of my
knowledge the only special character that is used in Latin is the =
Since diacritical marks do not generally occur in Latin, Latinizing a =
requires the suppression of the marks along with transcription as =
needed. In
your G=FCrich example, the epithet would be converted to "guerichi" (I =
botanists would write "guerichii"). If there is one place where the
PhyloCode can follow the other codes' lead I suspect it is orthography! =


Gerry Moore
Research Taxonomist
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11225-1099


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