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Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 08:26:14 -0400
From: Philip Cantino <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Fwd: Gender of species names?
David Marjanovic wrote: > >In his gigantic critique of an early version of the PhyloCode, >Michael J. Benton ><http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/phylocode/biolrev.html>http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/phylocode/biolrev.html moans "the > >obvious problem of frequently re-used specific epithets (e.g. the >snoeshow hare, Lepus americanus, the Rocky Mountain goat, Oreamnos >americanus, the American black bear, Ursus americanus, the moose, >Alces americana, the pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, the American >marten, Martes americana, which all become americanus)" which, he >writes, can be solved by e. g. adding numbers to the names. > What will happen to gender endings under PhyloCode? I >haven't seen any mentioning of this problem anywhere else so far. >Could we leave them "uncodified" so that they can be adapted to >whatever clade address is used in front of them? > >BTW, I've written an even bigger critique of Benton's critique, and >one of Platnick's critique >(<http://www.systass.org/meetings/agm-address-dec2001.html>http://www.systass.org/meetings/agm-address-dec2001.html), and > >put them on a website that I must repair... the two editors I use, >MS Word and MS FrontPage Express, are amazingly incompatible and >have ruined much of the layout. I'll post the URLs later. -- You can >certainly guess almost every word I wrote anyway. :-) I will take this opportunity to point out a recent response to Benton and other critics that Harold Bryant and I published in Biological Reviews (77: 39-55 ). Our paper addresses common threads that run through the various critiques of phylogenetic nomenclature that have been published by Benton, Nixon & Carpenter, etc. I don't think that the point that David raises here has been discussed previously. I agree with Fredrik's preference to retain the gender of the epithet as it appears in the preexisting combination from which the species name is converted. In order to adapt the epithet to the clade address that immediately proceeds it (one possibility suggested by David), one would have to know the gender of each clade name. This would be time-consuming to determine and would be especially difficult for clade names that were not converted from genus names. David's question raises another issue. Epithet-based species names have both advantages and disadvantages, which were discussed at length in a multi-authored 1999 paper in Systematic Biology. One negative aspect of epithet-based names that was not discussed in that paper is that converting an epithet to a name will entail using an adjective as a noun. Names should be nouns, but epithets like americana, latifolia, purpurea, etc. are descriptive adjectives. If one translates the Latin into one's native language, these words sound very peculiar as names (e.g., naming a species of plant "broad-leaved"). This is an esthetic issue and not terribly important when compared to the philosophical and operational pros and cons of epithet-based and binomial-based naming methods. Nonetheless, I do think it is worth taking into consideration in the ongoing discussion of how species will be named under the PhyloCode. Phil -- Philip D. Cantino Professor and Chair Department of Environmental and Plant Biology Ohio University Athens, OH 45701-2979 U.S.A. Phone: (740) 593-1128; 593-1126 Fax: (740) 593-1130 e-mail: email@example.com