Common names

Jim Taylor 1_iron at
Thu Jun 3 09:21:26 EDT 1999

Folks, I had a pair of PAINTED BUNTINGS at my feeder this morning.
Capitalization of the first letter is simply insufficient for these birds. I
am considering underscoring and bold type as well.
(Make you homesick, Anne?)
Jim Taylor
South Georgia
----- Original Message -----
From: John Acorn <janature at>
To: <viceroy at>
Cc: <leps-l at>
Sent: Thursday, June 03, 1999 2:51 AM
Subject: Re: Common names

> Fellow Lep-namers,
> Michael Gochfeld argues that English names for species be capitalized,
> Anne Kilmer thinks they should not.  The whole thing seems to hinge on
> whether a species deserves a name that is "a proper noun in that it denote
> specific entity."  This reminds me of the long, confusing, and largely
> unresolved debate in systematics regarding whether a species should be
> considered a group or an individual.  For the most part, even discussing
> these things allows one to wander way too deeply into metaphysics for any
> hope of a clear answer.
> However, I have to say that as a nature writer myself, I use capitals for
> all names that refer to species, for exactly the reasons that Michael
> explained.  No one I have spoken with here in North America has ever
> considered them old-fashioned, and it seems to me that the only way to do
> without them is to write only for those who already know all of the names,
> and recognize them when they appear.  That's fine for some birders, but
> there are a lot of insects out there with brand new shiny names that most
> people have not yet encountered!
> Mind you, I have the luxury of dealing with publishers who are willing to
> take my advice...
> John Acorn
> Edmonton, Alberta

More information about the Leps-l mailing list