English Names

Chris Durden drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Mon Jun 7 18:19:26 EDT 1999

  Seems like most of the strong opinions on vulgar vs. scientific names
come from North American lepidopterists who until very recently have not
used vulgar names among eachother but have been obliged make them up to put
in popular publications, on orders from the editor. Some of these name
inventions have been most frivolous and are quite offensive to regional
naturalists. (Texas bagvein indeed!). Many of us who have used local common
names in order to introduce younger naturalists to butterfly recognition
have been passed over in picking "Standard Names".
  We need an open forum for a standardization of vulgar names (I would
include in addition to English - Spanish, French, Inuit, Nahuatl, Chol,
Navajo, Lakota and others if we can find them).
  What we need now is for someone to put up a web page with an extensive
checklist of butterflies of North America (yes the whole continent from
Darien to Greenland and from Nome to Grenada. Note the mid point falls near
the Red River in Manitoba.) We should receive candidate vulgar names for
each taxon by e-mail from any interested party. These entries should be
tallied, and the merits be discussed. Should the English language name for
a particular species be the same in Canada as it is in the United states or
can there be a regional preference? (Javelina or Peccary? - we know the
animal). I am thinking here of the very useful "Catalogo de Nombres
Vulgares y Cientificos de Plantas Mexicanas" by Maximino Martinez 1979
(1991) as a model to think about.
  The Smithsonian-published book of common names could be used as a
starting point but names need to be attributed to first use and frequency
of use. More published common names need to be included in the pool.
  I have tried to use common names for more than 25 years, but with
multiple standards appearing, I am damned if I do and if I don't.
  What do you think? Should we go about soliciting an open Standard List of
Common Names for Butterflies of North America?

At 03:13 PM 1999:06:07 -0600, you wrote:
>Argumentum lepidoptorum continuum ad infinitum, so be it...


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