What's in a name ---conclusion
viceroy at anu.ie
Wed Jun 9 04:45:45 EDT 1999
Gary Anweiler wrote:
> In the past year or two we have managed to create a growing group of moth
> nuts here in Alberta. I believe this has been greatly facilitated by our
> need for and access to names.
One of the most delightful mornings in my life was spent with a bunch of
butterfliers in Ireland ... Trevor Boyd was emptying a moth trap as we
waited for the group to assemble and the sun to join our happy crowd,
and he read out the moths as he tumbled them from the egg cartons where
they were sheltering.
The Engish names are poetic, evocative, charming ... I don't think it
would have been nearly as interesting if the names had all been Latin.
But we were an English-speaking crowd ...
The gardeners of my acquaintance are frightened by the scientific names
of plants, let alone those of butterflies, and uncomforted by the notion
that they already use many of the Latin names. It is my duty and
pleasure to work with Master Gardeners, and students working toward that
high honor, designing techniques for wildlife gardening in Florida, and
working out ways to persuade the public to use those techniques. So I
have considerable experience with learners and their powers of
Our best recourse is to catch 'em young, and teach the children to call
butterflies by both sets of names. Taxonomy is perhaps best approached
when it is your habit to do at least one difficult thing before
But botany and its friends were made poisonously dull by the enforced
memorization of all those names, even for Catholics, accustomed to the
sweet flow of Latin in the Mass.
There is no royal road to learning, and perhaps the discipline of
looking 'em up and writing 'em down is good for us. The scientific names
are at least not boring ... Doug, is your nice page on the subject still
:-) please add one of these to any sentence you find too opinionated,
and see if you like it better. For I am a humor columnist by trade ...
> Ta ta
> Gary Anweiler, Edmonton Alberta .. a place where it is winter half the year
> and then it doesn't get dark until 11 PM - tough country for moth
> enthusiats !.
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