Names . . .

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Thu Jun 10 02:31:55 EDT 1999

Two sets of names is what we'd like, I think, on this list ...
scientific and common (needn't be English ... whatever language comes
handy) and a light-hearted approach to life if possible. 
As Pogo said, "Don't take life so serious, son; it ain't nohow
Would anybody care to look at a moth and id it for me? It is hunched
under my neighbor's piano (in Florida; isn't email wonderful!) and she
sent me a jpeg file. A sphingid, perhaps ...
As for the matter of subspecies, what frosts my garters is our habit of
running in circles waving banners to save some critter who can't be
distinguished from its relations without dissection of its genitalia. 
The public has figured this out, and it makes our efforts to preserve
habitat (which really is unique and important) much more difficult. 
We need to save the habitat of the Delhi Flower-Loving Fly; the fly
itself may not be all that unique when you get down to it. 
When they put through the highways across the mountains, the red-shafted
flickers and the yellow-shafted flickers (woodpeckers, for you
non-birders) began interbreeding with the result of a fine assortment of
orange-shafted flickers. And, as we get this DNA thing sorted out, I
imagine a lot of alleged species and subspecies will be lost in the
Ah well, it all makes work for the working man to do.
(Flanders and Swann.)
I'd be sorry, though, to lose the common names. There is magic and
mystery in the names that things are actually called by their friends.
Whereas names snatched out of the air by Linnaeus at his most desperate
are not always evocative or useful. 
Common names (for field book use) should be in the vernacular of the
country where the bug or whatever hangs out, don't you think? If the
book is in English, then the English name could certainly be added, if
there is one. 
The bird book I use here has a handful of names for each bird ... 
But, unless a bug is useful, edible or annoying, it isn't likely to have
a common name. I see no reason to invent one unless an editor demands
it. In such a case, just translate the scientific one. 
I keep hoping someone will name a dung beetle after me; I have, like our
Creator, an inordinate fondness for beetles. 
Anne Kilmer
"DR. JAMES ADAMS" wrote:
> Dear listers,
> > >  (I wrote:)  I truly *do* believe that the English speaking
> > >world is very ethnocentric in terms of demanding common name usage.
> > >This is nothing short of inconsiderate and rude to the rest of the
> > >world . . .
> Then John Grehan wrote:
> > But not all members of the English speaking world are making
> > the demand for common name usage.
> Of course not.  This was even the point I was trying to make.  You
> know how when you are writing something off the top of your head, you
> don't always catch yourself when you make blanket statements.  I
> clearly should have said that there is a much larger percentage (at
> least it seems so to me -- no, I don't have any data) of
> English-speakers promoting/demanding use of common names.  John, I,
> too, am *not* among them.  As far as I'm concerned, it is a shame
> that the scientific name is not used in all cases as the common name.
> One set of names (instead of two) would really make this discussion
> trivial.
>               James
> Dr. James K. Adams
> Dept. of Natural Science and Math
> Dalton State College
> 213 N. College Drive
> Dalton, GA  30720
> Phone: (706)272-4427; fax: (706)272-2533
> U of Michigan's President James Angell's
>   Secret of Success: "Grow antennae, not horns"

More information about the Leps-l mailing list