English names for the British leps

ANDREA KNEBEL Andrea.Knebel at Biologie.uni-bielefeld.de
Thu Jun 10 06:33:10 EDT 1999

Guy Van de Poel wrote:

> >history, and are accessible to anyone with a field guide to the British
> leps
> I do care, and I even have a guide to British Leps, But:
> I also have a Belgian (Dutch language) guide
> I also have a French guide,
> I also have several books on butterflies in German,
> And the only thing they have in common is the scientific name.
> >(and those who don't have this sort of reference presumably shouldn't care
> And why not ? But I do not want to get my English field guide and start
> studying English names for species I already know the scientific ones for.
> >exactly what species are being referred to), and 2) we use the English
> >language on this list server, so English names are not beyond us.  Of
> You are right, we do use English on the server, but as I exchange mail with
> other Europeans, I will use their own language when I can.  But they do not
> expect me to know the common French or German names.
> >course, I would prefer to see both the English and the Latin names in all
> >postings, but let's give credit where it is due.  The British have a
> >more-or-less stable set of English names for their fauna-- something many
> of
> >us are still struggling to promote over here.
> We are talking about Portuguese leps, of which some, but very surely not all
> occur in England, let alone further up north. I've never heard a Portuguese
> call anything 'Moroccan Orange Tip'.
> As I wrote before, there's nothing stable about names, if they do not have a
> system backing them up. Unfortunately (in this respect), the scientific
> names do not only identify a particular species, but also give you some idea
> how the species are related. And because there are always new people
> studying biology, they tend to discover new things, new relationships or no
> reasons at all for previously supposed relationships.
> And this is (partly) why the names still aren't stable, but you should
> regard this as a bonus, because it tells you science made progress again
> when a name just changed.
> Some other names, e.g. the combinations Vanessa cardui or Cynthia cardui,
> which are both used in scientific literature, tell you there is no concensus
> about which genus the species belongs to. There are (to me) equally good
> reasons to place it in either of them. But again, this can be regarded as
> extra information on the species, and in this case on the whole genus. I all
> just depends on how deep you want to go into the subject.
> But then, when you want to go deeper into the subject, use the international
> convention, as not all of us are Brits, nor Northern Americans north of the
> Mexican border (et ne pas vivant en Québec).
> By the way, one comment heard from several English-speaking participants in
> the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, Bosnia, was why 'the others' couldn't
> speak proper English. This I heard from South-Africans, Australians and US
> about Brits and vice versa. It seems that an 'international' English only
> exists in writing, as now does Latin (there are more similarities between
> English and Latin, either of them doesn't look (in writing) as it is
> pronounced, and there are several opinions on how to pronounce it [either],
> and it is, compared to e.g. French, a language that has kept its Latin roots
> in words and expressions better and closer to the original [e.g.]). So, to
> round this all up, why don't you start talking Latin ? ;-)
> Guy Van de Poel

Good points!! I am German and the only good way to easy 
understand which species you are talking about is the Latin names. 
Ok, I could buy an English butterfly book with common names (I 
even have one) but should I then also buy an Italien, Portugese? Or 
would you buy a German one?

Andrea Knebel
University Bielefeld,

More information about the Leps-l mailing list