Narcissus albimarginatus

Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:56:22 PST

And then there is this: current taxonomic practice is itself practice in the 
tradition of New Latin. If contemporary taxonomists decide that scientific 
names should now be spelled a certain way, how is that decision any 
different than the decision in past times to spell some words in ways not 
fully in agreement with classical Latin precedent for similarly constructed 
words? That the motivation for doing this among some contemporary 
taxonomists is to allow current usage to mirror classical usage is not the 
real issue: isn't the real issue is to standardize orthographic practice?

Taxonomic "Latin" is entirely the product of New Latin (the Latin of 
Linnaeus), not Old Latin (the Latin of Julius Caesar). The spelling rules 
evolved through common practice, and they seem to amount to two: one, 
agreement in specific epithets, and two, the person making up the new name 
gets to spell it any old way they want, even to the point of completely 
ignoring agreement and the fact that some of the words they use aren't Latin 
at all (Camassia quamash).
Standardizing orthographic practice in a language system which has already 
declared that the orthography of Old Latin is not to be followed makes very 
little sense to me, and it makes even less sense for the meaning of the 
words. Example, changing Penstemon tubaeflorus ("trumpet-flowered") to P. 
tubiflorus ("tube-flowered"). And no, "tubiflorus" doesn't also mean 
"trumpet-flowered" in Old Latin, unless someone can show an instance of it 
being used that way, say in Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
And why not then change Calochortus weedii to C. vidii?

New Latin, being a written language using letters and aphthongs not known in 
Old Latin, has no rules of pronunciation based on a language in which those 
words could never have existed, and the words in New Latin are correctly 
pronounced as words in the speaker's native tongue. This is tacitly 
acknowledged in a number of botanical works where pronunciation is given, 
e.g. Britton & Brown, Munz's California Flora, etc.


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