Ferraria/Spelling rules

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 18:01:02 PST

I think you mean "densepunctulata", not "densepunctatula".

One important aspect that many people do not realize in these cases is
that botanical Latin is really a language unto itself and is distinct
from, though obviously derived from, classical Latin. Thus confusion
can arise even for those with a background in classical Latin. The
rules of botanical Latin conform to the specialized needs of botany.
This applies to the formation of names as well as Latin diagnoses or
formal descriptions in Latin.


On 10/12/2008, Jim McKenney <> wrote:
> Here is my take on the names Mary Sue mentioned.
>  Densepunctatula is an example of the problem caused by old time botanists
>  who did not always make careful distinctions between parts of speech. In the
>  past authors of names often simply strung out two or more nouns (typically
>  one of the genitive) or other parts of speech to make a compound word. In
>  this particular case, the intention was probably to combine the Latin word
>  (an adverb) "dense" with punctatula to indicate thickly speckled or
>  something like that (assuming that a speckle is a little spot). Had the word
>  been published as dense-punctatula, I think it would have met the
>  requirements of the code. Some of you perhaps know or grow the fern
>  Thelypteris decursive-pinnata. The name is sometimes incorrectly written
>  decursivepinnata, without the hyphen. If you want to write it without the
>  hyphen, it should be decursivipinnata.
>  Modern attempts to standardize nomenclature have rejected most if not all of
>  these compound words formed by the "string them together" method  and
>  converted them into compound words formed with the typical connective vowel
>  i for compounds of Latin words (and if you follow the text-book Latin
>  pronunciations as I do, keep in mind that this i is a short i). In Greek
>  words the connective vowel is a short o. In both Latin and Greek these
>  connective vowels are so-called weak vowels and thus frequently change into
>  a different vowel if they end up next to a strong vowel. The practical
>  consequence of this is that you will see words which are obviously compound
>  words, and in which you can recognize the component parts, but nevertheless
>  the connective vowel is not short i or short o.
>  Another practice which began to be common about forty years ago is to base
>  family names on the oblique stem of words and not the nominative stem. Thus
>  the genus Melastoma in older works is placed in the family Melastomaceae,
>  but in modern works the name of the family is built from the oblique stem
>  and is spelled Melastomatacese. The iris family provides another example:
>  the genitive of iris is iridis, and the family name is built on that as
>  Iridaceae.
>  Once you understand this, you might notice other seeming anomalies – and
>  perhaps be able to figure them out for yourself. For instance, Aloe is
>  properly a three syllable word and some of us still write it as Aloë. The
>  letter combination  oe in Latin is a diphthong, so without the dieresis you
>  would expect the family name to be spelled Alaceae. But the stem is alo- and
>  the family name is thus Aloaceae.
>  The spelling variations in Dutch names reflect the surprising fact that
>  Dutch, as I understand it, underwent a big spelling standardization as
>  recently as the 1940s. This reform resulted in such old spellings as –ij
>  being written in modern Dutch as y. In the case cited by Mary Sue, the
>  author of the name in question used the old-time spelling and someone
>  attempted to correct it to the modern Dutch spelling. I don't know what the
>  code says about that, but it should be easy to find out.
>  Similar problems arise when names are transliterated from the Cyrillic
>  alphabet to the Roman alphabet. I suspect that is why generations of western
>  gardeners wrote Allium christophii when they should have been writing A.
>  cristophii.
>  A related problem occurs with names from those languages which do not voice
>  final consonants. For instance, many Russian names end in the patronymic –ov
>  (as in, for instance, Corydalis popovii). When such names are spoken in
>  Russian, the final v is pronounced as an f. For me, this poses a bit of a
>  conundrum with respect to the pronunciation of these names as botanical
>  names: in the botanical specific epithet popovii that v is not in word-final
>  position. Should it be pronounced as a v or as an f? I can't wait to try
>  this out on a native speaker of Russian.
>  Hannon's comments on the way a final r is treated reflect the peculiar
>  nature of the sounds represented in different languages by the symbol r.
>  Some of those sounds are true consonantal sounds (and thus get the ii
>  ending) and some are not (and thus get the i ending). It's been a while
>  since I've seen the code (and I have yet to see the current one) and I don't
>  know if this is spelled out in the code. When I have some free time I'll try
>  to check it out.
>  With respect to the Tropaeolum name, a quick look at ipni suggests that
>  Tropaeolum tricolorum is not a validly published name and Tropaeolum
>  tricolor is. I can't help but wonder if someone "corrected" tricolor to
>  tricolorum to match the ending of the genus. Note that the word tricolor is
>  an adjective whose nominative singular forms are the same for all three
>  genders. (I think I might have described it as a noun in an earlier post on
>  this topic – sorry if I did).
>  Less skilled editors often "correct" certain names: Sedum cauticola (which
>  is correct) to  Sedum cauticolum (which is not),  Platycodon grandiflorus
>  (which is correct)  to Platycodon grandiflorum (which is not).
>  There are a lot of ways things can go wrong; I've tried most of them myself!
>  I spent the day out in the garden planting bulbs – I've still got more to
>  go. It was a perfect day for garden work – mild, temps in the 50s F,
>  overcast and misty, a few rain drops. To those of you to whom I have
>  promised bulbs and seeds, don't give up! Once I get my grubby, muddy garden
>  clothes on, I don't leave the garden (indeed, I'm barely allowed into the
>  house in that state). The big freeze up, which old time gardeners in this
>  area placed at December 5, has not yet occurred this year. So I'm on
>  borrowed time, and pushing hard to beat that deadline.
>  For me, there are few pleasures in gardening as sublime as the sense of
>  expectation which sets in and replaces the anxiety surrounding the annual
>  autumnal planting. I'm almost there.
>  Sorry to go on so much: it helps to unwind after a very busy, tiring day.
>  Jim McKenney
>  Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
>  7, where Iris unguicularis is blooming freely now: what a treat!
>  My Virtual Maryland Garden
>  BLOG!
>  Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS
>  Editor PVC Bulletin
>  Webmaster Potomac Lily Society
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