I'm sorry that I have to continue this pointless discussion, as I have far better things to do, but I have been challenged to respond and therefore must do so. I can only reiterate that the whole point of the use of aff. or cf. (etc) is, as also patiently explained by Dylan Hannon, to indicate a perceived relationship or similarity between specimens under consideration. Whether this is a real kinship or not is totally immaterial; that is what the further study indicated by the use of such a cipher will determine. If this term is as inaccurate as Jim McKenney seems to think, it is very curious that the world's botanists are perfectly happy to use it in their day to day work (without requiring any form of definition or rules for usage). John Grimshaw Dr John M. Grimshaw Sycamore Cottage Colesbourne Nr Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL53 9NP ----- Original Message ----- From: "Jim McKenney" <email@example.com> To: "'Pacific Bulb Society'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 12:23 AM Subject: Re: [pbs] Aff - able? John Grimshaw wrote: "I am surprised at the usually so-precise Jim McKenney's outburst against the invaluable word affinis, abbreviated to aff...Aff. means quite clearly and simply, 'akin to...'" John, let me see if I can persuade you that I am trying to be as precise as I usually try to be. Because there appears to be a compliment of sorts to me in the quote above, I will attempt in my response to be affable and to avoid outbursts. I object to the use of this term affinis in the way being discussed because it is illogical: it does not deliver what it promises. It purports to state the very things which are in fact unknown: relationship and identity. The word akin expresses natural relationship, not mere similarity. What sense does it make to use the word akin before such natural relationship is established? This distinction between natural relationship and mere similarity is the salient difference between modern taxonomy and taxonomy as practiced up until the beginning of the twentieth century. Isn't this usage of affinis a vestige of nineteenth century taxonomic practice and thought, a vestige of the times when taxonomists believed that if things looked alike, they must be related? You know as well as I do that similar appearance does not necessarily indicate natural relationship. A better term would be simulans, in the sense of resembling. That word avoids any implication of necessary biological relationship.