Suggestion: Tag or Sub- tag for Scientific names

Jon Hanna jon at
Mon Feb 3 12:55:35 CET 2003

> > Doug, apparently, these are actual scientific names.
> > I googgled for heerz lookenatcha and  found several pages confirming
> > them.
> > Apparently years of looking at tiny bugs to categorize them, affects
> > your sense of humor.
> > agra vation is a legit species....
> OK, I stand corrected.  In that case, I would suggest that the entire
> field of Scientific Latin has disqualified itself for a separate
> language tag.  One might as well register en-piglatin.

I wonder if "abra cadabra" has fever-reducing properties...

Humour in the etymology of words hardly disqualifies the dialect.

There are two qualities that binominals have that make them different from "common" names, even in cases where the common name and the binominal is the same (though that state would not be language-neutral).

1. The binominals are part of a agreed-on ontology and hence are to some degree comparable to identifiers like URIs, ISBNs or UUIDs.

2. The binominals are internationalised by use of a language other than that of any given commentator.

The first is the reason for a "do not translate" mechanism as mentioned, but it is a matter of the relationship between the signifier and signified being special, and since we are concerned with the communication of signifiers it isn't our concern here.

The second is where we may or may not have a case for using a language tag. As such we have 3 options:

1. Do not mark the binominal as being of a different language to any other text (i.e. "troglodytes troglodytes is very small" is English in its entirety and "troglodytes troglodytes est tres petit" is, no doubt flawed, French in its entirety).

2. Use "la" for the binominal.

3. Use "la-sci" for the binominal.

Solution 1 lacks all information on the use. How is a system to know how to pronounce the term? How is a user to know how to trace the term. "Troglodytes troglodytes" is not English.

Solution 2 poses the same problem if the main language used in Latin (rare, but I doubt this is unheard of). It is to a certain extent untrue (e.g. "abracadabra" above is not an organism in "normal" Latin, it is a medieval magical cure for fever of Arabic origin, this is what I would assume was meant if I came across <someTag xml:lang="la">abra cadabra</someTag>). While the like of "heerz lookenatcha" shows that we are not dealing with "normal" Latin, it is where normal Latin *is* used that the possibility of ambiguity and misinterpretation is greatest.

Solution 3 has no such problems in and of itself that I can see. The only problems are those of adoption and adaptation that come with all new codes.

I think "la-sci" is accurate and appropriate.

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