Language for taxonomic names

Andy Mabbett andy at
Mon Sep 22 22:59:03 CEST 2008

Some years ago,, I raised the prospect of a special language code for
the taxonomic names (also called "scientific names" of living things:


These are also sometimes called "Latin names", but are not Latin; they
include many Greek words (or words derived from Greek, with Latinised
endings) and more modern neologisms from any other language, or proper
names. They should not be translated as though in Latin

Discussion petered out, both due to digression discussing the admittedly
frivolous examples I gave, and because personal circumstances prevented
my further involvement at the time.

The issue arose again recently:


on Taxacom, the mailing list for discussion of taxonomy in the digital
era, and several options were considered.

I would again like to ask for discussion of the matter, and suggestions
for a solution.

The options would seem to be (listed in my order of preference) to treat
taxonomic names as being in:

    *    a unique language, say "tax"/ "tx"; or "bio"
    *    a sub-set of Latin la-tx
    *    a "zxx" case, say "zxx-taxo"

The first of these has the advantage of resolving at the highest level,
to something unique to taxonomic names, and would allow for subsets for
the taxonomic codes:

    *    tx-icbn
    *    tx-iczn

(some on Taxacom argued that these are separate "languages"; see also
<> &
<> - though that's not a view I share.)

I'm open to other suggestions, also.

Thank you.

Andy Mabbett

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