Language for taxonomic names, redux

Michael Everson everson at
Wed Feb 22 20:07:22 CET 2017

On 22 Feb 2017, at 17:32, Andy Mabbett <andy at> wrote:

>> Styling? Just italic, right?
> No. Taxonomic names /should/ be styled using italics. But an individual publisher (or an individual reader, using a local CSS) might choose to have them in, say red text on a yellow background.

That sounds a little bit far-fetched. But see Peter Constable’s reply. 

>> That’s not a half-dozen terms.
> My examples were intended to be illustrate, not quantitative.

No, but if the problem to be avoided is automatic translation, something somewhat more quantitative would be more indicative that there is a problem. I see your 350 names with “minor” in them, fair enough, but that’s very far away from 1.4 million.

>> I doubt that English, French, German, or Japanese users pronounce “Eurema desjardinsii” in the same way.
> Perhaps not; but they arguably should.

Um, no way. According to what standard? English? Classical Latin? Is it [ˈhoʊmoʊ ˈseɪpiɛnz]? [ˈhoʊmoʊ ˈsæpiɛnz]? [ˈhomo ˈsapjɛns]? 

> And any difference is likely to be down to accent, not language.

No; Germans will very likely say [tsitʀo] and not [ˈsɪtɹoʊ]. That’s not just “accent”. 

> I (a monolingual Englishman) have been able to indicate birds and plants to a monolingual German, and vice versa, using taxonomic names.

Splendid, but this does not answer the question. There are surely different pronunciations common for these, differing from country to country and language to language. What prefix or prefixes would you intend this subtag to be used with?

>>> -taxon would satisfy that requirement, and its meaning should be clear and understandable internationally.
>> I would judge that to be too obscure; “taxonomy” can refer to many schemes. Some other terms for this
>> nomenclature are “binomen”, and “binomial name”, “binomial nomenclature”, “scientific name”, “Latin name”.
>> As I said, I think -linnaeus would be much clearer.
> "taxon" is not the same word as "taxonomy”.

Yes, but it is pretty opaque, and I’d still consider -linnaeus to be a more informative subtag. 

Michael Everson

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