Common name

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In biology, a common name of a taxon or organism (also known as a vernacular name, English name, colloquial name, trivial name, trivial epithet, country name, popular name, or farmer's name) is a name that is based on the normal language of everyday life; and is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism, which is Latinized. A common name is sometimes frequently used, but that is not always the case. [1]

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Sometimes common names are created by authorities on one particular subject, in an attempt to make it possible for members of the general public (including such interested parties as fishermen, farmers, etc.) to be able to refer to one particular species of organism without needing to be able to memorise or pronounce the Latinized scientific name. Creating an "official" list of common names can also be an attempt to standardize the use of common names, which can sometimes vary a great deal between one part of a country and another, as well as between one country and another country, even where the same language is spoken in both places. [2]

Use as part of folk taxonomy

A common name intrinsically plays a part in a classification of objects, typically an incomplete and informal classification, in which some names are degenerate examples in that they are unique and lack reference to any other name, as is the case with say, ginkgo , okapi , and ratel . [3] Folk taxonomy, which is a classification of objects using common names, has no formal rules and need not be consistent or logical in its assignment of names, so that say, not all flies are called flies (for example Braulidae, the so-called "bee lice") and not every animal called a fly is indeed a fly (such as dragonflies and mayflies). [4] In contrast, scientific or biological nomenclature is a global system that attempts to denote particular organisms or taxa uniquely and definitively, on the assumption that such organisms or taxa are well-defined and generally also have well-defined interrelationships; [5] accordingly the ICZN has formal rules for biological nomenclature and convenes periodic international meetings to further that purpose. [6]

Common names and the binomial system

The form of scientific names for organisms, called binomial nomenclature, is superficially similar to the noun-adjective form of vernacular names or common names which were used by prehistoric cultures. A collective name such as owl was made more precise by the addition of an adjective such as screech. [7] Linnaeus himself published a Flora of his homeland Sweden, Flora Svecica (1745), and in this, he recorded the Swedish common names, region by region, as well as the scientific names. The Swedish common names were all binomials (e.g. plant no. 84 Råg-losta and plant no. 85 Ren-losta); the vernacular binomial system thus preceded his scientific binomial system. [8]

Linnaean authority William T. Stearn said:

By the introduction of his binomial system of nomenclature, Linnaeus gave plants and animals an essentially Latin nomenclature like vernacular nomenclature in style but linked to published, and hence relatively stable and verifiable, scientific concepts and thus suitable for international use. [9]

Geographic range of use

The geographic range over which a particularly common name is used varies; some common names have a very local application, while others are virtually universal within a particular language. Some such names even apply across ranges of languages; the word for cat, for instance, is easily recognizable in most Germanic and many Romance languages. Many vernacular names, however, are restricted to a single country and colloquial names to local districts. [10]

Constraints and problems

Common names are used in the writings of both professionals and laymen. Lay people sometimes object to the use of scientific names over common names, but the use of scientific names can be defended, as it is in these remarks from a book on marine fish: [11]

Coining common names

In scientific binomial nomenclature, names commonly are derived from classical or modern Latin or Greek or Latinised forms of vernacular words or coinages; such names generally are difficult for laymen to learn, remember, and pronounce and so, in such books as field guides, biologists commonly publish lists of coined common names. Many examples of such common names simply are attempts to translate the Latinised name into English or some other vernacular. Such translation may be confusing in itself, or confusingly inaccurate, [13] for example, gratiosus does not mean "gracile" and gracilis does not mean "graceful". [14] [15]

The practice of coining common names has long been discouraged; de Candolle's Laws of Botanical Nomenclature, 1868, [16] the non-binding recommendations that form the basis of the modern (now binding) International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants contains the following:

Art. 68. Every friend of science ought to be opposed to the introduction into a modern language of names of plants that are not already there unless they are derived from a Latin botanical name that has undergone but a slight alteration. ... ought the fabrication of names termed vulgar names, totally different from Latin ones, to be proscribed. The public to whom they are addressed derives no advantage from them because they are novelties. Lindley's work, The Vegetable Kingdom, would have been better relished in England had not the author introduced into it so many new English names, that are to be found in no dictionary, and that do not preclude the necessity of learning with what Latin names they are synonymous. A tolerable idea may be given of the danger of too great a multiplicity of vulgar names, by imagining what geography would be, or, for instance, the Post-office administration, supposing every town had a totally different name in every language.

Various bodies and the authors of many technical and semi-technical books do not simply adapt existing common names for various organisms; they try to coin (and put into common use) comprehensive, useful, authoritative, and standardised lists of new names. The purpose typically is:

Other attempts to reconcile differences between widely separated regions, traditions, and languages, by arbitrarily imposing nomenclature, often reflect narrow perspectives and have unfortunate outcomes. For example, members of the genus Burhinus occur in Australia, Southern Africa, Eurasia, and South America. A recent trend in field manuals and bird lists is to use the name "thick-knee" for members of the genus. This, in spite of the fact that the majority of the species occur in non-English-speaking regions and have various common names, not always English. For example, "Dikkop" is the centuries-old South African vernacular name for their two local species: Burhinus capensis is the Cape dikkop (or "gewone dikkop", [17] not to mention the presumably much older Zulu name "umBangaqhwa"); Burhinus vermiculatus is the "water dikkop". [18] [19] The thick joints in question are not even, in fact, the birds’ knees, but the intertarsal joints—in lay terms the ankles. Furthermore, not all species in the genus have “thick knees”, so the thickness of the "knees" of some species is not of clearly descriptive significance. The family Burhinidae has members that have various common names even in English, including “stone curlews”, [20] so the choice of the name “thick-knees” is not easy to defend but is a clear illustration of the hazards of the facile coinage of terminology. [21]

Lists that include common names

Lists of general interest

Collective nouns

For collective nouns for various subjects see a list of collective nouns (e.g. a flock of sheep, pack of wolves)

Official lists

Some organizations have created official lists of common names, or guidelines for creating common names, hoping to standardize the use of common names.

For example, the Australian Fish Names List or AFNS was compiled through a process involving work by taxonomic and seafood industry experts, drafted using the CAAB (Codes for Australian Aquatic Biota) taxon management system of the CSIRO, [2] and including input through public and industry consultations by the Australian Fish Names Committee (AFNC). The AFNS has been an official Australian Standard since July 2007 and has existed in draft form (The Australian Fish Names List) since 2001. Seafood Services Australia (SSA) serve as the Secretariat for the AFNC. SSA is an accredited Standards Australia (Australia's peak non-government standards development organisation) Standards Development [22]

The Entomological Society of America maintains a database of official common names of insects, and proposals for new entries must be submitted and reviewed by a formal committee before being added to the listing. [23]

A set of guidelines for the creation of English names for birds was published in The Auk in 1978. [24] It gave rise to Birds of the World: Recommended English Names and its Spanish and French companions.

The Academy of the Hebrew Language publish from time to time short dictionaries of common name in Hebrew for species that occur in Israel or surrounding countries e.g. for Reptilia in 1938, Osteichthyes in 2012, Odonata in 2015 etc...

See also

Related Research Articles

Linnaean taxonomy A rank based classification system for organisms

Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts:

  1. the particular form of biological classification (taxonomy) set up by Carl Linnaeus, as set forth in his Systema Naturae (1735) and subsequent works. In the taxonomy of Linnaeus there are three kingdoms, divided into classes, and they, in turn, into orders, genera, and species, with an additional rank lower than species.
  2. a term for rank-based classification of organisms, in general. That is, taxonomy in the traditional sense of the word: rank-based scientific classification. This term is especially used as opposed to cladistic systematics, which groups organisms into clades. It is attributed to Linnaeus, although he neither invented the concept of ranked classification nor gave it its present form. In fact, it does not have an exact present form, as "Linnaean taxonomy" as such does not really exist: it is a collective (abstracting) term for what actually are several separate fields, which use similar approaches.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Binomial nomenclature System of identifying species of organisms using a two-part name

In taxonomy, binomial nomenclature, also called binominal nomenclature or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages. Such a name is called a binomial name, a binomen, binominal name or a scientific name; more informally it is also called a Latin name.

In biological classification, the order is

  1. a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family. An immediately higher rank, superorder, may be added directly above order, while suborder would be a lower rank.
  2. a taxonomic unit, a taxon, in that rank. In that case the plural is orders.
Cultivar Plant or grouping of plants selected for desirable characteristics

A cultivar is an assemblage of plants selected for desirable characteristics that are maintained during propagation. More generally, a cultivar is the most basic classification category of cultivated plants in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). Most cultivars arise in cultivation, but some are from wild plants that have distinctive characteristics.

Taxon Group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms which have distinguishing characteristics in common

In biology, a taxon is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. Although neither is required, a taxon is usually known by a particular name and given a particular ranking, especially if and when it is accepted or becomes established. It is very common, however, for taxonomists to remain at odds over what belongs to a taxon and the criteria used for inclusion. If a taxon is given a formal scientific name, its use is then governed by one of the nomenclature codes specifying which scientific name is correct for a particular grouping.

Nomenclature is a system of names or terms, or the rules for forming these terms in a particular field of arts or sciences. The principles of naming vary from the relatively informal conventions of everyday speech to the internationally agreed principles, rules and recommendations that govern the formation and use of the specialist terms used in scientific and any other disciplines.

<i>International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants</i> Code of scientific nomenclature

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) is the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical names that are given to plants, fungi and a few other groups of organisms, all those "traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants". It was formerly called the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN); the name was changed at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne in July 2011 as part of the Melbourne Code which replaced the Vienna Code of 2005.

Type (biology) Specimen(s) to which a scientific name is formally attached

In biology, a type is a particular specimen of an organism to which the scientific name of that organism is formally attached. In other words, a type is an example that serves to anchor or centralize the defining features of that particular taxon. In older usage, a type was a taxon rather than a specimen.

Botanical name Scientific name for a plant, alga or fungus

A botanical name is a formal scientific name conforming to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and, if it concerns a plant cultigen, the additional cultivar or Group epithets must conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The code of nomenclature covers "all organisms traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants, whether fossil or non-fossil, including blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), chytrids, oomycetes, slime moulds and photosynthetic protists with their taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups ."

<i>Species Plantarum</i> Book by Carl Linnæus

Species Plantarum is a book by Carl Linnaeus, originally published in 1753, which lists every species of plant known at the time, classified into genera. It is the first work to consistently apply binomial names and was the starting point for the naming of plants.

Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this process. The starting point for modern botanical nomenclature is Linnaeus' Species Plantarum of 1753. Botanical nomenclature is governed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), which replaces the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). Fossil plants are also covered by the code of nomenclature.

The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP), also known as the Cultivated Plant Code, is a guide to the rules and regulations for naming cultigens, plants whose origin or selection is primarily due to intentional human activity. Cultigens under the purview of the ICNCP include cultivars, Groups, and grexes. All organisms traditionally considered to be plants are included. Taxa that receive a name under the ICNCP will also be included within taxa named under the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, for example, a cultivar is a member of a species.

In zoological nomenclature, the specific name is the second part within the scientific name of a species. The first part of the name of a species is the name of the genus or the generic name. The rules and regulations governing the giving of a new species name are explained in the article species description.

<i>Philosophia Botanica</i>

Philosophia Botanica was published by the Swedish naturalist and physician Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) who greatly influenced the development of botanical taxonomy and systematics in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is "the first textbook of descriptive systematic botany and botanical Latin". It also contains Linnaeus's first published description of his binomial nomenclature.

Cultivated plant taxonomy

Cultivated plant taxonomy is the study of the theory and practice of the science that identifies, describes, classifies, and names cultigens—those plants whose origin or selection is primarily due to intentional human activity. Cultivated plant taxonomists do, however, work with all kinds of plants in cultivation.

A species description is a formal description of a newly discovered species, usually in the form of a scientific paper. Its purpose is to give a clear description of a new species of organism and explain how it differs from species which have been described previously or are related. The species description often contains photographs or other illustrations of the type material and states in which museums it has been deposited. The publication in which the species is described gives the new species a formal scientific name. Some 1.9 million species have been identified and described, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist. Millions more have become extinct throughout the existence of life on Earth.

<i>Critica Botanica</i>

Critica Botanica was written by Swedish botanist, physician, zoologist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778). The book was published in Germany when Linnaeus was twenty-nine with a discursus by the botanist Johannes Browallius (1707–1755), bishop of Åbo. The first edition was published in July 1737 under the full title Critica botanica in qua nomina plantarum generica, specifica & variantia examini subjiciuntur, selectoria confirmantur, indigna rejiciuntur; simulque doctrina circa denominationem plantarum traditur. Seu Fundamentorum botanicorum pars IV Accedit Johannis Browallii De necessitate historiae naturalis discursus.

Botanical Latin is a technical language based on New Latin, used for descriptions of botanical taxa. Until 2012, International Code of Botanical Nomenclature mandated Botanical Latin to be used for the descriptions of most new taxa. It is still the only language other than English accepted for descriptions. The names of organisms governed by the Code also have forms based on Latin.

References

Citations

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  2. 1 2 List of standardised Australian fish names – November 2004 Draft Archived 2016-05-03 at the Wayback Machine . CSIRO
  3. Brown, Lesley (1993). The New shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical principles. Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon. ISBN   0-19-861271-0.
  4. Alan Weaving; Mike Picker; Griffiths, Charles Llewellyn (2003). Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. New Holland Publishers, Ltd. ISBN   1-86872-713-0.
  5. D. L. Hawksworth (2010). Terms Used in Bionomenclature: The Naming of Organisms and Plant Communities : Including Terms Used in Botanical, Cultivated Plant, Phylogenetic, Phytosociological, Prokaryote (bacteriological), Virus, and Zoological Nomenclature. GBIF. pp. 1–215. ISBN   978-87-92020-09-3.
  6. Conklin, Harold C. 1980. Folk Classification: A Topically Arranged Bibliography of Contemporary and Background References through 1971. New Haven, CT: Yale University Department of Anthropology. ISBN   0-913516-02-3.
  7. Stearn 1959, p. 6, 9.
  8. Stearn 1959, pp. 9–10.
  9. Stearn 1959, p.10.
  10. Brickell, C.D., Baum, B.R., Hetterscheid, W.J.A., Leslie, A.C., McNeill. J., Trehane, P., Vrugtman, F., Wiersema, J.H. (eds.) 2004. International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. ed. 7. Acta Horticulturae 647 (Regnum Veg. 144)
  11. 1 2 Heemstra, Phillip C.; Smith, Margaret (1999). Smith's Sea Fishes. Southern Book Publishers. ISBN   1-86812-032-5.
  12. Judd et al. (2008). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, Third Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA.
  13. Reeder, Deeann; Wilson, Don W. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN   0-8018-8221-4.
  14. Marchant, J. R. V.; Charles, Joseph F. (1952). Cassell's Latin Dictionary. London: Cassell.
  15. Tucker, T. G. (1931). A Concise Etymological Dictionary of Latin. Halle (Saale): Max Niemeyer Verlag.
  16. de Candolle, A. (1868). Laws of Botanical Nomenclature adopted by the International Botanical Congress held at Paris in August 1867; together with an Historical Introduction and Commentary by Alphonse de Candolle, Translated from the French. translated by Hugh Algernon Weddell. London: L. Reeve and Co. p. 36, 72
  17. Bosman, D. B.; Van der Merwe I. W. & Hiemstra, L. W. (1984). Tweetalige Woordeboek Afrikaans-Engels. Tafelberg-uitgewers. ISBN   0-624-00533-X.
  18. Lockwood, Geoffrey; Roberts, Austin; Maclean, Gordon L.; Newman, Kenneth B. (1985). Robertsڃ birds of southern Africa. Cape Town: Trustees of the J. Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN   0-620-07681-X.
  19. Roberts, Austin (2005). Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. Trustees of J. Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN   0-620-34053-3.
  20. Les Christidis; Walter Boles (January 2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Csiro Publishing. pp. 129–. ISBN   978-0-643-06511-6.
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  22. Overview Archived 2006-09-23 at the Wayback Machine : Australian Fish Names Standard. Seafood Services Australia
  23. Common Names of Insects Database
  24. Parkes K.C. (1978). "A guide to forming and capitalizing compound names of birds in English" (PDF). The Auk . 95 (2): 324–326.

Sources