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Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

This is a discussion on Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names within the Forum Questions (technical, not newts!) forums, part of the General Discussion & News from Members category; My wife pointed out that more and more lately I tend to speak and write of different animals by their ...

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Old 12th May 2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

My wife pointed out that more and more lately I tend to speak and write of different animals by their scientific nomenclature, rather than common names. I explained to her that I found this necessary, as I get confused by common names (I had no idea what a spring lizard was, and what I thought to be a "tiger" is actually an "eastern tiger" etc, etc.) and regional names are even worse. She countered with the statement "Yeah, but no body else has a clue what the @#$#@% you are talking about." I then explained that the rest of the "caudate geeks" understand without issue. Then she asked what a caudate was...

Throw in folks that speak or read English as a second or third language, or use translation software like I do, and it makes for a real mess.

So, my question to you folks is this:

What is preferred for the forums here?



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Old 12th May 2009   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Scientific nomenclature definitely.



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Old 12th May 2009   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Hey,

same here. After few years of reading you may be able to tell what is what by common names in english but if you are beginner it is really hard to understand what species people means.
Sad thing - most people here use common name or I just read topics with common names.

One vote for scientific names :).

Regards.



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Old 12th May 2009   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Funny story: a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Bonett (salamander biologist who recently re-organised the Eurycea species in the Ozarks). I would ask him a question and his answer would include the common name of a species (because I'm sure that's what most people understand). I had to keep asking him every time "what one is that" because I had no idea which scientific name belonged to which common name. That made me realise that perhaps I've gone too far in the scientific name direction. It does make life simple though. However, how you pronounce the scientific name is another thing entirely - half the time it takes me a second to figure out what people are talking about when they say the scientific name because I am used to only reading it and so my idea of how it's pronounced usually differs greatly from how other people pronounce it...



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Old 12th May 2009   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Scientific nomenclature, definitely.

John, thatīs very true. Iīm used to the latin pronunciation (i guess itīs just because of the large similarities between latin and spanish) and i find it very hard to understand a scientific name when they are pronounced diferently.
Itīs just an example, but i find that particularly, english speakers englishize latin names an awful lot. In the rare ocassion that iīve had to say a scientific name to an english speaker iīve found that they didnīt understand the words the way i pronounce them, either.
There seem to be huge differences in the way each one of us pronounce the words.



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Old 12th May 2009   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Quote:
Originally Posted by azhael View Post
Itīs just an example, but i find that particularly, english speakers englishize latin names an awful lot.
Absolutely. I studied Latin for 6 years from 12-17 inclusive (a rarity today in my home country), and while I was taught that no one knows exactly how to pronounce classical Latin, we did apply rules used today in Latin (which is kept alive by Vatican Radio, for example). So when I say "maculatum", it sounds like mac (like the computer) ul (ryhmes with full but with a y at the beginning, so a little like "you'll" without the ooo), atum (similar to atom but the um sound rhymes with tum from tummy). Americans (hi Nate!) say this word similarly except for the "atum" - they say eight-um (eight as in the number). They do the same for opacum, pronouncing it like the English "opaque"-um. Bless 'em.



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Old 12th May 2009   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

I vastly prefer scientific binomials when dealing with most animals. It doesn't seem to be quite as big an issue with a lot of avians or mammals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John View Post
So when I say "maculatum", it sounds like mac (like the computer) ul (ryhmes with full but with a y at the beginning, so a little like "you'll" without the ooo), atum (similar to atom but the um sound rhymes with tum from tummy). Americans (hi Nate!) say this word similarly except for the "atum" - they say eight-um (eight as in the number). They do the same for opacum, pronouncing it like the English "opaque"-um. Bless 'em.
Really? I pronounce maculatum and opacum just like you, John. I've never studied Latin and I was born and raised in Minnesota. The first time I heard someone pronounced Ambystoma I was a bit surprised as I never pronounced it that way in my head.

All you Latin heads can't have it all though considering all the Greek splashed into scientific binomials.



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Old 12th May 2009   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

I blame a Catholic upbringing (Latin Mass) and a maternal grandfather with a phD in English yet obsessed with the Odysseus.

Trust me, it really is useless to be the only kid in class that had to learn some Latin and some Greek. While I have forgotten more than I learned, I like to think I am pronouncing things correctly in my head. On the other hand, reading previous posts, I feel like less of a snob saying mack-u-LOT-um and oh-pOck-em...



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Old 12th May 2009   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Whilst we're on the topic of pronunciation it would be a good to clear up something that's always been my bugbear.

How the heck does one pronounce "Desmognathus" correctly?

I've always said it as it reads; des-mog-na-thus but something tells me I should split the desmo from the gnathus resulting in a desmo-nawthus (as in gnaw on a bone). desmo = ligament gnathus = jaw.

I got a blank look from Pin-pin when I said des-mog-na-thus.... and I'm sure she's not the only one. Now I just avoid the conversation topic altogether.



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Old 12th May 2009   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Mark- the first way is correct.

In answer to Abrahm, Greek components are used in scientific names but the endings (and the components) are Latin-ised.

Anyhow, all of this got me in the mood to record myself. So here you go.
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 scientific_names_1.mp3 (625.8 KB, 64 views)



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Old 12th May 2009   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

I just heard it and i must say you pronounce Ambystoma maculatum/opacum pretty much the way i do.
However, in the case of Eurycea lucifuga you put the "accent" in different places than i do.

I never studied latin or greek, though i have limited knowledge about etymology, so i pretty much base my pronounciation on the spanish way...because you know...itīs a romance language, itīs bound to be at least similar. I guess i make mistakes too since latin pronounciation is not exactly the same as spanish...

I noticed you pronounced Taricha with the spanish sound "ch", i had never heard it like that. Are you sure itīs not like in "tarika"?



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Old 12th May 2009   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Oh my gosh! This thread is so true. When I met Michael at a reptile show I was afraid to tell him what type of newts I ahd because I didn't know if I could pronounce Taricha granulosa right. So, I just said T. grans. Later, I heard him pronounce it Tarika with the "i" making the ee sound.



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Old 12th May 2009   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

I prefer scientific names, as sometimes the common names sound just plain weird to me. It's also easier for me to just memorize the Latin names. I've also noticed differences in pronunciation, yet I'm very happy to see that I have been pronouncing maculatum and opacum correctly! I guess I should thank my Spanish teacher.



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Old 13th May 2009   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

To answer your question Rodrigo, actually I now pronounce everything the first way. I had to give it some thought to remember the Tareecha thing. Actually the first person I heard pronounce Taricha as Tareeka was Uwe Gerlach when I met him for the first time at Gersfeld many years ago.



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Old 13th May 2009   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Way back when I learned my drop of latin, I was told "ch" was supposed to be like a "k", as in "Christ". I have no idea if that's correct, but it at least influences how I read Taricha.



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Old 13th May 2009   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Its funny on my freshwater plant websites, dart frog website I always use the scientific name. But when I am on my reefer sites I refer to the animals by common name. Not sure why that is though it seems like fish are very distinct. When discussing coral I use scientific names 50% of the time.



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Old 13th May 2009   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific nomenclature vs. Common Names

Very interesting thread and I really enjoyed hearing your pronunciations John. I must say, except for the Taricha, most of my mental pronunciations match yours.



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