Talk:Binomial nomenclature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Wikipedia CD Selection
WikiProject icon Binomial nomenclature is included in the Wikipedia CD Selection, see Binomial nomenclature at Schools Wikipedia. Please maintain high quality standards; if you are an established editor your last version in the article history may be used so please don't leave the article with unresolved issues, and make an extra effort to include free images, because non-free images cannot be used on the DVDs.

Trinomial nomenclature[edit]

How do such names as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis fit into this nomenclature? -- Zoe

The "third" name is a subspecies name, sometimes "subspecies" is written out before it. (E.g. Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum causes syphilis, while Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue causes yaws). I'm not sure how this could be incorporated into the article without really complicating the notion of "binomial" though! -- Someone else 05:32 Apr 15, 2003 (UTC)
Most of that's covered in the linked trinomial nomenclature article, though, right? :o) — OwenBlacker 15:07, Jun 30, 2004 (UTC)


Is 1980 really the correct date for adoption by bacteriologists? Andy Mabbett 00:24, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I have added a footnote as follows::

The botanical code kept references to bacteria until 1975. A bacteriological code of nomenclature was approved at the 4th International Congress for Microbiology in 1947, but was later discarded. The official "Nomenclatural Starting Date" for the current International Code for bacteria is January 1, 1980.

Some further information:

  • The first edition of the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria and Viruses was published in 1958
  • Names that were not included in the APPROVED LISTS of 1980 lost standing in bacterial nomenclature.
  • The official "Nomenclatural Starting Date" is 1 January 1980: "One work is deemed to have been published on that date." [1]

See also: [2] Peak 06:35, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)

"Puns" used in naming species[edit]

I can see you really like the idea that a scientist might make a pun in naming a species (although probably very rare). It is an idea that has merit for inclusion. However, you should use proper English and place it in a sentence where it makes sense. Also, since putting this in a paragraph is for the purpose of tweaking the interest of the reader, it seems that an example would help. Here is how you had it (and then put it back):

"The names used are usually derived from Latin. Although Latin derivation is not universal (names sometimes come from Ancient Greek, sometimes from local languages, often from the name of the person who first discovered the species and is sometimes playful, such as a pun, the names are always treated grammatically as if they were Latin words)."

Note that the verb is wrong and the sentence is about how some words are not from latin, but are latinized from ancient Greek, local languages, or a person's name. Making a pun does not fit in with that point. You could add it as a new sentence with an example - Marshman 17:22, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I added a second paragraph where the idea of a pun fits in better. If you have an example, that would help - Marshman 18:08, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Scientific Plurals[edit]

(asked it first at talk:Naming conventions (fauna), but moved it)

Hi, I always wondered how plural forms of scientific names are written: Velociraptors or Velociraptors. I always thought Velociraptors being patently wrong (since it's an English plural). Right? Or is the plural simply "sixteen Velociraptor", just like you say: "This sample contains eleven Krithe rutoti". Phlebas 17:59, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Technically, Latin words take Latin plurals (datum / data), however, few people, including scientists, ever learn Latin anymore. Consequently, there is considerable variation in how plurals are formed. Velociraptor used as a common name, would likely best be pluralized as velociraptors rather than (and I confess, I do not speak Latin) Velociraptorae, although the latter might be recognized as a plural by most. I would not think Velociraptors would be correct for anything, as the meaning would be several species (not individuals) within the genus and an English plural of a Latin word—simply a misspelling. Your solution works in the absence of knowledge of Latin and is probably now followed by most scientists. I think (someone help me out here) that the genus would take the plural in proper latin, but that seems not to be done (i.e., no change at the species level). - Marshman 04:44, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
But what is a common name? I'm taking an example from the Jurassic Park III page. Spinosaur surely is, but then I'd say Spinosaurus isn't anymore. The problem is then, with Velociraptor you can't see if it's common or scientific. In Velociraptor's case, I'd go for italics al the time.Phlebas 17:25, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
To italicize an English plural is just bad style, since italicization is reserved for foreign/Latin words and emphasis. In writing, it'd really odd if we go half-half (Velociraptors), but it wouldn't sound strang in speech. I believe the convention is like: "There are eleven individuals/specimens of Velociraptor fallax." --Menchi 05:57, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
What if the number is unknown? 'Billy and Eric are attacked by Pteranodons.' Keeping it singular really sounds awkward and incorrect. So the convention doesn't really hold out...Phlebas 17:25, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Menchi is correct in assuming Velociraptors is an English word, italicised. I was meaning it was incorrect because it was a Latin word made into an English plural. Either way: not done. Although Menchi suggests a good way around the problem, it would be correct to say: "Billy and Eric were attacked by Panthera leo"; that does not sound at all awkward to me—it states the species they were attacked by, leaving the number of individual attackers unstated (=one or more). Using the scientific name instead of a common name (lion or lions) suggests that the whole point of the sentence is the identification of the attacking species, and not anything about numbers or other details of the attack. The sentence "Billy and Eric are attacked by Pantheras" would be interepreted as an attack by more than one species of Panthera since it is the genus that is awkwardly pluralized. This sentence would not be awkward or ambiguous to me: "Billy and Eric watched as several large Panthera leo approached their camp" - Marshman 17:43, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Thank you. That cleared some things up. And it shows the necessity of using the (anglicised) common names instead of scientific ones (else you are referring to the genus). That is something I have trouble with. I was on an italicising spree the last days. What is your opinion on italicising every occurence of a singular name (i.e. is every scientific name part of the English dictionary)? Phlebas 19:25, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
No necessity, just differences in form. You may feel that "Billy and Eric watched as several large Panthera leo approached their camp" is awkward, but it really is not; it looks perfectly normal to me because I use species names in writing on a daily basis. You expect English to be worded a certain way; putting in latinized terms changes that. Also, you need to be clear about the difference between a genus name and a species name (both would be italicised, however). You are refering to the genus only if you use just the genus name, as in many of your examples above. I avoided that by using a species name (Panthera leo, for example). Not sure what your question is about "part of the English dictionary" ? Scientific names are latinized for the very reasons that 1) no country can claim Latin as its own and 2) therefore it is essentially an international language and all countries use the latin scientific name; anglicizing is not a consideration. - Marshman 04:57, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)
>You may feel that 'Billy and Eric watched as several large Panthera leo approached their camp' is awkward...
I really don't feel that's awkward . Neither does 'Billy and Eric were attacked by Panthera leo'. What does feel awkward is 'Billy and Eric are attacked by Smilodon.'
Again, becauase you are just using a genus name, the sentence really does not make sense. To be attacked by "Smilodon" is to be atacked by what?...all the species of Similodon? Smilodon is not an entity in the sense of a single animal, it is just a genus name; essentially a catagory.
It isn't clearly stated whether there is one or more than one. In this case I want to refer to a specific species in the Smilodon genus (ie. not specified which species it is (bad science-fiction)). And in this book they are attacked by several smilodons. That's what I mean with necessity, since Smilodons refers to (as you say) more than one member of the genus, so smilodons should best be used.
Stated that way is somewhat like saying "He was run over by objects of transportation" when what was intended was a car or train or something. Do not use Smilidon, but use smilidon instead.
>Velociraptor used as a common name, would likely best be pluralized as velociraptors...This is what I meant with 'part of the English dictionary' - Phlebas 23:04, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I'd agree. If you use a common name, you can us an English plural - Marshman 04:22, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Fixed Vandalism[edit]

Just a heads up for everyone, I did a minor edit to the page to remove an obvious bit of vandalism ("Ms. Stanley loved Godzilla" was written next to a note about the T-Rex), as well as a bit of vandalism on the talk page ("Max was Here"). 14:46, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, so did I. I removed "poop" and 'i liky poop" from two parts of the page.

Me too, Ashton Carter, various other crap.

Comment found on page[edit]

The following comment by was found in the history section of the article: "did charles darwin's theory of evolution change this system's usage at all?" All questions like this belong on an article's talk page. I reverted the article back to the previous edit. --Cory Kohn 16:13, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Confusing Page?[edit]

It may be me, but at first glance this page is quite confusing. It should have a short description of binomial nomenclature at the top, along with its inventor (Linneaus), followed by the table of contents, etc. I think the rules of the naming should go in its own section, further down the page. Dachshund2k3 22:40, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

A line removed by a User:Brya sock that may be reinserted--let editors decide.[edit]

This line was removed by a User:Brya sock puppet. It may or may not belong in the article:

"Note that this is a modern convention: Carl Linnaeus always capitalized the specific descriptor, and up to the early 20th century it was common to capitalize the specific descriptor if it was based on a proper name. Although not correct according to modern practices, a capitalized specific descriptor is sometimes still used in non-scientific literature based on older sources."

KP Botany 03:11, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Just took a quick look at a few pages of L.'s Species Plantarum; he often used caps but not always, quite a few are lower case (seemingly randomly, including some from proper names) - MPF 23:10, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
In fact, he capitalized all sorts of other things too, as a Swedish user of Latin in the 18th century he may have been influenced to capitalize all nouns. Latin was not very fixed in the use of capital letters in the 18th centsup fat headury among Europeans, and neither was Botanical Latin. Brya's too often inaccurate, so I appreciate your taking the time to check this--it should remain out of the article. In general most of her assertions need checked or fact tagged or deleted. KP Botany 23:44, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Additional merges[edit]

Binary name and Binomen should also be merged & redirected here. MrDarwin 17:00, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Linking the levels of the hierarchy, redundant, but let's leave it, please.[edit]

I like the last addition by an anon IP, to link the various levels of the hierarchy where they are mentioned in a list in order. Please don't revert this. Thanks. KP Botany 18:26, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Binomials different for botany. Really?[edit]

"in botany, on the other hand, the specific epithet is written usually all in lower case but can, extremely rarely, be written with an initial capital. For example, Narcissus papyraceus" Funny, I don't see that this is the case. I have never come across this before. If anyone can cite a reference, please do so, otherwise it should be removed. This sort of affirmation only perpetuates ignorance about Latin binomials amongst gardeners and the owners of garden centres and, tragically, some publishers of national newspapers and periodicals who continue to doggedly use uppercase specific names, especially where a proper noun is involved: eg. Buddleia Davidii, Berberis Darwinii - Togidubnus 20:51, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

That is the way it was done in the past, new rules were adopted a few years back, so many commonly used books that are used as references by gardeners and others have species listed with caps.

lets see, here are some names that I come across when i glance threw a much used refrence text from the early 1900's Astragalus Drummondii, Astrogalus Robbinsii, Astragalus Hypoglottis, Biscuullaria Cucullaria ect I would say that about one out of five names has caps for the species name. It was done this way in the 1950's too since my major field reference for plants for Eastern North America by Gleason also has caps. Hardyplants 23:44, 10 August 2007 (UTC) Curiously, this is still an issue (in 2016). An encyclopedia should describe the way the world is, not the way an encyclopedist (quite reasonably) wishes it were; it should also cover subjects from a reasonably broad perspective (i.e. it should not view the world purely from the point of view of a single profession). It is 100% clear that in science-writing, species names are not capitalized. On the other hand, every hair-product container in an average bathroom will use binomial names derived from proper scientific nomenclature, but with the species capitalized. Who are we scientists to say this is "wrong"? It is a convention that industrial manufacturers have adopted, in a legally-binding and important context (there are rules about listing ingredients!). The words "extremely rarely" grate a bit, because if something is found that way in everyone's bathroom, it's hardly rare. It's just difficult to cite a billion bathrooms. I'm not sure whether to edit this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:05, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Uncaught vandalism[edit]

I reverted back to an edit by User:Kingdon, as there is a lot of uncaught vandalism. I don't have time to edit it. KP Botany 02:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

The second bullet point under "Rules" begins with the phrase "Species names are usually sucks ick;". I didn't edit it as I wasn't sure exactly what it should say! Can someone else edit this please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Roger B. (talkcontribs) 09:05, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Botanical capitals[edit]

I have very little knowledge of this subject, but surely this example of a capitalised species is not right, in that it is not capitalised? Could anyone with the knowledge supply a correctly capitalised specific epithet?

"* In botany, on the other hand, the specific epithet is written usually all in lower case but can, extremely rarely, be written with an initial capital.
For example, Narcissus papyraceus "

Many thanks Millichip (talk) 10:25, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing this out (and also see the discussion further up the page under "Binomials different for botany. Really?"). Upon doing a bit of searching on google books, the first reference was for zoology, and as far as I can figure out, this is a matter of old versus new, not botany versus zoology. I've rewritten the text with some cites, which perhaps is not the last word, but it feels so much better to have references there. As for an example, since it is only an older usage, I left out the example. But if people think words like "specific name" (or specific epithet) are too abstract and should be clarified with an example, that's OK with me too. Kingdon (talk) 14:36, 12 May 2008 (UTC)


I've moved the following here from the page itself:

All this has (almost) no meaning if you don't link to the RULES (and there are).
- Nothing more. Don't invent them!!!
-Give a link.... to by ex. ICBN (for botanical rules...)

I'm not sure exactly what this comment is trying to say, but this article does link to ICBN. If anyone has specific suggestions of what wording would be more clear, by all means propose it (on this talk page, if you want to get reactions before putting them in the article itself). Kingdon (talk) 03:46, 30 August 2008 (UTC).

In depth?[edit]

I moved the following statement from the article to here: "However, Binomial Nomenclature is commonly used to describe and identify organisms in a more "in-depth" manner. ". I'm not sure what "in depth" means, and there is no citation given which would make it easier to figure out what is meant. Kingdon (talk) 11:52, 3 November 2008 (UTC)


From Dagger (typography): "In biology, the dagger next to a taxon name indicates that taxon is extinct." Should this also be mentioned in rules here? –Moondyne 03:03, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not moved ≈ Chamal talk ¤ 13:43, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Binomial nomenclatureBinominal nomenclature — Relisted. ≈ Chamal talk ¤ 12:02, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

As one user said, a Binomial is a piece of math, binominal is the taxanomic naming system. This article should be named Binominal nomenclature. Galmicmi (talk) 20:38, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I see that an enthusiastic editor has also changed all the uses.
Cited source #5 says "Most botanists are not only aware that plant species are specified by latinised binomial scientific names..." Most books in both botany and zoology such as this one and this one use binomial. The International Association for Plant Taxonomy, who are the botanical authorities, use binomial. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, who are the zoological authorities, use binominal.
I suggest we do NOT move the article, and reword to indicate that binomial is the most common form, but binominal is technically correct in zoology. -- Radagast3 (talk) 12:59, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I have done this. -- Radagast3 (talk) 12:31, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
  • There are some deeper problems here: the binomen article suggests that there should be a "binominal nomenclature" article that applies only to animals. However, the current article discusses both animals and plants, which I think is reasonable -- I don't think the differences are big enough to fork the article. However, this article is so fundamental to WP:WikiProject Plants and WP:WikiProject Animals that a final decision should only be made with very broad consensus. -- Radagast3 (talk) 13:24, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Just to clarify that: all our templates at WP:TX, both for animals and plants, use binomial (with a link to here), so that the proposed move would break a lot of things. -- Radagast3 (talk) 11:59, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
      • Templates can be fixed; if the article is moved this would still redirect to the new name anyway. I'm resisting the move discussion so that some more views can be obtained, and I'll leave a note at leaving a note at WT:WikiProject Plants and WT:WikiProject Animals. ≈ Chamal talk ¤ 12:02, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
        • Templates can be changed, but I'm not all that sure it's a good idea to do so – it would cause a great deal of confusion. And we should not move this article anyway, because (1) it's the correct name for botanists, and (2) it's still widely used in zoology as well (even if perhaps incorrectly). If the concerned zoologists really feel that the existing explanation of the terminology is insufficient, then we need to create a POV-fork of this article which is identical except for the different spelling. Personally I don't think that's a good idea either: it's better to just explain things properly here, which I think we do. So as far as I'm concerned, no further action is required. -- Radagast3 (talk) 12:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
          • I started out in zoology, and only heard "binomial" in coversation. It's also I believe the commonest term in general biology textbooks.--Curtis Clark (talk) 14:37, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Regardless of grammatical correctness, the current term is now permanently established in both the public and the scientific community. I've *never* heard anyone use "binominal", even at a scientific conference that was dedicated as a 400-year celebration of Linnaeus. As such, there's no value in changing it, and it comes pretty close to WP:OR to do so. Mokele (talk) 12:36, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

These other projects also use taxobox templates using the term "binomial" and linking to this page, I believe, so they might have opinions one way or the other as well:

-- Radagast3 (talk) 12:49, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

For what it's worth, in Describing Species Judith Winston uses "binomial", and she's a zoologist (her area of expertise is bryozoans). Circéus (talk) 15:31, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

  • No reason to move. The term is correct as it is. From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition:
adj.  Consisting of or relating to two names or terms.
n.  1. Mathematics. A polynomial with two terms. 2. Biology. A taxonomic name in binomial nomenclature.
[From New Latin binōmius, having two names : bi-1 + French nom, name (from Latin nōmen; see nominal).]
binomial nomenclature
n.  The scientific naming of species whereby each species receives a Latin or Latinized name of two parts,
the first indicating the genus and the second being the specific epithet. For example, Juglans regia is
the English walnut; Juglans nigra, the black walnut.

Note: The AHD has no entry for "binominal". Eric talk 17:48, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Binomial seems to be the most common usage, even for animals. Hence, I do not think any move should be made. Rlendog (talk) 18:47, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Per Rlendog - I have never heard it described as "binominal", only ever "binomial" - hence I think the page is better off where it is. Current usage of scientific names is littered with misapplications, mistranslations and grammatical errors. Occasionally they are rectified. Our job is to reflect usage not correct it as such, though. Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:19, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • The OED lists both; their quotations for binomial are more recent and more numerous. Binomial is irregular; but, like homicide, it is irregular within Latin; English may use either, and does use binomial both in biology and mathematics. Oppose. We are not here to reformthe English language. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:36, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • "Binomial" is the only usage I'm familiar with, and after looking through the comments here I feel pretty comfortable opposing the move. Guettarda (talk) 19:18, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose move Simply because something is grammatically or technically correct should not mean it takes precedent over what is widely and commonly used within the relevant profession. Our naming conventions state that "[c]ommon usage in reliable sources is preferred to technically correct but rarer forms, whether the official name, the scientific name..." Otherwise Human would be named Homo sapiens, Grey Wolf would be named Canis lupus and Voltaire (not related to species) would be named François-Marie Arouet. Though technically correct, "binominal" is very rarely used, whereas "binomial" is in much wider use. So the real question is, do we want the article to be understandable to the few zoologists and taxonomists who are familiar with the "binominal" alternate name but also with the more common "binomial" name, and confusing to those less familiar with the "binominal" form, or to (almost) everyone from those zoologists to the student in secondary school who decides to look up an unfamiliar term in our encyclopaedia. Intelligentsium 21:06, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose move I too have never seen it other than binomial. Cheers, Wassupwestcoast (talk) 23:03, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Common name capitalization...[edit]

Though their convention seems strange, WP:BIRD would take issue with "house sparrow", I believe, saying "House Sparrows". (and now that I've delivered this blessing from Eris, I should hasten to depart ;) Wnt (talk) 18:59, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Forms for specific descriptors[edit]

I've changed "The species name or specific descriptor is also a Latin word, but it can be one of various grammatical forms:" to add "including the following" because the botanical code allows several words (hyphenated), and also article 23.2 allows the epithet to be "composed arbitrarily". Nadiatalent (talk) 18:11, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Cultivar / variety[edit]

It would be helpful if this article included the conventions for cultivars, natural and horticultural varieties, and subspecies. Or at least link to where those are addressed. --19:33, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Looks like the best treatment is at Botanical name, though there is some info at Ternary name, and some at cultivar. --Jake (talk) 19:38, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

About "Rules"[edit]

A comment which was originally left on the article page itself, and then was moved onto the talk page in August 2008 said: "All this has (almost) no meaning if you don't link to the RULES (and there are). - Nothing more. Don't invent them!!! -Give a link.... to by ex. ICBN (for botanical rules...).

I imagine this person was suggesting that every one of the conventions/rules we mention in the article needs an inline citation to the correct section of the ICZN or ICBN rule books. This is not at all an unreasonable request, although it would mean a fair bit of work on the part of an editor or editors who have access to both publications. It would greatly improve the article. Invertzoo (talk) 16:28, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Two points.
  • I find the structure of the article confusing, as was pointed out at #Confusing Page? in 2007. The plethora of bullet points, especially in Binomial_nomenclature#Rules, is hardly in accordance with WP:EMBED.
  • I agree that if the content is maintained as it is now, there needs to be much more referencing to the articles of the ICBN or ICZN.
Part of the problem is caused by trying to cover the detail of binomial nomenclature under the different codes, leading to the need for continual qualifications. An alternative is that this article should describe the principles of binomial nomenclature, leaving the details of the different codes for separate articles (most of which already exist anyway). Peter coxhead (talk) 10:52, 12 June 2011 (UTC)


I am in the process of re-writing this article, with several aims:

  • To improve its clarity
  • To improve its adherence to an encyclopaedic style (i.e. not full of loosely connected bullet points)
  • To make it a general introduction, as far as possible independent of different Codes – there is a separate article for Specific name (zoology) and there will eventually be one for Specific name (botany)
  • To keep its focus on binomial nomenclature (interpreted here as "naming species") and not stray into the names of families, taxa below species, etc.

I expect that some material will be completely removed from the article. Any and all assistance is welcome, but if you don't agree with my aims, please say so now! Peter coxhead (talk) 03:11, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

I was thinking about most of this yesterday, you have my support. I don't know if this is the right article for it, but some mention should be made on the naming conventions, e.g how the names terminate differently according to whether the species was named after a man or a woman or how people cannot name genera or species after themselves, etc. The mayor of Yurp (talk) 11:16, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
As far as I know, it's not forbidden to name genera or species after oneself; it's just "not done". Peter coxhead (talk) 13:12, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Relationship to taxonomy, classification, etc.[edit]

There does need to be some discussion in the article about the relationship between nomenclature, taxonomy, identification and classification. However, I don't think that it belongs in "History" which is where this bit was added:

The science of describing and naming new species is called Alpha taxonomy. Richard Fortey (2008). Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum. London: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0007209894. 

I like the carefully referenced definitions at Scientific_nomenclature#Nomenclature.2C_classification_and_identification. What I think is needed in the article is a brief section based on this material; a little expanded/simplified. I've been thinking about it and will add it soon if no-one else does.

I'm also not sure that "alpha" taxonomy has really caught on as a term. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:30, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Hieronymus Harder[edit]

Hello Paul! I've been following your edits at Binomial nomenclature. I'm hoping you are adding inline sources to support your individual points, so they can stay in the article. I was waiting until you finish your Hieronymus Harder article to make any changes (soon?), but in the Binomial article the Hieronymus info belongs in the history section (if it is sourced) instead of the lead. I'm very curious what your sources say about 1) whether he always used a binomial or only partially, and 2) how much, if any, he talked about a system of binomial nomenclature as proposed for use by everyone. Thanks for the info! --Tom Hulse (talk) 10:25, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Hi Tom, No, I don't have any sources in which Harder made notes specifically about Binomial nomenclature, but only index pages from his Herbarium vivum which clearly display his use of the idea. From the image I posted at Binomial nomenclature it should be apparent that he didn't always stick to a binomial style. "The introduction of this system of naming species is credited to Linnaeus" in the lead should certainly be balanced by a reference to earlier use of the idea by Harder and the Bauhins and others, lest a reader get the notion that Linnaeus got the idea straight from heaven rather than the tweaking of an idea that goes back much further in time! Go well Paul venter (talk) 13:53, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I sure do understand wanting to get the word out more about this great guy. His work is amazing, and I'm really enjoying the info you are adding at the other two articles, but the trouble here is that Wikipedia is about what the sources say, not about what may be true. Even if there were sources, we would still have to be careful not to give him credit for more than should apply. For instance, he did not publish a description of how to use a system of binomial nomenclature, nor is he even using a system of binomial nomenclature in his herbarium vivum, just a mix of different-sized names (although many are inividually binomials). We don't have any evidence that Linnaeus was influenced by him (we do have evidence that L. was influence by the Bauhins), nor that anyone was. Using a mixed system including binomials was not new or unique at his time, certainly less notable than the Bauhins who themselves only merit a minor mention in the History section. So I'm sorry I'll have to drastically reduce your addition to just a part of a sentence in the History section, and remove the image. They're just not that relevant to the article, I hope you understand. Best regards. --Tom Hulse (talk) 08:49, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Paul I removed the unsourced material per WP:NOR & WP:RS. In the History section, the article currently says "The Bauhins... took some important steps towards the binomial system", and I would really like add info here about Hieronymus Harder, but I can't without a reliable source, so please let me know if you find anything. --Tom Hulse (talk) 09:07, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

I've been extremely careful about my additions and did not make any unwarranted assumptions about Harder's contribution to binomial nomenclature - I simply posted the image which clearly shows that Harder made use of the binomial idea. His early use of binomialism is extremely relevant to the article, so that I am reverting the edit and hope that a wider group of editors may become involved in the discussion before deciding that Harder is really irrelevant. cheers Paul venter (talk) 09:16, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Paul, "unwarranted" or warranted is irrelevant. True or untrue is irrelevant. Is it sourced or not? Simple as pie. It has to go. Second, this article is not about "the binomial idea", but about binomial nomenclature, specifically a system of binomial nomenclature. If this article actually were about merely who used a mixed system of uninomials, binomials, and polynomials (like Harder), then a pic of the Bauhin's text (easily available on Google Books) would be more relevant, since there are actually sources that say that they may have been a precursor to Linnaeus' system. I referenced WP:NOR and WP:RS as reasons for the edit. You really need to actually read them. They say truth is irrelevent here: no sources, no Hieronymus. Do not revert without adding sources that explain what Hieronymus Harder had to do with binomial nomenclature. --Tom Hulse (talk) 10:03, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

I think you're being a bit narrow here - a complete article should deal with the lead-up to Linnaeus, who obviously was influenced by earlier workers, and which is also why a history section is included in the article. One cannot simply ignore Harder and the evidence of his Herbarium vivum. Paul venter (talk) 12:15, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Tom, perhaps I'm being obtuse here, but the source of the image is to be found by simply clicking on the image. However, if you find the image unacceptable because it's perceived as being without source, then I shall add the source. I really hope this matter can be resolved without rancour and the last thing I want is an edit war. Paul venter (talk) 11:46, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Paul: unfortunately the source of the image isn't a source for the statement "The emergence of the idea can already be seen in Hieronymus Harder's Herbarium vivum of c1600." This is your statement, not a statement supported by a source. You will doubtless argue that a reader can see from the image that Harder is using two-part names, but to say that this is the emergence of the idea of binomial nomenclature is WP:OR. The lead of WP:OR says clearly that OR includes "any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not advanced by the sources". Analysing the text of the image from Herbarium vivum to argue that Harder contributed to binomial nomenclature is OR by Wikipedia's definition, and so is not allowed. So, regretfully, I have to support Tom and revert your addition. If you think this is "narrow", I sympathize, but it's the policy. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:50, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
A bit more: early on when I started editing on Wikipedia, I wanted to describe the shape of the leaves of some plant and couldn't find a statement about it in a source, so I "referenced" the shape to an image in the article. I was surprised to be told that this was not allowed; describing an image yourself as an editor is WP:OR. (I've tried to find the article and the exchange on its talk page, but at present I can't.) Wikipedia is very strict on OR; it's irksome but on reflection you can see the logic of it. For example, an editor might upload an image of an abnormal specimen of a plant, and then make claims based on that image. In this case you need to find a reliable source that says that Harder was a pioneer in binomial nomenclature (or publish this yourself in a reliable source); then you can say so with a reference and add the image. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:02, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Trusting the evidence of one's own eyes and seeing that Harder's index made use of a two-name system, is stretching the concept of original research to way beyond breaking point. In this case it is not the OR policy which is "narrow" but rather the interpretation of that policy. Far too often editors wield the "so sorry, but it's policy" stick to give unmerited weight to extremely wobbly opinions. My feeling is that this is one of those occasions. Paul venter (talk) 11:38, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
You can certainly say, and it can be easily sourced, that Linnaeus wasn't the first to use two-part names. What Tom and I have argued is that you can't say using Harder as a primary source is that he was a pioneer in binomial nomenclature. Linnaeus' idea was to provide a trivial name (epithet) for every species, initially in addition to a fuller polynomial and later instead of it. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:50, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Also, if we were using the see-it-with-your-own-eyes method instead of reliable sources, then the picture you linked as evidence is actually proof that HH did not use a binomial system of nomenclature; it shows a mix of one, two, and three-part names. His using "some" two-part names is not noteworthy in this case, as many did it before him. Only the system of binomial nomenclature is relevant here, and he did not use it. --Tom Hulse (talk) 20:47, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

Merge of Binomen to here[edit]

  • Support Merger seems a good idea to me. Sometimes it is easier to write an article exclusively about one or other of the main codes of nomenclature, but this article seems ok covering both. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:01, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per above.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 16:54, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Support Makes more sense here. Also does not need a new section here; it can be just interspersed into the article I would think. --Tom Hulse (talk) 17:06, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Peter coxhead (talk) 09:29, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

The only information I could see which was in the old Binomen article but which was not here were a couple of bits about the terms "binomen" and "trinomen". I've edited these in. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:38, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

User:Tottingshire's edits[edit]

In reply to the assertion by the above editor that rendering the binomen in a different type-face is not a requirement, please see Appendix B-6:

6. The scientific names of genus- or species-group taxa should be printed in a type-face (font) different from that used in the text; such names are usually printed in italics, which should not be used for names of higher taxa. Species¬group names always begin with a lower-case letter, and when cited should always be preceded by a generic name (or an abbreviation of one); names of all supraspecific taxa begin with an upper-case (capital) letter.

Note how it does not say anything about this being optional or subject to the discretion of the author. The printing of the binomen in a different type-face than the surrounding text (usually italics, but can also be underlining, bolding, different fonts, etc.) is part of the "General Recommendations" section of the code, but that does not mean they are optional. It's not a "must" but it's a "should" (i.e. it's not exactly regulated, but it's expected). Including examples of binomina incorrectly written is misleadingly giving the impression that it's perfectly acceptable. Notice that the stipulation for the species-group name to always be preceded by a generic name is also in Appendix B-6.

Your other changes to the article ("Both are formal names in their own right, and both have an author. Together these two names constitute the name of the species.") also gives the impression that the species-group names can be written alone, and I have thus reverted it as well. The rest of your edits ("Actually, a binomen does not have an author") have an inappropriate tone. This is a Wikipedia article, discussions should be in the talk page. And please do not change the rationale of a merge tag placed by another editor.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 17:32, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Obsidian, which code are you referring to? The Vienna Code has Appendices that use Roman numerals instead of letters, and I didn't think the latest Melbourne Code was published yet, is it? Anyway, from the Preface of the Vienna Code:
"As in the previous edition, scientific names under the jurisdiction of the Code, irrespective of rank, are consistently printed in italic type. The Code sets no binding standard in this respect, as typography is a matter of editorial style and tradition not of nomenclature. Nevertheless, editors and authors, in the interest of international uniformity, may wish to consider adhering to the practice exemplified by the Code, which has been well received in general and is followed in a number of botanical and mycological journals."
--Tom Hulse (talk) 22:12, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Actually the edits in question were at Binomen, not here, so they applied only to the zoological code. As of right now, there's a muddle: "Talk:Binomen" redirects here, but the separate article "Binomen" still exists. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:17, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm now completing the 'merge' by re-directing the article Binomen to here. I'll check whether there's actually any material in the old Binomen article which is different and needs adding here. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:29, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done See #Merge of Binomen to here. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:40, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yeah sorry for that, I was referring to the ICZN. I did the redirect of the talk page of Binomen (previously nonexistent) in anticipation of the merge.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 10:56, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
That makes more sense! :) Since you were in the ICZN then, the relevant text is on the title page to the Appendices; it is clear:
"These Appendices are provided as a guide to good usage in nomenclature. Unlike the Preamble, Articles 1-90 and the Glossary, which are integral parts of the Code, these Appendices have the status of recommendations; zoologists are urged to follow them, in addition to the recommendations which are appended to relevant Articles of the Code".
This also must be taken together with the section I quoted above from the ICN Preface, since this article is about both codes. Perhaps we need to look at adding back some of Tottingshire's edits. --Tom Hulse (talk) 12:10, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I disagree. As mentioned earlier and as is clear from the wording of the appendices, merely because it is not enforced does not mean it should not be written that way. There is a subtle but important difference between "recommended" and the "not required" in Tottingshire's additions.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 12:43, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree there is difference between "recommended" and "not required", but dont' forget that you are the one who incorrectly said that "it is a requirement", as your justification for reverting Tottingshire's edits. Also, it is a straw man when you say "...does not mean it should not be written that way", since that is a ridiculous misrepresentation of what we have said (we haven't even implied that). It is also misleading to say "merely because it is not enforced", since there is nothing to enforce. That word implies a law or rule, which there is specifically not. The ICN is just as relevant here as the ICZN, when it says regarding italics that "typography is a matter of editorial style and tradition not of nomenclature", and this is not at all conflicted by the ICZN which says your recommendations are not "integral parts of the Code".
So then,  :) what should the article say? This article isn't as bad as the original Binomen article to which this discussion started, but still the lead section is misleading where it says simply "Both parts are italicized". Perhaps it could read: "It is recommended, though not required, that both parts are italicized." Or "By tradition, both parts are usually italicized." I went ahead and made some changes, but feel free to reword them, as long the article still clarifies to the reader that these are not part of the "rules" that could be enforced. --Tom Hulse (talk) 20:15, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I clarified it in the Binomen article: "Both the generic and specific names are written or rendered in a type-face different from that used in the surrounding text (usually in italics)". You are relegating it to the status of mere tradition when it is a recommendation. Do we also state now that species names can be written alone because writing it in the context of its genus is merely "traditional"? Or that specific and subspecific names can be capitalized? For all intents and purposes, it is a requirement, in the sense that names not written as recommended would be universally considered wrong. I get the feeling you're arguing for the sake of arguing. And I'm seriously too fucking tired for any of that right now. -- OBSIDIANSOUL 04:45, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
"Arguing for the sake of arguing" is often a hypocritical argument; perhaps it's time for a look in the mirror. Instead of manufactured drama and F-bombs, why not just stick to the facts?
I proposed the word tradition but was also clear I'm not married to it; I only am firm that these are recommendations, not rules or requirements. The Code, or correct binomial nomenclature, is about publication, establishment, and priority of names; so to illustrate the difference here is a true-or-false questions: If a name is published correctly in every other respect except that it lacks italics and typical capitalisation, is it "valid"? Is it "established"? Does it have "priority" Must all other authors treat it treat it as a valid name? Yes! There is no provision in the code for 'practically a rule'.
A new editor here had some reasonable concerns about a misleading section. It could have been reworked a bit, but you instead blanket-reverted him with a dead-on-wrong "It is a requirement". Man up and admit it instead of trying to write a new set of rules. --Tom Hulse (talk) 07:13, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
These are not rules, didn't I just say that in my very first post? These are conventions, and something that everyone should follow, which imo makes it a requirement though not something enforced or handled by the codes. This article is about binomial nomenclature, not the ICZN nor the ICN. The topic also covers conventions and typography rather than solely the codified rules of publishing which are covered in the articles on the codes. My original post above makes this very clear despite my earlier admittedly terser edit summary of "It is a requirement", but that's what talk pages are for isn't it?
What next? Are you going to give examples of Canis Familiaris, canis familiaris, and familiaris as examples and then say that while these are not usually written that way, but they are acceptable because it's "not a requirement"? Will articles with incorrectly rendered scientific names now be able to resist corrections because "it is not a requirement"? Listen to yourself.
Not to mention you conflating the two codes. Your edit of "traditionally in italics" only propagates another misconception. It's usually in italics, yes, but anything that distinguishes it from the surrounding type-face is more than enough in zoology. Have you thought about what it looks like to a layman? These half-trivias being added does not serve anyone unless you're willing to explain all the intricate details of how and why these conventions came to be. I'm not even sure they should be mentioned in the article at all, as that in itself would give undue weight to styles overwhelmingly considered to be incorrect.
If you want to make it clear that it's not part of the codes proper, by all means go ahead. But explain it in full detail. Don't repeat Tottingshire's mistake of making it seem like everyone would be justified if they print it in normal text, mention a specific name in isolation, or capitalize everything (which as I pointed out are also part of the "recommendations" but are regarded as unwritten rules anyhow).
If you think any part of Tottingshire's edits were correct or justified, ask yourself why? And do you really think that the fact that the codes do not control that aspect of nomenclature makes it "not a requirement"? Since I also don't think Tottingshire's edits can be reworked, are you perhaps volunteering?
And really, what do you hope to accomplish by turning this into an argument? You may have said no F-bombs, but the tone of your reply above is unequivocally hostile, accusatory, and more than a little condescending despite the smileys. As if you were dead set on finding something wrong with it from the get-go. At least that's the impression I got, and your subsequent replies only confirms it. I have no idea where or how I've crossed you in the past but I'm really in no mood for word or power games right now. I don't need a mirror thank you, my contributions speak for themselves.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 08:50, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
(Revised due to edit conflict) Ok, let me try to find some common ground here. It's clear that using italics is not a "mandatory requirement" of either code. On the other hand, to say merely "By tradition, both parts are usually italicized" is too weak to describe the actual situation. I'm not aware of any reliable biological source which doesn't italicize (or the equivalent inversion in running italics). Not italicizing may not strictly speaking be "legally wrong" according to either code but it would show the writer's ignorance of the conventions of scientific nomenclature which are universally adopted in reliable sources.
Tottingshire's edits as a whole were misleading. All the articles about biological nomenclature have proven to be very difficult to write, because of subtle differences between the codes, because there is disagreement among professional zoologists as to the meaning of the ICZN in relation to synonyms, because a lot of actual practice is based on copying existing practice rather than following written guides and so is difficult to source, because quite often those limited sources which do exist are not consistent, and (not least) because explaining legislation painstakingly built up over years of revisions in a Wikipedia article is an almost impossible task. All this means that edits by well-meaning but new editors who look only at individual paragraphs and not the article as a whole are usually not helpful. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:01, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for that much clearer explanation. I'm a bit stressed in real life right now and my temper's spilling over, perhaps I should excuse myself from the discussion for the moment. <sighs>-- OBSIDIANSOUL 09:12, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Obsidian, I'm sorry for your real-life troubles, I honestly hope they get worked out for you.
Your contention that this article is not about the ICN or ICZN is a reasonable one, and perhaps at the heart of the issue. Our article title is Binomial nomenclature. The codes are about nothing else than completely defining the proper use of binomial nomenclature. An alternate article title here might be "Use of the ICN & ICZN and history before them". These codes are the complete definition of our article subject(excluding history).
Peter, when you say "I'm not aware of any reliable biological source which doesn't italicize", I agree, and I also think they "should" italicize as Obisidian says, but those names are still "correct" whether italicized or not. When Obsidian calls them "considered to be incorrect", he is going too far, putting his own extra spin on. They may be not recommended, disfavored, not common usage, etc., but "incorrect" is too far. Remember our article title is about nomenclature. Those who define nomenclature say that typography (italics & capitalization) is not a matter of nomenclature (ICN Preface quoted above); in other words not a matter of our article subject. I'm not saying that we should exclude all info about italics in our article, only that you should recognize that the article title IS fully defined/controlled by the ICN/ICZN and it is not about the artificial "common usage" frame of reference where you could say that italics are required by convention. In other words, italics ARE required by typography convention, but our article is not about typography convention or about typography; it is about nomenclature, where italics are very specifically not required by clear language in the codes that control it. So our current article is a little misleading.
Obsidian when you talked about the "mistake of making it seem like everyone would be justified if they print it in normal text, mention a specific name in isolation, or capitalize everything", unfortunately they would be justified according to correct binomial nomenclature, which is what our article is about. I like your point about 'what does it look like to a layman'? Right now in the lead of the article it talks about how the codes govern nomenclature, and then goes immediately into a discussion of typography. To a layman that would seem that the codes require these details (they don't), and it would seem to a layman that it would be improper nomenclature to not use italics (it isn't). Perhaps the typography info is not appropriate for the intro at all (remember that the Code says typography is not part of nomenclature, our article title). Might it be better as a "Typography" subsection inside "Writing binomial names", where we could explain the difference between recommended, required, and common-usage? --Tom Hulse (talk) 20:36, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
To be honest, Tom, I don't recognize the article from your comments above.
  • It seems to me that it's quite clear in the article that italicization, etc. isn't part of the codes. The lead part (after my edit) starts "In modern usage, ..." not "According to the codes, ...". Then the rest of the material is in a subsection headed "Writing binomial names" and starts "By tradition, the binomial names of species are usually typeset in italics ...".
  • I don't agree that "These codes are the complete definition of our article subject (excluding history)." The codes are a post hoc regularization of binomial nomenclature, which preceded them and is independent of them. The majority of biologists happily use binomial nomenclature without ever reading any of the codes. Explaining usage is a key part of the purpose of the article. Thus the codes prescribe how specific names/epithets should be formed, but they don't tell us how biologists actually do it – e.g. that it's "not done" to name a species after oneself, that biologists (particularly botanists) regularly use anagrams when forced to make up a new name by the code, that zoologists in particular are prone to make up joke names, etc.
I think that the article taken as a whole adopts a reasonable balance between the topic and the codes. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:06, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you could see it from my perspective if we first agree on a defininition of nomenclature. It seems to me you are still coming from the perspective, like our current article, that typography is a key part of nomenclature, and should be highlighted right in the opening, with a prominent paragraph right after the codes are first mentioned. Can we first agree, like the Code says, that typography is not a matter of nomenclature? If typography is given it's proper due weight in the article compared to the other real parts of nomenclature, then these other confusions or not-confusions don't matter as much. If we can abandon the preconception that typography is nomenclature then the article is naturally structured a little differently and my concerns would be moot.
When you say that it's "clear in the article that italicization, etc. isn't part of the codes", please consider the perspective of a neutral reader/layman. It could easily be interpreted "In modern usage [under the Codes], the first letter of..." Can you see from a neutral viewpoint that nothing there really contrasts "modern usage" as opposed to 'being part of the codes', unless you already know the answer like we do? This is especially true because of the way the paragraphs are situated (situated with a typography paragraph immediately after the codes are first mentioned), and even more so true because we have used the word "always".
Do you think that if this article were to reach FA status, with complete coverage of the subject, that it might include a subsection "Typography"? --Tom Hulse (talk) 06:47, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Ok, put the lead aside for a moment. It seems to me that there isn't any need for a specific subsection called "Typography" because this is fully covered under "Writing binomial names". So looking at the content of the article, is it reasonably balanced between a discussion of the idea of "two-part names" (which is one sense of "binominal nomenclature") and the current regulation of these names by the various codes? I think the balance is about right, although both should be expanded. E.g. codes other than the ICN and ICZN need a bit more on them; how is the bacterial code different? (Something I know nothing about and would like to be told.) The relationship to classification needs some more, I think.
So, what do you think about the content?
Then the lead should be a summary of the content. So the last two paragraphs of the lead should be there to summarize the section "Writing binomial names". If they are disproportionate or don't summarize the section correctly, then they should of course be changed. I can only say that I think they are about right, but can certainly be tweaked. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:41, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
You asked what I thought of the article content. I find many things that need reworking, but one at time, eh? :) The biggest to me is that reading the article as a whole, it seems the collective author is confused about what the definition of "nomenclature" is because of undue weight given to typography. Have you ever seen where being vague (but true) in one area, then building on that somewhere else in a vague-but-basically-true way can produce a overall false result, similar to the telephone game? If you would only comment on the definition of nomenclature I think this would solve itself. Do you disagree with any of these three I pose as facts?
  • "Typography is not a matter of nomenclature" (ICN).
  • Our article is about nomenclature.
  • Per WP:LEAD, the intro section should be a summary of its most important aspects, not just a generic blanket summary; and it should usually be 2-3 paragraphs for this sized article.
If we only have 2-3 paragraphs to summarize (see the lead in Biological classification, they don't get bogged down with details too early), and one of these will mostly be eaten up with the lead definition, how could we possibly justify including very fine details of something that "is not a matter of" our article title? Surely if we made that mistake it would skew bias in the article to wrongly appear that this is a key/major part of our article title, and that is what has happened.
On the "Typography" section, I concede that the article already covers the individual points, and so doesn't need an additional section, but what would you think of a little reworking? Maybe merging the "Other ranks" section into the Writing section? It carries the same type of content but is awkwardly separated by the "Authority" section. Possibly also then separating the info about abbreviations (within the Writing section) into a separate subsection from the italics-capitals-parentheses? --Tom Hulse (talk) 22:04, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Except that even both the codes follow the typographic conventions, no? If it were that trivial, why is that? As Peter already said, the codes were established after the fact. It is not synonymous with the modern codes as nomenclature existed before the codes were even established. Our articles on ICN, ICZN, etc. exclude these correctly already. But if you can't discuss it here, where else would you discuss it then? The conventions of typography is not part of naming, true, but names are not simply a matter of establishing validity that one time, no? Names aren't used only in the context of the first publication or in disputes. No, names are meant to be written, read, and used again and again even long after they've lost that magical sp. nov. designation. And that usage is still part of this topic.
Even more so since most of the readers coming here aren't concerned with publishing. Biologists will go directly to the codes proper if they wanted that. Readers come here primarily to learn how to read and write binomial nomenclature. This being a general overview of the modern and obsolete codes, the history of nomenclature, formal and informal rules and conventions, and the actual practice of naming and the use of names, etc. it's exactly the place where such things should be covered. -- OBSIDIANSOUL 03:33, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Since you seem to be referencing a personal definition of nomenclature that you always assumed included typography, how does your personal definition compare to the codes, which Peter called a "definitive source" at the bottom of this page? Why is the Code dead wrong and your personal opinion right? It says plainly that "typography is not a matter of nomenclature". C'mon man, that's it. Your long-term assumption was just wrong. Typography is different and separate. Just because the codes use typography doesn't mean that typography is nomenclature (rolleyes).
Who cares really that nomenclature was used before the codes? Right now, on this day today, the codes are internationally accepted by universal agreement to be correct on matters of nomenclature. How can you possibly say the Code is dead wrong on something so simple and basic and relevant as the very definition of nomenclature itself? How could any other source in the world, especially your personal opinion, possibly stand up against the international agreement behind the Codes? If they say "typography is not a matter of nomenclature", then by-golly you just happened to have previously misunderstand what nomenclature actually meant. No other source in world can compare on the question of 'what is included in nomenclature?'.
Here is a very important distinction that seems minor but isn't: typography is not an "informal rule" of nomenclature as you say, rather it is not nomenclature at all. Big difference, and it doesn't allow you to confuse the definition of nomenclature (contrary to the Code) and slide typography in the back door.
If I'm editing an article on Brugmansia, angel's trumpets, and I want to include some info on two unrelated taxa that were often confused as the same, Osa and Cubanola, then that might be ok even they are not Brugmansia, because they are relevant. However if I devoted 1/3 of my whole article to them, that would be massive undue weight; and if I confused the reader to possibly think they were a part of Brugmansia, that would also be wrong, both similar to the situation in our article here.
When you say "But if you can't discuss it here, where else would you discuss it then?", I agree! which is exactly why I said above that typography should still be included in this article; just not confused with nomenclature, and not given undue weight in an article about nomenclature. --Tom Hulse (talk) 07:27, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Eh... I actually agreed with you. "The conventions of typography is not part of naming, true" != assuming nomenclature included typography.<facepalm> And that was a bit overreaching, wasn't it? From a single negating sentence in the preface of ICN, you've somehow suddenly come upon the very definition of nomenclature. No, it wasn't defining nomenclature, I'm afraid. It was merely stating that typography was beyond the enforceable scope of ICN (which in itself is a bit hilarious, given that virtually no botanist actually follows their recommendation of italicizing ranks above genera anyway).
Here's ICZN's definition, an actual definition, with the relevant bits highlighted: "Nomenclature is the system of scientific names for taxa (such as species, genera, or families) and the rules and conventions for the formation, treatment, and use of those names." Note that ICZN itself only enforces the parts on rules, formation, and treatment. So does that mean conventions and use are not nomenclature?
So tell me. What is nomenclature then? The codes?
Speaking of which, why are you still conflating all the codes as if it was a single monolithic entity? I think that's actually the real source of the problem here. "The Code"? Singular and in caps to boot?
Which code? ICN? ICZN? ICNB? ICTV? PhyloCode? Since this discussion started you've treated the ICN as if it was the only code in existence. I repeat, we have articles on International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, etc. which deal with the actual respective rules of nomenclature. All your arguments about typography not being part of nomenclature are followed there. But this article is an overarching article for both your vaunted "nomenclature" and binomial names in general. And that includes the codes, their differences, similarities, history, conventions, and the actual practices of biologists. Naming and the names themselves. Didn't we just redirect binomen here just recently?-- OBSIDIANSOUL 09:53, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Tom, don't get hung up on the name of the article. There's some complex history over the number of articles covering nomenclature generally, but note that "Binominal name" as well as "Binomen" redirects here, and that there are separate articles for Specific name (botany) and Specific name (zoology).
It seems to me that this is a classic case of an argument about abstractions where the real issue should be whether any specific changes to the article are needed. It would be much more productive to discuss this. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:04, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Obsidian, you did not agree with me unless you said that typography is not a matter of nomenclature; I'm not sure why you were trying to inject "naming" in there. Your tortured interpretation of the ICN I quoted is wrong, it says nothing there similar to your "enforceable scope". It doesn't need any interpretation at all; it just plainly says that "nomenclature is not a matter of typography" and it is in the context of explaining why they can not have rules for typography. This is a definitive reliable source for this question, and no other code contradicts it. I have used singlar "the Code" (properly capitalized as a shortened proper name) when I thought it was obvious which code I was talking about or quoting; and "the codes" when referring to both major codes. All other codes combined are used at an extremely tiny fraction of these two and so have relatively little sway as a WP reliable source.
When you say you are quoting the ICZN, lets be clear that you are not quoting the ICZN Code, which would have international agreement behind it; rather you are merely quoting a webpage that was written by an individual who is sponsored by the organization that wrote the Code. Your page is part of a FAQ series for novices and has certainly not had the peer review of either of the codes. It is not in any way a reliable source that could stand up to the much more plain and direct wording in the ICN. But even if it were part of the Code, you assume/interpret that it says "typography IS a part of nomenclature", but it just doesn't say that. The web page merely says conventions and usage are part of nomenclature. This is ambiguous and doesn't make your point (it wouldn't be nearly a reliable source as the ICN anyway). There are all types of conventions and usage. Every time we use a solid rule in the codes... that is usage; it does not imply "writing" or "typography" as you wish. You're reaching again. But what does your less-reliable source actually say about italics or typography directly? Under How should zoological names be written, it says "...conventionally written in italics... This is desirable and recommended, although not mandatory." Even more direct than what I was proposing!
You asked "What is nomenclature then?" Here.
Peter, 'not getting hung up on the article name' is not the way it works at Wikipedia. If something redirects here that shouldn't, then that needs to be fixed instead of using it as a justification for making the article factually confusing as I outlined above. I notice that there is no Specific name (botany), instead it redirects to Botanical name, which would actually be an ideal place to have some typography info, since it is directly relevant to the article title. Also, the ICN and ICZN code articles would also be ideal to include typography info, since it is recommended by both codes. However I don't want to delete typograhpy here, just give it due weight. If you want (another) specific proposal, then let's first delete any mention of italics or capitals from the aticle opening for the reasons I gave above (1-they're "not a matter of nomenclature". 2-It is improper for us to get so specific in the opening). You also haven't commented on the reasons I gave for combining the "Other ranks" section into the Writing section. Also, again, please agree on a definition of nomenclature to include typography or not. Thanks! --Tom Hulse (talk) 09:49, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I think that the set of articles covering "scientific names and nomenclature in biology" has a confused, confusing and illogical structure. In several cases, including "Specific name (botany)" the redirects are not really correct. That's why I think it's not helpful (at present anyway) to be too concerned about the titles of the articles. I have tried in the past to suggest some rationalizations, but it's hard to get consensus for changes.
I simply don't agree that undue weight is given to typography. Non-biologists encounter binomial nomenclature mainly as strange Latin words in italics. The article explains the principles of two-part species naming; how Latin names come to be and how they are used in species names; how they are traditionally written. I see all of these as important components of the article – in that order.
The "Other ranks" section mentions italics in passing. Mainly it's there to very briefly differentiate the two-part naming of species from the one-part or three-part naming of other ranks. So I can't see that it should be merged into the "Writing" section – it has an entirely different purpose. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:11, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
"Non-biologists encounter binomial nomenclature mainly as strange Latin words in italics." No, no, no they don't, lol! Nomenclature is not using words, it is naming objects. Can't you see the difference? Nomenclature is about developing the name itself, not the writing/typography behind it. If you had said "Binomial name", then yes, you could say that common people see these as strange Latin words in italics, but not nomenclature. You don't get to change a well defined word and concept with just your opinion. Nomenclature has nothing to do with italics.
I really didn't want to be blunt, but Peter you just don't understand what nomenclature is at the most basic level. Since you refuse to comment directly on an actual definition for nomenclature, whether it includes typography or not, after I've asked at least 4 times, can I assume you recognize it is an uncomfortable hole in your argument? I didn't want a source war, but we can only blather so long, and since this is Wikipedia, sources rule. I've given you the ICN and the OED, what do you have on that level? --Tom Hulse (talk) 10:53, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Oh, but the recommendations are part of the code. Or was that also written by an ignorant nincompoop? You ironically also quote another part of the FAQs after just dismissing it as inconsequential. Typography is not part of naming. But conventions are under the scope of binomial nomenclature as a topic. And one of those conventions is typography. I don't know if that's pseudo-legalistic chauvinism you've picked up in your ICRA days, but I've stopped caring. There's nothing more soul-sucking than pedantry in the face of common sense and an overwhelming evidence of a convention being followed, code or no code. If that's opinion, then it's an opinion shared by all biologists, and that's a very heavy weight indeed. I'm sure generations of high school students will thank you for making it even harder for them to understand what those weird unpronounceable names are. Good day.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 13:23, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Tom, bluntness is fine.
  • I am simply not particularly interested in the current precise title of this article, as I have tried to explain. I'm interested in what the article should be about in order to complement the set of articles which cover the very broadly defined topic.
  • I also don't think that discussing what "nomenclature" means is very fruitful. The word has many dictionary definitions. You can start here. One common definition is "the terminology used in a particular science, art, activity, etc." Slightly different is "a system of words used to name things in a particular discipline". Another is "The technical names used in any particular branch of science or art, or by any school or individual; as, the nomenclature of botany or of chemistry; the nomenclature of Lavoisier and his associates." I can pick a set of definitions which concentrate on the actual names, the words, the terminology; you can pick a set of definitions which concentrate on the process of naming. Neither is right or wrong. Using my definitions, it's quite ok to say "Non-biologists encounter binomial (terminology|names|nomenclature – choose any one) mainly as strange Latin words in italics."
To be blunt in return, this discussion is going nowhere, and has become a waste of my time. You are trying to impose a narrow view, based on one interpretation of the current title of the article; Obsidian Soul and I are trying to ensure that readers get useful information, based on a broad but fully sourceable interpretation of the topic, bearing in mind that there are other more specific articles where the relevant codes can be discussed in detail to which this article should be complementary. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:47, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Tom isn't actually arguing against the italicization of scientific names, he's arguing against it being mentioned here or even discussed. At this point we might as well just turn this into a disambiguation page with links to the different codes. And how that even helps us or the readers is beyond me.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 14:03, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Peter, you failed to notice that your three cited definitions do not support your point. This is important: nothing in those three definitions conflicts with the Code's explanation that typography is not a matter of nomenclature. Your "Non-biologists encounter nomenclature as..." example reaches beyond what your definitions actually say; also, "non-biologists" alleged misconceptions are not encyclopedic. My definition is not narrow at all, and it is not mine, but reliably sourced by a "definitive source" as you yourself called the ICN (below) and from the OED; and it is not conflicted by any source at all that you have cited.
Your argument of not being interested in the article title is certainly reasonable, but we can not follow it for two reasons: 1) it makes the article misleading as to what nomenclature is, especially since you won't let me explain it. 2) 'not being interested in the article title' is not the way it is done at Wikipedia and you can not support this view from policy.
Obsidian, I am "arguing against it being mentioned here or even discussed"??? You were incensed above at even the hint you were being less that honest, and now you tell a whopper like that? You should apologize. Anyone can see that I have said repeatedly above that I do want to keep the info in the article. Here is one of my quotes from above: "...which is exactly why I said above that typography should still be included in this article; just not confused with nomenclature, and not given undue weight in an article about nomenclature." When you talk about "overwhelming evidence of a convention being followed, code or no code", yes the convention is followed overwhelmingly, but you are merely misunderstanding that it is not followed because it is part of nomenclature. That's a basic misunderstanding of what nomenclature is. It is like speaking in oxymorons; it doesn't make sense. When you say "it's an opinion shared by all biologists", again you are imposing your misconception on others. They follow it because it is a typography or writing convention, not because it is a nomenclature convention. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia for goodness sake, so it is not pedantry to want to avoid confusing our readers about the very definition of our article title.
Right now, if someone comes to our article for the most basic question of "what is binomial nomenclature", this article fails in its treatment of typography. It's ok to include info about other topics, and about other redirects; but it's important that we not confuse our readers to believe that the article title is directly about those other topics. In other words, in the case where we want to include info on 2 titles/redirects; one way is to just not get hung up on the article title; another way is to slightly separate the info and clearly explain the difference, without confusing the reader about which info is part of which title/redirect. Peter doesn't this also satisfy the same overall goals as your "don't get hung up on the name of the article"? --Tom Hulse (talk) 20:43, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
As opposed to what? I don't think anyone would appreciate coming in here asking "What is binomial nomenclature" and being told in no uncertain terms that "Nomenclature is ICN". As I said, the way you want it, this page would become nothing more than a disambiguation page to the codes. Have a gander at what sites come up when looking for "What is binomial nomenclature". Take a good look at what their discussions include.
And stop it with the fingerpointing you've been engaging in ever since you replied guns blazing above without even bothering to find out the context. I make no apologies, you're current rationale is so completely different from your first objection it's obvious you just wanted to find something wrong with something and prove the superioirty of your ICN knowledge. ICN, not anything else, just ICN, because ICZN is apparently written by amateurs.
Your being deliberately obstinate is even more obvious when your recommendation is exactly what we've been trying to say anyway. If you wanted to point out that typography is not part of the codes, say it clearly and explain that it's still an important convention. This is not what Tottingshire did. All he did was actually give the misleading impression that italics is a foible everyone can safely ignore.
But remember what your response to that was? You said no, because you have to be right and you can't bear to give assent that italics is actually quite important to biologists. And because even you can't argue against the overwhelming unanimity on typography in all the fields of biology, the only possible solution is apparently to remove mention of italics altogether (indeed, including history) for the utterly pedantic reason that it's not part of the modern codes. So yes, I was right the first time, you're arguing for the sake of arguing.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 22:43, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Oh, and one last thing, stop calling me a fucking liar, prick.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 22:54, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
You did it again, lol! Why would you say I wanted to "remove mention of italics altogether"? I just explained the exact opposite in my very last post, and even showed you quotes from above to prove I've been consistent on this. If you want so badly not to be thought of as an untruthful person, then why do you keep saying things about me like that? If other people think of you as untruthful, that is not some fault of theirs, that is a result of your own words; you alone hold the power to change your own image. When you say I "can't bear to give assent that italics is[sic] actually quite important to biologists", you are again speaking falsely about what I've said; as any reasonable person can see from my posts above above (do you want the quotes?). Before you try to "restate" or "sum up" my arguments for me again, could you please review the straw man article? In the same way that it doesn't feel great when someone says you are not being truthful, it also feels the same to me when someone claims I've said things that I haven't.
I have agreed italics "should" be used and that I use them myself; but that is because they are typography conventions, not nomenclature conventions. Nomenclature has nothing to do with writing names or italics, and our readers should really understand what nomenclature actually is. That is not just from the ICN, it is truly at the core understanding of "nomenclature".
When you ask me to Google "What is binomial nomenclature", sure, but I see nothing there from reliable sources that conflicts with the sources I quoted. I do not want to say that "typography is not part of the codes", rather that 'typogpraphy is not part of nomenclature' (in a more encyclopedic phraseology). I also want to remove all the specifics and details out of the opening, per WP:MOSINTRO and reduce it to 2-3 paragraphs per WP:LEAD. I want to explain in the Writing section what typography is, and that even though it is not directly a part of nomenclature, it is relevant to the use of "binomial names", which also redirects here. Reduce the lead, add to the article.
If you are serious that my 'recommendations are exactly what you've been trying to say', then I'm sorry for misunderstanding. I didn't see up above where you agreed the article needs changing, or agreed to any of the changes I proposed, but perhaps I just missed it. --Tom Hulse (talk) 19:41, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't know how you've been raised, but dropping F-bombs is an expression of exasperation, calling someone a liar is an insult. You've called me a liar even before you even knew what code I was talking about. This could have been a saner discussion but it seems like you have an axe to grind. I really have no idea where or how I've crossed you. I even distinctly remember trying to help you format an image from the Help Desk. I don't remember being unpleasant in that exchange. So where is this hostility coming from? My name? The apparent tone of my text? My nationality? The fact that I'm not an ICRA registrar? My edit count? Religion? LOL *throws up hands*
And fuck the straw man article, fuck that Dr. Phil posturing. More tangential bullshit. Let me put it this way: if you wanted to retain italics anyway, then what the fuck is the nonsense about "nomenclature" being this and "italics" being that? If anyone needs to read the straw man article it's you. Even before you started this crapfest, I've posted this in my talk page to Peter:
"Some of his changes are certainly true, but the emphasis being given is questionable. He only ends up muddling it up even further. If he really wanted to explain all the intricate details he should give the explanation in full rather than merely replacing it with even more dumbed-down summaries.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 20:21, 8 March 2012 (UTC)"
And this above:
"If you want to make it clear that it's not part of the codes proper, by all means go ahead. But explain it in full detail. Don't repeat Tottingshire's mistake of making it seem like everyone would be justified if they print it in normal text, mention a specific name in isolation, or capitalize everything (which as I pointed out are also part of the "recommendations" but are regarded as unwritten rules anyhow)."
Is that a clear enough summary of my stance from the very beginning? And your response to all of that was call me a liar some more and then pull up the argument about nomenclature. What was I supposed to conclude? What's the point? All your actions seem to be focused on demoting typography to something trivial and insulting me as broadly as possible for reasons unknown.
And have a look at the links you just posted why don't you. The lead paragraphs are not restricted to definitions of the title, they're summaries of the most important aspects of the body of the article. That was pointed out by Peter very early on. Just because italics is not part of the codes doesn't mean it's barred from the lead. Given it's actual prominence in scientific literature, it actually must be in the lead. Except that you started blathering about agreeing that italics are used everywhere but paradoxically avoiding admitting that they're important at the same time. At least not important enough to be in the lead apparently. Not important enough that they're instead relegated to a "traditional" thing.
And don't gloss over shit. Every single "binomial nomenclature" article on the net aimed at laymen, mention the italicization part prominently. Even the ICZN FAQ does it. I suppose your argument to that is that they're not RS? You don't like me. I get it. Fuck knows why but I get it. Let's leave it at that. -- OBSIDIANSOUL 03:44, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Problematic lead sentences[edit]

There were two sentences in the lead section which concern me and which I've removed for the present.

"Linnaeus called the second part of his two-part name a trivial name (nomen triviale), now known as a specific epithet. Together with the generic name, these two make up a binomial species name. [Bhattacharyya, Bharati (2005). Systematic botany. Alpha Science Int'l Ltd. p. 56. ISBN 9781842652510. ]"

There are two issues, one more serious, the other a matter of wording:

  1. Sources I've checked are divided or unclear as to what exactly "trivial name" means, i.e. whether it is the combination or just the second part. I think that it probably violates NPOV to quote only one view, unless we can find something more definitive (e.g. a clear statement by Linnaeus or some equivalent authority). Sandra Knapp, a botanical taxonomist at the Natural History Museum, London, says "So Linnaeus also assigned a 'trivial name' for each plant, a binomial name with only two parts." [See here.]
  2. The second part is only known as a "specific epithet" in botanical nomenclature; in zoological nomenclature it's a species name.

We ought to say something more about nomen triviale, although not necessarily in the lead, when its meaning can be clarified. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Peter I agree with removing the sentence, especially with apparently conflicting sources; but I hope I now have the evidence to sway you:
  1. Here is a link to a Google search for recent books (in the last 20 years) that might be relevant. I read text in the first 20 hits; 18 of them said "trivial name" was the specific epithet distinct from the generic name; 1 of them referred offhand to "trivial name" as though it were the full binomial, although this was a book about botanical illustrations, not botany itself; and 1 made no comment at all on the subject. I've looked before, and I think you will find a similar pattern if you narrow your searches to the most reliable sources. Regarding Sandra Knapp, since she also makes the mistake of not understanding what "species name" means in relation to botany when she said: "So the scientific name for the raspberry, Rubus idaeus L., can be broken down like this: Rubus (the genus name) idaeus (the species name)", so I don't know if we can really count her as a reliable source on this very detailed question. Third, Linnaeus himself, in his Philosophia Botanica 1751 said that trivial names would be one word; and in The families of plants 1787 three times differentiated "trivial names" from "generic names".
  2. I believe in the ICZN the second part of a binomen is called a "specific name", not a "species name". It equates "species name" to the full binomen.
So then would it be too awkward to mention both versions of the specific epithet in the opening: "Linnaeus called the second part of his two-part name a trivial name (nomen triviale), now known as a specific epithet or specific name. Together with the generic name, these two make up a binomial species name" ? --Tom Hulse (talk) 11:54, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Note that Sandra Knapp is discussing names in the context of Linnaeus, and he used "specific name" for what the botanical code now calls a "specific epithet" (as is shown in the second of your Linnaean sources, at least as it has been translated). Biologists are not noted for extreme precision of language, and it's easy to find examples of the technically incorrect use of terms ("synonym" is a good example) which don't necessarily prove that the writer doesn't understand the strictly correct use. However, I agree that she appears to be wrong.
My view is that "trivial name" is not sufficiently important to be included in the lead (certainly not the issue of whether it is one word or two), but that it should be explained in more detail in relation to Linnaeus in the History section. At present this appears to be carefully written to evade the issue of what exactly a trivial name is (one word or two), and it clearly shouldn't be. I think that p.220 of The families of plants is clear: "Trivial names ... would consist of a single word". So my view is that you should edit the History section to say this, sourced as here. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:21, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
OK, I made an attempt, but once I started I found that the whole thing needed a reworking to make sense with the new explanation. It's a first draft, so feel free to hack away at it. I also added some refs and tried to explain better what the problem was that L. solved. --Tom Hulse (talk) 23:01, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I made a couple of copy-edits; seems fine to me now and it clarifies what is not clear in the literature. (By the way I have other sources than Knapp who use "trivial name" for the two-part name but these are paper so not so easily shown to you. However, it seems clear that they are wrong.) Peter coxhead (talk) 09:16, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Definitive source? I've just noticed that Article 23.7 of the Vienna Code says "Phrase names used by Linnaeus as specific epithets ("nomina trivialia") are to be corrected ..." making it quite clear that the ICN equates trivial name to specific epithet. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:09, 11 March 2012 (UTC)


It might be good to fit a reference to pronunciation in somewhere. [1] or might be good. Drf5n (talk) 19:36, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Except that pronunciation of scientific names varies by language, by country, and even by region. --EncycloPetey (talk) 07:13, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes! Many articles give distinctly American pronunciations of scientific names (sourced to a US publication) without any acknowledgement that different varieties of English use different pronunciations. (Differences include stress patterns as well as the pronunciation of the vowels "a" and "o", cf. the well-known trans-Atlantic difference in the pronunciation of "tomato".) Peter coxhead (talk) 07:42, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure what you mean. Correct me if I am wrong, scientific names that are written latin-like in order to be unambiguous and to be understood no matter which are the commonly named (language, region, ....). Applying the same principle, they should be pronounce latin-like, independently wich language is used to deliver the message. 14:37 20 May 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
All this is covered in Traditional English pronunciation of Latin. Might be worth linking to. (talk) 22:01, 18 March 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Yancey, P.H. (1944). "Introduction to Biological Latin and Greek". Bios. 15 (1): 3–14.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)


There are a few examples scattered throughout the page, but might it be a good idea to include a short section of examples? Bob Enyart, Denver radio host at KGOV (talk) 16:43, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you have in mind, can you suggest some of the type of thing you'd like to see? Sminthopsis84 (talk) 19:02, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

Sure. Under Writing binomial names, a second section could be added:

6.2 Examples

Latimeria chalumnae for Coelacanth

Ginkgo biloba for the Chinese Maidenhair_tree

Danaus plexippus for the Monarch Butterly

Bob Enyart, Denver radio host at KGOV (talk) 02:53, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

How about a section of examples just after the lead section, so that it can be found more easily. It would require more explanation, for example:
  • Latimeria chalumnae J. L. B. Smith, 1939 is one of two living species of Coelacanth, the others being extinct"
  • Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758), commonly known as the "monarch butterfly" or "the wanderer" is native to North America but introduced elsewhere.
However, as a rather simpler experiment, I've copied some material from further down to that position. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 23:20, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

"Modifying the genus name"[edit]

In the section "Derivation of binomial names", the line which reads "The adjective modifies the genus name, and must agree with it in gender" is potentially confusing in my view, as the genus name is not modified in the most obvious presentational sense i.e. orthographically. This is particularly confusing when the text subsequently discusses examples of different specific epithets complying with different genus genders, because in those examples the orthography of the epithet is modified to match the genus gender. Hence the reader is now presented with the conundrum of first being told that the adjective modifies the genus name, followed by examples demonstrating the opposite, where the adjective is modified by the genus name. I think the problem arises for 2 reasons: first, the term "modified" needs clarifying, and second, there is ambiguity in this context when talking of "names", because of course a "name" is a concept but also a description of a concept. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the particularities of binomial nomenclature (though I use it on a daily basis, I've never actually studied it), so thought a posting here might be preferable to attempting an edit that's an error. PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 19:22, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

That is an amazing insight, I would never have seen that! I've tried a simplification; see what you think. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 21:04, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
The original use of "modify" is a bit of linguistics jargon, quite clear to those of us used to it (I could have written it), but out of place here. The revised version is much better. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:55, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree, the revised version removes the potential confusion that I had perceived, and is thus much better. However, with the "modifies" text removed, I can now see a rationale for the previous wording, as it attempted to provide a reason why the adjective must agree in gender with the genus name, in the same way that the text also comments on nominative and possessive nouns (as second parts) not having to agree in gender. Using the text about nominative nouns as an inspiration, does anyone think that constructing the line as "Grammatically the adjective is said to modify the genus name and hence must agree with it in gender" manages to explain without potential ambiguity/confusion? PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 00:27, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I'd leave that to you to decide. My feeling is that for readers with some familiarity with the gender-agreement concept in some language it isn't necessary to say more. If they know, say, French, they might not know the (English) grammatical term and don't need to be introduced to it. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:30, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I am content to leave it as it is. Thanks for addressing my queries! PaleCloudedWhite (talk) 20:51, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

"Unique within a kingdom"[edit]

That needs fixing since the relevant component is the codes of nomenclature, not kingdoms, but for now I can't think of suitable wording. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 21:04, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

It is tricky. Something like "unique to the group of organisms covered by a particular code" and then perhaps explain that a fungus and a plant can't have the same name because both are covered by the ICN but a fungus and an animal can because they come under different codes. Would this work? The trouble with all articles on nomenclature seems to be that if comprehensible to the target WP readership they aren't accurate enough for taxonomists, and vice versa. You already know that it's a risky area in which to edit! Peter coxhead (talk) 22:03, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Species name[edit]

Species name contains redundant info, and the vast majority of species names are binomens (genus + species epithet). See also Specific name (zoology), which might also warrant merging to Binomial nomenclature for the sake of centralized, comprehensive coverage. --Animalparty-- (talk) 02:28, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Oppose - this page, binomial nomenclature, is long and tends to accumulate poor-quality material, and is unlikely to remain for long on the watchlists of taxonomists because it is too difficult for a knowledgeable person with measurable blood pressure to monitor it. The other pages need more work but are important for figuring out the maze of different concepts used in the different codes of nomenclature. If that material were merged here it would be less accessible to people who need it, and would be likely to be deleted by readers who don't appreciate its significance. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 16:18, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
I see your point. I have withdrawn the merge request for the time being. --Animalparty-- (talk) 19:46, 10 February 2014 (UTC)


Can we at least mention that -ii is not a genuine Latin genitive ending, but rather, an error deriving from misreading words where the ending -i happens to come after another i? (talk) 22:09, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure what you want to say here. Names which have endings which are not "Latin in form" have an i added before the relevant gender indication, thus "Johnson" produces johnsonius as the nominative and johnsonii as the genitive. Peter coxhead (talk) 00:00, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

@ IP:

[Article] 33.4. Use of -i for -ii and vice versa, and other alternative spellings, in subsequent spellings of species-group names. The use of the genitive ending -i in a subsequent spelling of a species-group name that is a genitive based upon a personal name in which the correct original spelling ends with -ii, or vice versa, is deemed to be an incorrect subsequent spelling, even if the change in spelling is deliberate; the same rule applies to the endings -ae and -iae, -orum and -iorum, and -arum and -iarum.

Example. The subsequent use by Waterhouse of the spelling bennettii for the name established as Macropus bennetti Waterhouse, 1837 does not make the subsequent spelling an available name even if the act was intentional.

ICZN. Just thought you'd like to know.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough16:33, 5 May 2014 (UTC).

Binomial Nomenclature referring to exactly?[edit]

Linnaeus used the term Binomial to indicate a 'closed' question or that is at least what I thought. In the History section third sentence of the Binomial Nomenclature page make it's reference to a "diagnosis or description" of the clade saying that this side of the binomial terminology has been phased out. For example, say the question "Has the plant any flowers?" the answer would be either 'yes' or 'no', which in turn would take one to the Angiosperms as flowering plants, or alternatively to gymnosperms if the answer was no. I believe from earlier readings this is the binomial reference that Linnaeus wanted to highlight. The object of this exercise was to ease the identification of a specimen with the active use of the nomenclature charts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:45, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

Examples, please[edit]

EXAMPLES PLEASE: How about placing some better examples of names from different conventions early in the article? E.g. a human's "full name" under this name is X..., and under this convention is Y... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:52, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Dawkins's summary[edit]

In Climbing Mount Improbable (1997, Penguin, UK; ISBN 9780140179187), Richard Dawkins says (p.36):

I shall be using Latin names, and I hope I shall be forgiven a schoolmasterly footnote on the conventions governing them because surprising numbers of educated people (perhaps the same people as wince-makingly refer to Darwin's masterwork as Origin of the Species) get them wrong. Latin names have two parts: a generic name (e.g. Homo is a genus) followed by a specific name (e.g. sapiens is the only surviving species of Homo), both written in italics or underlined. Names of larger units are not italicized. The genus Homo belongs to the family Hominidae. Generic names are unique: there is only one genus Homo, only one genus Vespa. Species often share a name with species in other genera, but there is no confusion because of the uniqueness of the generic name: Vespa vulgaris is a wasp, in no danger of being mistaken for Octopus vulgaris. The generic name always begins with a capital letter and the specific name never does (nowadays, although the original convention was that it could if derived from a proper name. Even Darwinii would nowadays be written darwinii). If ever you see (and you often will) Homo Sapiens or homo sapiens it is always a mistake. Note, by the way, that the word 'species' is both singular and plural. The plural of genus is genera.

Especially if the first sentence is left out, this is a remarkably concise exposition of binomial nomenclature. Might the article make use of it? zazpot (talk) 00:53, 20 October 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 3 external links on Binomial nomenclature. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 21:04, 2 November 2016 (UTC)