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Sensu latiore and sensu ampliore[edit]

What about "sensu latiore"? Does anyone know its literal meaning?

Not sure. Also "sensu ampliore". Hesperian 13:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

I think this article could be updated so as to make it clear that these expressions are used much wider than just in taxonomy (sensu latu). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:11, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Sensu latiore and sensu ampliore belong here. Taxonomic terms belong in sensu (taxonomy). Doloco (talk) 19:39, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Technical text[edit]

I happened to look up this page and I liked the original text and would have left it. Then I noticed the gripe about technical section. So I added clarification with as little change as might be (as I saw it anyway!)

Then I noticed the discussion questions about the comparative degrees etc, so I added something to reply to them.

I hope what I added was useful. Anyone interested in tidying it up...?


JonRichfield (talk) 19:26, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

I think this sentence deserves an award:

However simple that sounds, it is one of the most fundamental principles of using available information in dealing with the world about us. In biological taxonomy, as you may see in the next section, the same principles are used...

I wonder if that concept of inclusion might be applied more directly to (the the gripe about) the technical section? (Everybody enjoys the principles of clear thinking.) My eyes fogged over there not because it was too complex or technical, — but because it was too jargony, too specialized looking, an odd, alien wall excluding to all but a very few specialists. Or? ...perhaps the narrow specification and clarification was intended and required?
-- (talk) 13:12, 23 May 2011 (UTC)Doug Bashford

Hmmm... Yes. Thanks. You are right. Not that I was trying to be difficult, it just happens to be the way I think about that subject. I'll try to turn it into human-speak ASAP. Every now an then one needs a brick against the skull to wake one up. Cheers, JonRichfield (talk) 14:23, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
Hi again Doug, sorry to pester, but if you find yourself feeling masochistic, could you have another go and see whether it is now better or worse than before? I really am no longer capable of criticising it rationally. Numb. Thanks in optimism, JonRichfield (talk) 17:37, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

Taxonomic meaning should be in another article[edit]

Please note that Wikipedia articles that discuss the same word as used in different disciplines are disambiguation pages. I created sensu (disambiguation) where the different meanings can share the same page.

Now this article only refers to sensu in relation to humanities (Latin, linguistics, English, philosophy). The technical taxonomic meaning should be discussed in sensu (taxonomy). For example, note that lato sensu has no relation to taxonomy, and therefore the equivalence between sensu lato and lato senso should not be explained in the taxonomic article. Doloco (talk) 18:36, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

No, it doesn't. The original article (and current article) were primarily about the meaning of the word in biological taxonomy. you have created a content fork, which is ill-advised. Please revert to the original article. If you wish to start a new article about a different meaning of sensu, that's fine, but there's no reason to move all the content out in order to make the article a new one about a different subject. --EncycloPetey (talk) 23:35, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Then what is the place to put the section "Latin, its current relevance or convenience"? There is no use for that in a taxonomy article. Also, the mentions to lato sensu and stricto sensu are misleading to say the least. Doloco (talk) 18:04, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Please explain.
1:What is misleading about lato sensu and stricto sensu? I have small Latin and less Greek, but AFAIK, they mean the same as sensu lato and sensu stricto respectively. Is there some way in which they would cause a blush in biological circles?
2:How does the article being largely oriented towards taxonomic terminology and convention imply that there is no use for the discussion "Latin, its current relevance or convenience" in that context? That section was written with biological taxonomy largely in mind, though with the realisation that it was relevant to other disciplines as well, and that the laity might also find it helpful if that is what they are reading it for. By all means, part of the text might be paraphrased or even borrowed if it were useful elsewhere, but that does not affect its usefulness here, does it?
Note that though I did not complain when you introduced the big split, I was just a bit taken aback. You really never did make your point. I did not write the original article, but responded to a request to make it more comprehensible to persons in various disciplines. Though I certainly am not a Latin scholar, I do have a wee armlock on some aspects of various flavours of taxonomy, and I would love to hear your views if you think you can put them more persuasively than you have to date. JonRichfield (talk) 18:48, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
1: Imagine a discussion in the newton (unit) article, telling than in proper English last names are capitalized. Or proposing the abbreviation Ir for iron instead of the customary Fe. Using lato sensu in Biology instead of sensu lato would be the same. The governing bodies of Zoology and Botanics use something which resembles Latin, but is not actual Latin [1]. Anyway, the references provided don't have lato sensu or stricto sensu.
2: The article in Biology does not need the section "Latin, its current relevance or convenience". The governing bodies of Zoology and Botanics are international bodies who care little or nothing about Latin or English, and the Biology students who go to sensu (taxonomy) couldn't care less about the non-technical meaning of sensu lato. For the few of them who do, they could see the sensu article. This section is like teaching the Greek language to an electrical engineer, only because Ω happens to be the abbreviation of ohm.
We need a very short article for Biology, and a longer one for everything else, i.e. Latin, linguistics, English, philosophy, law and logic. I think that ru:Sensu stricto and ja:sensu are good examples of what we need for Biology. I read the translations in Google Traslate: Russian and Japanese. Doloco (talk) 01:07, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Doloco, I regret to inform you that you strain my imagination cruelly. Your analogy between your examples and lato sensu instead of sensu lato simply is not relevant, let alone compelling. The fact that one syntax is rarely used in comparison with the other might be of incidental interest, or it might not. Cogent in context it certainly is not. If I chose by way of elegant variation say, to write something like: "snarks, even sensu lato, cannot be asserted to include those that have feathers and scratch, but even strictissimo sensu, no one would deny that they include those that have whiskers and bite," not even the purists in the discipline of snarkology would blink. The fact that not many of them would think of such a mode of expression spontaneously, is neither here nor there. Nowhere in biological expression is correct classical grammar or orthography expressly forbidden, except where taxonomic nomenclature has adopted a slip of the pen or an illiteralism on the grounds of priority. (eg "Crematogaster"). But that I am sure you will agree, is a totally different matter.
While I admire your largeness of spirit in claiming: "The governing bodies of Zoology and Botanics are international bodies who care little or nothing about Latin or English, and the Biology students who go to sensu (taxonomy) couldn't care less about the non-technical meaning of sensu lato. For the few of them who do, they could see the sensu article," I must point out that even if I accept such protestation on your part on their behalf (though I would love to see a hard citation in support!) the article was not predicated on their particular tastes and interests. That passage in particular was written in response to a request for more comprehensible text for the benefit of readers not familiar with the field and without a perspective on particular aspects. Neither such readers nor the author could care less what your contacts in such bodies could care less about; it is a matter of amiable mutual indifference. Now if you could exhibit a properly and cogently controlled study demonstrating that a large majority of naive readers found the new text confusing in context, that might carry a bit more weight. As for consulting other articles, fine, they are welcome to do so, but the other articles are not where the requests for clarification originated (unless you can show me a few that I have missed). Cheers for now. I am expecting an imminent power outage and I wish my deathless prose to remain deathless. JonRichfield (talk) 07:48, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Why do you think that we need a short article for Biology and a long one for everything else? As it stands, the biological content makes up almost all of the article. I have seen no evidence that a long article (or even a short article) covering any other fields is warranted. In my opinon, everything else can be handled through Wiktionary, since only the biological senses have irregular meaning but regular usage. --EncycloPetey (talk) 02:43, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Petey, I agree with your remarks, except with your reservation that your not having seen evidence for the significance of the use of such terms in other disciplines suggests that "everything else can be handled through Wiktionary". Possibly it could be, but I suspect that if we could catch a tame, literate, legal expert, cut off its tail and teach it it tricks, it could write a most instructive and even entertaining (err... make that encyclopedic) section for us. And I reckon that geological usage (to name an obvious example) would be pretty close to biological convention. I'll see whether I can turn up anything, but I am no geologist as well as being no Latinist. JonRichfield (talk) 07:48, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that there isn't content to be written. Rather, I'm saying that there's no evidence yet that it needs encyclopedic coverage, as opposed to dictionary coverage. If someone should produce appropriately written and citable content, then that's great. --EncycloPetey (talk) 04:34, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
That's fine by me. I would already have written something along those lines, but writing encyclopaedic content on unfamiliar material tends to be a time-consuming exercise, so I cannot promise to schedule anything Real Soon Now! :-) JonRichfield (talk) 09:22, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Since writing my foregoing remarks I have done a bit of fossicking among Google books to reassure myself about my memory, and although sensu stricto and sensu lato predominate, there are dozens of thoroughly technical books in various aspects of biology that unblushingly use stricto sensu and lato sensu, so although I admire Doloco's confidence, I cannot accept his assurance that real biologists don't eat quiche. I assume that, since those references are unlikely to disappear soon, I need not cite them, but let me know if you fail to locate them and I shall assist. Cheers, JonRichfield (talk) 13:10, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
They're comparatively rare orderings in biology though, especially since the journals usually have style guides that force one ordering (or reviewers who do). That phrase order is far more common in legal texts than in biological ones. I'll see whether I can find a source or two that states this explicitly. --EncycloPetey (talk) 04:34, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Again I cannot but agree with both your opening points. My point was that for Doloco to disqualify the perfectly correct and comprehensible usages in biological taxonomy just because they are unusual, is coming it strong. That the usage is commoner in legal and philosophical texts than biological ones, even if the phenomenon is trivial, is indeed of sufficient interest for inclusion in the article IMO, though it would be nice if someone with authoritative knowledge or sources could support the discussion. So I await any discoveries or perspectives with interest. JonRichfield (talk) 09:22, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Inappropriate tone[edit]

Much of this article is written in a completely inappropriate tone for an encyclopedia. It reads more like a teaching handout. It needs completely re-writing to be factual and descriptive. There should be no use of "reader" or "we" for example. See in particular WP:TONE. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:00, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

The reason for the didactic tone was that there was a request in April (see history) as follows: "This section may be too technical for most readers to understand. Please help improve this article to make it understandable to non-experts, without removing the technical details." My original contribution was a response to the request. Reading like a teaching handout might be reprehensible in many ways, but to confuse encyclopedic material with po-faced prose seems to me to be missing a number of points. Conversely, by all means point out which factual errors or omissions you have noted (you failed to mention any); they would certainly be grounds for correction. Similarly please point out non-descriptive items or omissions or feel welcome to replace them with the real McCoy; that is what WP is for. Should you succeed according to your own standards, while losing nothing functional in the product, please be assured of as much of my personal applause as you might desire. Since typing the foregoing, I have seen some of your edits to the article and FWIW they are generally IMO good. Accordingly I have done some editing and would appreciate it if you could comment or contribute appropriately.
I remain however curious about some of the requests for citations, which I assume were your own. It neither is clear why they were perceived to be necessary, nor even which aspect of the text needed supporting citations; eg. Did you want support for the botany (irrelevant in context and in any case elementary) or for the Latin? I did my best to select sources that satisfied both, but good luck if you have better ones. I assume that you have access to a University library? JonRichfield (talk) 09:06, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Tone Personally I think that the "too technical" tag is often added inappropriately, i.e. where the material is at the level which would be found in, say, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but some reader thinks it's too difficult. It's appropriate if the article contains jargon which isn't explained or glossed, but not if the material is intrinsically complex. Articles about science, maths or linguistics, for example, are bound to be more difficult to understand than articles about popular culture. But even if the "too technical" tag was appropriate, the solution is not to write in an un-encyclopedic style. I hesitate to remove it, but in my view, almost none of the section "Latin, its current relevance or convenience" has any place in an encyclopedia; it's largely an explanation suitable for an opinionated style guide. All that should appear in Wikipedia is a summary of what reliable style guides say, not what editors think (even if there is a consensus among them).
Citations No time to comment now, but I will later. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:40, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Peter, I am not unfriendly to your points, but I urge you to reconsider some of the underlying suppositions and their implications. (To forestall any inappropriate interpretation of my remarks, please note that I am not aiming them at you nor your work in particular, nor holding you responsible for any principles that some WPians regard as fundamental.)

Firstly, the fundamental function of an encyclopedia is to convey information as effectively as possible, and the broader the receptive audience, the better. To my mind, anything that militates against that principle is a betrayal.
I'll intersperse a few comments. The information an encyclopedia should convey, and Wikipedia in particular, is that information which is already in reliable sources and only that information (as per the slogan "VnT"). Peter coxhead (talk) 22:25, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Some compromises are of course necessary; I could (in other contexts than WP(!) I have on occasion done so for my own amusement) easily write passages that technically would be perfectly correct, and "encyclopedic" in WP terms, but difficult even for advanced practitioners to make the slightest sense of. Equally, it is possible to write nursery gibberish. I was once presented with an article and requested to turn it into monosyllabic English for the simple English Wiki for non-English speakers in difficulty (I think the topic was something to do with vitamins, but can't remember.) I was praised for the result, which apparently was accepted almost without editing, but I found the effort exhausting and unsatisfying; I did not repeat it.) However, IMO, anything reasonable between those limits, anything correct and readable, preferably pleasantly readable, is as fit for any instructional (you might prefer some such term as "informative") text as anyone could ask, and the wider the serious readership it is suited to, the better. I do take your point about over-use of the too-technical tag, but where it can make a difference to the number of readers the article can benefit, it is worth some effort and some toleration, no?
I propose that any application of the term "encyclopedic" calculated to reduce either information content, or information accessibility, is wrong-headed. T. H. Huxley was a fine thinker and wrote prolifically, but he was turgid. Compare his works with those of John Tyndall, who was to my mind in a totally different class as a science writer, and in no way his inferior as a scientist. Somewhere in such comparisons, I propose, there is food for reflection. Some editors in WP would invalidly devalue Tyndall in comparison. The Victorians produced some books that were in effect caricatures of technical writing, and others that were absolute gems. What do you think of Faraday for example? He wasted few words, but any interested schoolboy could read his stuff.
It is perfectly correct to apply the term "non-encyclopedic" to reduce the content of (in fact completely remove) information which is WP:OR or WP:SYNTH (or, in other contexts, violates WP:NOTHOW). Peter coxhead (talk) 22:25, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
I would be happy if you could see your way to re-reading and re-evaluating the Latin relevance para. None of it is a style guide. It is a description of effective usage and benefit, strictly relevant to the topic under discussion. It might of course have been put into a different article on the subject of technical notation, nomenclature and expression, in which case it could harmlessly have been linked to from this article. Do you know of such a one? All I could find was Scientific terminology and they seem to have their own problems there. Remember, I am not speaking of writing a Strunk and White clone, which I regard as an altogether different matter, but something that treats technical language and terminology as a functional medium.
Which is what that para does, don't you think?

Cheers for now, JonRichfield (talk) 18:27, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm afraid I don't think it's what the section does. Below I've analysed the start of the section. Underlined text is mostly opinion. Italicized text is factual but should be a reflection of what reliable sources say, so should be referenced.
  • "There is no definite limit to how sophisticated a level of Latin may be brought to bear in such terminology; it really dates back to the days when all standard communications in such subjects were written in Latin. That was not so long ago; Latin only really began to fall out of favour for such purposes in the eighteenth century, and gradually at that. The presence of these terms in modern writing is largely the residue of the terminology of old documents."
  • "These finer distinctions may well help in expressing intended meanings more flexibly, but they need not always be taken too seriously. An inspection of any collection of references will produce a range of very variable and dubious usages, and often a great deal of unnecessary fuss. In contrast, the glossary attached to the textbook on Biological Nomenclature produced by the Systematics Association expresses a very dismissive attitude to the question; the only relevant entries it presents are:"
  • "Such entries suggest that the Systematics Association is not concerned with hair-splitting in the use of the Latin terms."
  • ""
If you don't see that it's totally inappropriate in a Wikipedia article to write things like "these finer distinctions ... need not always be taken too seriously" rather than something like "according to X,[1] these finer distinctions ... need not always be taken too seriously" then I really don't know what else I can say. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:25, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi again Peter, Thanks for your trouble in highlighting your points. I shall return to them later, but first I remark that having slept on the matter, I shall be removing at least that section from the article and moving it (with some editing inspired by your remarks) to Scientific terminology, where it is more specifically in keeping with the main substance of the article. I shall instead leave only a link in sensu. It might be reasonable to move some other sections as well; I haven't yet looked. Petey might be pleased if I do, but as he has not yet (at the time of my reading this) taken issue, I am unsure. Frankly, I think that article needs even more stringent editing than this one, but more to the point, sensu is not where the point belongs. So much for storms and teacups.

More fundamentally, let's see whether you can persuade me of the more fundamental points -- those not specific to this article. I am not being difficult (deliberately anyway) it is just that (like you, I suspect) I regard the principles involved as very important.

For now, let's take: 'In informal or non-technical English, to say: "strictly speaking"... the vernacular.'. Please explain what is debatable, assailable, insufficiently formal, incomprehensible, or naively proscriptive about that? It is a simple, literal, relevant statement of fact, not an evaluation, nor even informal. If you had written a statement to that effect, with what sort of reference would you support it? Alternatively, what sort of reference would you use in faulting it? Assuming, no doubt too hastily optimistically, that you do fail to criticise its content and context, but object to its wording, then in what substantially different mode would you have expressed it?

I'll leave it at that for now in case you do not wish to toil through the other examples yet, but I shall not insult your effort by ignoring them unless you express an explicit preference for my doing so. Cheers and thanks again JonRichfield (talk) 09:39, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

  • "In informal or non-technical English,to say: "strictly speaking" for Sensu stricto and "broadly speaking" for sensu lato and so on is valid."
This sentence expresses an opinion, not a fact (an obvious riposte is "who says it's valid?"). A fact would be that in informal or non-technical English the vernacular terms are used rather than the Latin terms. It would then be necessary either to support this fact by a reference or to be able to do so if challenged. A fact would be that some particular named style guide says that in informal or non-technical English the vernacular terms should be used rather than the Latin terms. As it is written the first sentence should not be in a Wikipedia article.
  • "Even in formal writing there is no formal requirement to use the Latin terms rather than the vernacular."
The second sentence can be read factually if the reader takes "formal requirement" to mean a requirement written down in a formal source or sources, but in this case these should be given as references. It's then not clear to me that it's actually true. For example, I don't know enough about legal writing to be sure, but I suspect that some legal Latin terms are required, at least in some countries. If I read this in Wikipedia, I need to be sure that it's correct and I'm not. That's why references are needed. (If instead "formal requirement" is an editorial opinion, the same problem arises as for the previous sentence.)
The deep issue is how you should write Wikipedia articles. We seem to disagree about this. I can only repeat what I think is the case. You read around the subject; decide how to organize the article; then re-write what is in the sources you've read, adding no extra opinions or facts, however "obvious". Every single sentence should ultimately be traceable to a source or be a very simple logical deduction from material in the source. Did the two sentences picked out here originate in this way? If they did, it doesn't appear so. I don't wish to sound rude, but I don't see any point in discussing this further; I'm just saying again what I've already said. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:30, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Peter, I am sorry to say that we seem to disagree too deeply in attitude for me to insist in discussing the sense of the matter in the face of your reluctance. Without asking you to respond, I merely remark that the "riposte" as you call it, needs no counter-parry; the English is valid because in essence and in context it means what the Latin means. The term "formal requirement" I used in the same sense as "formal logic", where derivation follows as a consequence of the form. There is no way in which the text would become incorrect if English were used, because the effective propositions would remain unchanged. As you rightly point out there are certain disciplines where "formal" in the sense related to "formality" do demand Latin (eg legal references and biological names), but these do not apply to forbidding vernacular in cases such as sensu. I state these points not as arguments, but as (cursory) clarifications of what I apparently had not made plain, so do not feel that I am unreasonably requesting that you continue the discussion that you probably rightly see as pointless. Go well. JonRichfield (talk) 20:16, 29 December 2011 (UTC)


The 2nd example is factually incorrect - Malvaceae s.l. is also monophyletic, not polyphyletic. The reason for the adoption of the wider circumscription, including the former Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae is that Bombacaceae is paraphyletic with respect to Malvaceae s.s. (and may even remain so after the exclusion of Matisieae) and Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae are polyphyletic. (The former would be fixable by transferring Durioneae to Sterculiaceae, but the latter two require either swallowing them all into Malvaceae, or dividing the group into several more families, as in for example by Cheek in Heywood et al.) Lavateraguy (talk) 12:44, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

@Lavateraguy: so should it just be removed? (As the discussion above shows, I have grave reservations about much of the article.) Peter coxhead (talk) 20:35, 19 January 2015 (UTC)