Common names

Subject: Common names
From: Allan Burbidge <>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 09:27:45 +0800 (WST)
I'm having some difficulty seeing what all the fuss is about.
Prior to the publication of the RAOU 1926 Checklist, names of Australian
birds were somewhat idiosyncratic, so the checklist committe attempted to
bring some order to it. Nevertheless, the Convener of the committee, J.A.
Leach, wrote in the introduction
"Appropriate, descriptive, children's, and poets' names are still required
for many Australian birds." Obviously, many readers of birding-aus still
agree with this.
The 1978 'Recommended English Names' was intended for the purposes of "use
in ornithological literature". There was nothing stated or implied to
suggest that there was any disagreement with J.A. Leach's 1926 sentiments
concerning the need, or appropriateness, of alternative names, for
situations outside the formal literature. The problems simply come when
other people try to force the issue outside this literature, or perceive
that the names were intended for something they were not meant for.
So, it seems to me sensible to use the recommended English names in at least
that part of the literature that will be read by overseas as well as
Australian birders, but for other situations, particularly in spoken and
informal communication, let's follow the spirit of J.A. Leach as we feel
appropriate, rather than complain about something that wasn't meant to apply
to such situations.
There are some interesting local names, some descriptive, so why should we
lose such names as tin-tac, tom-tit, etc from everyday language? 
By the way, does anyone know the origin of the name Rock Peblar (for Regent
Allan Burbidge      
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