Vernacular names

To: <>
Subject: Vernacular names
From: "michael hunter" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 18:40:57 +1000
     Hugo's point that there are three catergories of bird names is taken,
but at odds are the Recommended English Names (RENs) themselves.

 The argument put when the names were changed, ie that Australian names be
altered to conform to names familiar with overseas birdos, was a terrible
put-down of Australian birdos, and although it must be acknowledged that
British birders in particular have done a lot for Australian Ornithology,
not using our vernacular  bird names as RENs to suit them was, if I may say
so, exceptionally  arrogant..

   Truly Scientific Ornithologists use Scientific Names, for those
birdwatchers studying various groups but finding common names more
convenient, it would be just as easy to use vernacular based RENs as those
based on overseas common names.

    How many of those new RENs inflicted on us were based on classifications
which were in use before  DNA studies completely split most of our endemics
from Northern Hemisphere lookalikes?

  Fair enough that Northern Hemisphere (feathered) migrants with established
English common names keep those RENs. but there is no reason why unequivocal
Australian vernacular names not be used as RENs where these birds are
predominantly Australian or migrate from countries without English common
names, like New Guinea.

 I suggest that the number of people who might confuse the Australian Jabiru
with the South American one would not exceed the number of thumbs on both
hands. Anyone Ornithologically sophisticated enough to be studying Storks
would know the difference, or use Scientific names if there was any chance
of confusion.

      That is what Scientific names are for.That RENs replace Scientific
names as the world reference standard for birders, zoologists and town
planners is, might I respectfully suggest, a vanity.

   The number of Australians watching Australian birds far exceeds that of
overseas visitors, and I'd be prepared to bet that most of the latter would
welcome local colour in the names of Australian birds as well as in the
birds themselves. Our bird guides are predominantly written for Australians,
to use non-Australian names in them is offensive, but they all do, and as a
result, RENs are usurping vernacular names, only "Jabiru" has survived to
any significant extent.

   The suggestion that local Birdos were given  the opportunity for a vote
on the new names when they were brought in twenty odd years ago was to some
extent true, but their vote was completely ignored as I recall.

   A revised list of RENs is overdue, with perhaps a ten year overlap period
when any new and old names are used together. The English language is the
one language which constantly adapts and changes, RENs should not be the

 Apologies for any bruised toes, but this is a topic that has rankled since
the names were changed before.

Michael Hunter
Mulgoa Valley
50km west of Sydney Harbour Bridge

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