Yes, very true. Some of the early Ornithologists were not as good at Latin and
Greek as they thought they were. Though with the number of declensions and
conjugations in Latin, you can't really blame them.
On 5 Mar 2014, at 10:59 am, Dave Torr <> wrote:
> Very true. And occasionally a mistake was made in the original gender
> assignment and the name gets changed even if the genus has not changed....
> On 5 March 2014 16:12, Nikolas Haass <> wrote:
>> ... and obviously splitting or lumping, results in species name changes as
>> well. In the first case, a subspecies name gets elevated to a species name
>> and vice versa in the latter case. (However, this usually also results in a
>> change of the English name).
>> Nikolas Haass
>> Brisbane, QLD
>> *From:* Dave Torr <>
>> *To:* Martin Cake <>
>> *Cc:* "" <>
>> *Sent:* Wednesday, March 5, 2014 3:05 PM
>> *Subject:* Re: [Birding-Aus] Scientific names
>> My understanding Martin (and I am not an expert at all) is that the
>> specific name is usually construed as an adjective which modifies the genus
>> part of the name. The laws of Latin gender apply and if a bird is moved
>> from a "masculine" gender to a "feminine" one (a strange concept that we do
>> not have in English) then I believe that the specific part may be modified
>> accordingly? So it is not true that it never changes - but usually the
>> change is a minor one on the ending of the word?
>> But I agree it does not happen very often!
>> On 5 March 2014 15:22, Martin Cake <> wrote:
>>> Mike I take your point but I'm not sure I agree with your premise that
>>> vernacular names are more 'useful'.
>>> I realise this is a wellworn topic but for the sake of answering Steve's
>>> request for clarification (and defending the taxonomists!):
>>> Look again at Steve's question and you will note the specific name
>>> (species epithet) of the bird in question has not changed - basalis.
>>> Nor will it ever change for the type population (which I think is our
>>> Australian bird?) as there are strict rules of precedence, unless
>>> due to obscure early synonyms. So the specific name is in fact very very
>>> stable - arguably more so than the vernacular.
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