Philip - thank you.
I seem to be getting into all sorts of trouble with compressed messages.
I would be concerned about boring listees witless, but they can always use the
old delete button.
There is more than one issue
lurking here. I’d better take them one at a time.
Back in the
1970s the AOU, BOU and RAOU were concerned about ‘misleading’
names. If a Quail-thrush was not a ‘thrush’ it should not be ‘Quail
Thrush’ or ‘Quail-Thrush’; ‘Quailthrush’ or
‘Quail-thrush’ were, by contrast, acceptable, the differences being
small but significant. No problem there, all above board, politically
correct, AOK etc
In 1978 a RAOU committee
reported specifically on the issue of English names for Australian birds.
It favoured a whole new set of compound names where compound names were not necessary.
I’d better keep my examples to a minimum and stay with ‘Black-Cockatoo’
for various ‘Black Cockatoos’ and ‘Imperial-Pigeon’ for
various ‘Imperial Pigeons’. The problem with this is
that it was not then a widely accepted approach. If it was not taken up
internationally we would be adding to the number of alternative names.
Then came the
Sibley&Monroe list (1990). This was a high-water mark for
hyphening and used ‘Green-Pigeon’, ‘Turtle-Dove’
etc. It probably drew on the 1978 list for Australian species (nearest
thing to a standard list for Australia). This used ‘Black-Cockatoo’
and ‘Imperial-Pigeon’ but at least cross-referenced ‘Cockatoo’
and ‘Pigeon’ in the index.
I think it is
significant that Sibley&Monroe was not intended to ‘preclude regional
usage of locally established names’ but to suggest a ‘consistent
alternative to the scientific name in English-speaking countries’.
C&B1 (1994) followed
the 1978 recommendation in this respect and it became the standard form within
From: Philip Veerman
Sent: Sunday, 17 February 2008 5:56 PM
To: Geoffrey Dabb
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Thoughts on C&B2
am quite comfortable with the "hyphening adventure" but if they
use ‘Glossy Black-Cockatoo’ it is quite dumb to not have
it under ‘Black-Cockatoo’ in the index and put it under
‘Cockatoo, Glossy Black’. Is there the same silliness for
BFCS under "Shrike, Black-faced Cuckoo". Indeed "Black-faced
Cuckoo-shrike" becomes hard to understand without the hyphens.
wonder how well known is the problem of the name ‘King-Parrot’. I
wonder have you made efforts to highlight this. You have explained it to me and
I did not know from elsewhere that it should be King's Parrot.
also wonder have they corrected the dopey oft repeated miss-spelling of the
species name of the Collared Sparrowhawk, (with the extra wrong h in it -cirrhocephalus should be cirrocephalus).
like the name Maned Duck.
The new Christidis and Boles is a terrific contribution to
what’s what (at least for now) with the local birds.
One thing I notice about it is the use of – and
willingness to revise – geographical labels like
‘Australian’, ‘Australasian’ etc. We seem
to have moved on from the stage where English names can acquire authority from
usage and be allowed to settle down. After all nobody is proposing
changing ‘Papuan Frogmouth’ because it occurs in Australia, or
‘Canada Goose’ because it occurs in the US. I notice
that 4 names in this category have been sufficiently hardy to have survived
from Gould: Australian Pelican, Australian Pratincole, Australian
Bustard and Pacific Gull (which I’m sure would not be called that
if it was being named now).
Moreover some geographical names look somewhat arbitrary and
are based on species limits that are evidently little more than
speculative. Therefore be prepared for more changes. If you are
interested in this kind of thing see the enclosed table which sets out the
relevant geographical names in the list, with historic counterparts.
I have a particular dislike of ‘Australasian’
which does not slide easily from the tongue and in my view should not be used
unless unavoidable. According to my Macquarie ‘Australasia’
has a primary meaning ‘Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and
neighbouring islands of the South Pacific Ocean’. A secondary
meaning is ‘Australia and New Zealand’.
‘Gill and Wright’ is the 2006-published list of
recommended English (world) bird names supported by the International
Ornithological Congress. With one striking exception nearly all C&B2
English names are also accepted in G&W, allowing for a slightly more
conservative view on some of the splits. (It is noteworthy that
‘Maned Duck’ lives on.)
G&W’s view of ‘Australasia’ is
even more expansive: ‘Wallacea (Indonesian islands east of
Wallace’s line), New Guinea and its islands, Australia, New Zealand and
its subantarctic islands, the Solomons, New Caledonia, and
Vanuatu’. [Not necessarily in order of importance, one assumes.]
C&B appear to have created a roadblock to international
uniformity all their own. This is the idiosyncratic practice of hyphening
names like ‘Black-Cockatoo’ and ‘Imperial-Pigeon’ (not
to mention the ridiculous ‘King-Parrot’). This was suggested
in the 1978 recommendations and was unlikely to catch on internationally, and
it hasn’t. If you want to find ‘Glossy Black-Cockatoo’
in G&W don’t look under ‘Black-Cockatoo’ in the
index. Try under ‘Cockatoo, Glossy Black’. It is
a pity the opportunity was not taken in C&B2 to retreat from the hyphening
adventure. Perhaps too many Australian texts had already followed it.