Re: birding-aus Common names

Subject: Re: birding-aus Common names
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 17:16:43
Hi Sean -

At 12:05 29/07/1999 +1000, you wrote:
>What do people think of the issue of capitalising common names as opposed to
>not e.g. Red Kangaroo as opposed to red kangaroo?

I can sympathise with your dilemma of trying to decide which policy (to
capitalise or not to capittalise) to use if you are producing books for a
market with a huge north American component (where the tendency not to
capitalise English names has gone farthest).  With at least one of the
magazines you mention as NOT captalising, I think the reason is patent -
the editorial policy was set by an editor imported from overseas.

However, my own view is definite on this one;  I agree completely with Phil
Battley - if you are referring to a particular species you CAPITALISE.  Not
to capitalise is to create ambiguity - a red kangaroo may be a
spray-painted Eastern Grey.  Calling the yellow form of the Crimson Rosella
a crimson rosella is plain ludicrous.  What is a brown thornbill, a grey
wagtail or a singing honeyeater?  Have you ever seen a short-billed
dowitcher?  Not to capitalise not only causes ambiguity and degrades
information content, it debases the English language.

You gotta stand firm on this one, Sean.


Hugo Phillipps,
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
Email: <>
Web Homepage:

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