Re capitalisation of bird names

To: John Layton <>
Subject: Re capitalisation of bird names
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2008 12:04:42 +1000
It has, Bernd Heinrich , in his classic "Ravens in Winter" adds a
footnote to his introduction "Although the American Ornithological
Union has decreed that the specific names of birds be capitalized,
for consistency I yield here to the more common practice of not
capitalizing the names of animals, including birds". Strangely enough he stuck to the convention of capitalising names which had geographic or eponymous origins, so you find in the book mentions of "gray
crow", "African brown-necked raven", "Edith's crow" and so on.

I think the problem is, that in the Anglo-phone world we have a
generation and a half or so of people who were taught English under
education systems in which the teaching of Grammar and to a lesser
extent spelling was regarded as unnecessary because it was thought
that the pupils would learn them by a marvellous osmotic process.
Unfortunately we now are in the situation where the products of
educational wonder-world have entered professions such as Teaching,
Journalism and Administration, not knowing a Gerund from their

Oh for an English language equivalent of the Académie Francaise

Carl Clifford
On 17/04/2008, at 9:21 PM, John Layton wrote:
Looks as if this little bone of contention has been around for a good while.

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