BBC story - capitalising bird names

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: BBC story - capitalising bird names
From: John Leonard <>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 13:55:41 +1100
"Grammatically this seems correct"...

Sorry to keep banging on about this topic but grammar has nothing to do
with capitalisation or not.

Grammar is a property of the relations between the words of a sentence, not
of their written representation. It would be quite possible to have a
written representation of a grammatical sentence that had no puncutation or
capitalisation at all.

Oh, and I am in favour of capitalising species' names.

John Leonard

On 4 January 2012 13:42, Jeremy O'Wheel <> wrote:

> The Australian Journal of Zoology, and I think most scientific
> journals has this to say in its note to authors;
> "Do not use initial capitals for vernacular names of species except
> where the name is based on a proper name (e.g. regent honeyeater, but
> Port Lincoln parrot; sugar glider, but Leadbeater´s possum)."
> Grammatically this seems correct, and I presume explains why the BBC
> and Australian Geographic follow the same convention.
> It might be a specific convention amongst birding organisations to
> capitalise common names, but I think it's not a normal convention more
> generally, and I suspect most publishers of more general biology than
> just birds would not follow this convention.  The Oxdord dictionary
> definition of "proper noun" seems to support not capitalising common
> names.
> Jeremy
> On Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM, Tony Keene <> wrote:
> > Ah, the tyranny of house styles. A certain institute I used to work at
> had a house style almost incompatible with the sciences and a publishing
> group that really should know better in the chemical sciences produces
> styles that border on the illiterate. As for a response from the BBC, good
> luck. As Ian Hislop once said "the BBC goes from breathtaking arrogance to
> grovelling apology wih nothing inbetween."
> >  One thing sometimes overlooked is that while a species is treated as a
> proper noun, the family is not (so Wonga Pigeon, but a flock of pigeons).
> >  Cheers,
> >
> >  Tony
> >

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