Publishing convention re bird-names

To: "Birding-Aus Aus" <>, "Carl Clifford" <>
Subject: Publishing convention re bird-names
From: "Russ Lamb" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 12:21:00 +1000
I believe Carl is correct in nominating style manuals as the source of the problem. There was a time when newspapers, publishing houses, government departments etc.each had their own "style guide" (note, "guide" not "manual") to assist internal authors with their publications. Increasingly however, guides have given way to manuals, and the dominant one is the Federal Government endorsed (propably too weak a description) publication "Style manual: for authors, editors, and publishers" 6th edition (2002), which appears to have influence in Australian publishing way beyond the Commonwealth Government's many agencies.This manual was (to quote from the Australian Government website) "revised for the Australian Government by a consortium of communication and publishing professionals" and "provides guidance and recommendations for anyone faced with the task of preparing material for publication in either print or electronic format". A quick glance at the members of this consortium reveals that they indeed are involved in the publishing industry, but of more interest to me was that only one (of at least 10) appeared to come from an academic linguistics background. None of this answers the question posed by previous correspondents as to why previously capitalized bird species names are no longer capitalized, but the decision appears to be part of a broad momentum to make published works more accessible to all readers, regardless of intended audiences and well-established and logical linguistic conventions. It is, in effect, yet another example of "dumbing-down" and the oxymoronic statement of "one size fits all". I would be interested to hear what Sean Dooley, as editor of the old Wingspan and new Australian Birdlife, thinks of the reach of style manuals, and what guides him in publishing the magazine. (Interestingly I note in the first edition of the magazine that the front cover uses non-capitalized "birdlife", but the editorial refers to the magazine as " Australian Birdlife")

Russ Lamb, Maleny,SEQ

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