Capitals and common names

To: "Dave Torr" <>
Subject: Capitals and common names
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2013 15:20:49 +1000
Thanks for your response Dave but I think you may have missed my point.

The subject title of the discussion originally was “Capitalisation of bird 
common names” as created by Steve (insert family name here) and then became 
“Capitals and common names” as per Graeme Chapman. Thus the discussion is about 
capitalisation of “common names” and the very good reasons for doing that but 
the discussion is not about the choice of the name itself. As often happens in 
this oft resurrected discussion, the term “English names” came into the 
conversation as a replacement for “common names”.
Thus my point was to question the correctness of referring, in this context, to 
common names as “English names” even by members of a society/country which has 
English as its first or national language.
I was asking for a better or more appropriate label than “English  name” (which 
I happen to think is totally inappropriate as it appears to have somewhat 
racial overtones). I am quite happy to use  “common names” as that may be 
appropriate, even if sounding a little demeaning, but I wonder if there may be 
a better term. Since writing my original comment I have been prompted to 
consider “vernacular names” as a possible better choice.

A discussion on the correctness or otherwise of capitalisation of the “common 
names” used by birdwatchers should, in my mind at least, be an international 
one and therefore it is inappropriate to refer to “English names” or, indeed 
German, French, Swahili or any other national language names.
Naturally, bird common names in different languages use different words and may 
have different meanings. What those words should be is not part of the 
discussion; it is whether those words which should or should not be capitalised 
that is the discussion.

Bob Inglis

From: Dave Torr 
Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:25 PM
To: Robert Inglis 
Cc: Birding-Aus 
Subject: Capitals and common names

I think most languages have their own names for at least the local birds - so 
English name is perfectly accurate in Aus (and UK, USA etc) whereas the common 
name for House Sparrow in French is "Moineau domestique" (see Interesting 
that the "domestique" (=House) is not capitalised....

On 14 April 2013 11:57, Robert Inglis <> wrote:

  In the name of pedanticism............

  There must be a better label than “English names”. Personally, I prefer 
“common names”.

  Or should we only capitalise/capitalize the English versions of bird common 

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