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.
From: Dave Torr
Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:25 PM
To: Robert Inglis
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
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
Or should we only capitalise/capitalize the English versions of bird common
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