White-cheeked Honeyeater

To: Philip Veerman <>
Subject: White-cheeked Honeyeater
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2015 05:36:32 +0000
It was too early in the morning, after a late night, for accurate typing, 

> On 23 Jun 2015, at 2:24 pm, Philip Veerman <> wrote:
> Clive wrote that "Christidis & Boles list it as Phylidonyris niger" but not 
> in my copy. Christidis & Boles (RAOU Monograph 2 1994) give it as 
> Phylidonyris nigra and quote Bechstein 1811. It is also given (by Cayley) as 
> Meliornis, meaning honey + bird. Not that I know much, but hard to see how 
> Latin Philedon = honeyeater. Wouldn't phil relate to lover, rather than 
> eater? (I would have thought eater would be phag. Is edon = honey? I would 
> have thought the issue comes down to what was the spelling given at the time 
> it was first described, being the correct name, unless there is a reason to 
> determine that as invalid or changed. Should priority of name be changed just 
> because of mismatch of gender between genus and species name? What a crazy 
> idea that is, especially if it is as hard to decide as it would appear to be 
> here. 
> I am amused by Carl's "is a bit of a manmade word". Assuming that man 
> includes women, I wonder what other sort of word exists. (Carl first left the 
> n out of Phylidonyris and in the 2nd message extended this by leaving out the 
> ny.) Some of these changes happen in books just because someone made a 
> mistake and many other books copied the mistake. Good example is in the 
> Sparrowhawk wrongly listed in many books as Accipiter cirrhocephalus instead 
> of Accipiter cirrocephalus.
> Philip
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of 
> Carl Clifford
> Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 10:49 AM
> To: Martin Butterfield
> Cc: Birding-Aus
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] White-cheeked Honeyeater
> Hmm, that is slightly different to what is said in James Jobling's "A 
> Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. If Phylidoris is one of those 
> Greek-Latin hybrid words, it probably should be given a specific epithet that 
> is neuter. No doubt whoever agreed on the name thought they were a better 
> classicist than they actually were.
> You are right about giving words a gender, a right pain. Could be worse 
> though. Latin could be still alive and well and we would have to deal with 
> the declension of nouns on to of their gender. No wonder the Roman Empire 
> declined.
> Carl Clifford
>> On 23 Jun 2015, at 9:44 am, Martin Butterfield <> wrote:
>> According to "Australian Bird Names a complete guide" by Ian Fraser and 
>> Jeannie Gray the Philedon element comes from the Greek for "attractive",  
>> The Cinnyris bit does link back to sunbird .
>> The business of gender of names all makes me glad we speak English, as with 
>> all the irrationalities in that language, at least we avoided daftness like 
>> having to decide what gender to apply to words such as the French 
>> "l'internet"!
>> Martin
>> Martin Butterfield
>>> On 22 June 2015 at 21:24, Carl Clifford <> wrote:
>>> Hi Clive,
>>> Bit of an update on the mystery. I have been doing a bit of a rummage 
>>> through the library, and it seems that Phylidoyris is a bit of a manmade 
>>> word. It comes from the French, Phylédon (Honeyeater), which comes from the 
>>> Latin Philedon (honeyeater), cobbled together with the Latin Cynnyris 
>>> (sunbird). No wonder the taxonomists couldn't decide which sex the word 
>>> was. Probably should have been called nigrum, the neuter form.
>>> Carl Clifford
>>>> On 22 Jun 2015, at 4:17 pm, Clive Nealon <> wrote:
>>>> Greetings,
>>>> Can someone explain, please, why HANZAB, Pizzey & Knight (8th Ed), and
>>>> Morcombe field guides list White-cheeked Honeyeater as Phylidonyris nigra,
>>>> and
>>>> IOC and Christidis & Boles list it as Phylidonyris niger?
>>>> Thanks.

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