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Old 11-15-2006, 04:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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RE: Pronunciation

The convention this year had tons of the usual tongue-twisting fun. IMHO, hack it up, as Sean notes there is no such thing as correct Latin pronunciation for scientific names. The trick, which was already mentioned, is to be sure that the two parties know what each other is talking about. e.g. I refuse to pronounce "Blyxa" as "BLI-zuh" because no one would know what I'm talking about, I don't care what sounds are in Church Latin "BLIX-UH" is more clear to most American hobbyists. I won't even mention how Troels from Tropica (or maybe it was Ole) pronounced "Cryptocoryne" - it would start a war.

The scientific naming scheme can also be problematic due to large reorganizations in taxonomy. I have a book by a leading Cichlid ichthyologist (woohoo firefox 2 spell check ) who wrote it using common names because the taxonomy was being revised so heavily.

I realize this issue is a separate one from just using and learning the names but I find I need to sound it out before I remember it. Don't be embarrassed if you're new to a club or coming to the convention, all of us are hacks and no-one is pronouncing it better than anyone else.
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Old 11-15-2006, 04:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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"Y" as a long i? My father-in -law is an evolutionary botanist who seems to know the scientific name for just about every plant out there, including phylum and family. Head of the department, has guest lectured at Harvord and Oxford, yad-yad-yad... I once asked him if he had any tips for pronounciation. His reply, say it like you mean it. Honestly, ask a room-full of experts on a particular organism and you'll get a room-full of different choices. Apparently photos are a major asset.... I am sure all those from the ECS will testify to that.

What is even funnier, in my opinion, is ask a room-full of experts how to pronounce the name of some other expert who does not happen to be in attendance. I think I have heard 10 different pronounciations for "Lynn Margulis" (one of UMass's claims to fame).

As for Cavan's original question, I think proper names are very important and I refuse to use common names, generally. I will admit though, I sometimes say stargrass instead of Heteranthera zosterifolia because the topic window is so small

You know what we should do...(slightly off topic) start filling all the proper names with, links to the plantfinder, into Wikipedia.
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Old 11-16-2006, 04:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I just sold a kleiner bar as melon sword at a local aquarium club. because buyers would be wary of buying a swordplant that would require high maintenance.

try to sell plants at a local fish club using latin names and watch the rolling of eyes. One of the 'club elders' commented, "do you use CO2 and all professional" answer: yes, but I don't have 30 aquariums at home, neither.-that's what I would have LIKED to say
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Old 11-16-2006, 04:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredyk View Post
try to sell plants at a local fish club using latin names and watch the rolling of eyes.
Not at my society. Fish are sold mostly by Latin names, plants are sold by both Latin and common names. People do giggle a bit when one gets really stuck on a Latin name though...

Quote:
One of the 'club elders' commented, "do you use CO2 and all professional" answer: yes, but I don't have 30 aquariums at home, neither.-that's what I would have LIKED to say
Hope to have 30 tanks (mostly small ones) by the middle of summer. Need to put in a water system first though...
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Old 03-31-2007, 03:59 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Dennis wrote:
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I once asked him if he had any tips for pronounciation. His reply, say it like you mean it.
This has served me very well over the years. Also, attending talks (and even just club meetings) by people more experienced in the area will help absorb the common rhythm of botanical names, which helps with wider understanding. If I haven't heard the name spoken before (or don't remember it) I personally study the proper spelling, then accent syllables almost as if it were pronounced in spanish, then flatten out the emphases a bit until it "flows right". If I'm going to be talking about it, I'll repeat it to myself a few times until it becomes a habit. If I do hear it pronounced several different ways, I'll apply the general vague "rules" I know, and pick a pronunciation I like. If you don't emphasize it strongly , few people argue. I'll also sometimes pronounce the name as if it's a question if I'm really unsure, which invites friendly corrections or opinions on pronunciation.

There are always people that are generally recognized as the "best" pronouncers of botanical/zoological names. Even if I think something is off, it's easier and just as practical to just go along with them.

I've barely started the process with aquatic plants; when I worked in pet shops and nurseries years ago, the botanical names weren't emphasized much in sales or labeling.

In another of my several plant interest areas, the Gesneriaceae, it is well known and accepted that different people from different areas will pronounce the names differently, and corrections only made if the name is obviously mangled. The rare debates are little things, mostly argued in fun; whether "Sinningia" is with a hard or soft g; and whether latinized proper names should be pronounced latinized, or whether the name should be pronounced in its native language with a latinized (or greek) ending. Similar situation in Cactus groups, but people tend to be a bit more prickly about it. Some carnivorous plant aficionados can bite your head off if you don't pronounce something as they learned it themselves

Back to the original question, I agree for all the reasons stated above that common names are confusing and counterproductive. They are useful only in the very early stages of learning, i.e. bringing African Violet collectors into the loop about other related Saintpaulia species and the rest of the family Gesneriaceae.

Fortunately for the fans of that plant family, the precedent has been generally to use botanical names, or shortened versions of them, all along. Even arguably antimellifluous names like Aeschynanthus, Nautilocalyx, Petrocosmea, and Streptocarpus are used or shortened just to something like "Streps"; even among those most likely to use cutesy names for everything possible. Discussion group and club members are rarely confused about which plant we're referring to.

Almost eveyone's happy with all the advantages of this, after a short acclimation.

Vincent
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:12 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Your honor, I dissent.

While I agree we need a common terminology that allows to communicate with some level of precision, I don't think the scientific, latin-based nomenclature is best for us hobbyists.

1- It gives a fake impression of science that's neither appropriate nor useful. We're hobbyists, not scientists: we never define a research protocol, have it reviewed, attempt to establish a controlled environment, or redo experiments. What we do may feel somewhat scientific sometimes, but it ain't. (I don't doubt there are bona fide scientists doing research on this stuff.)

2- We don't need the precision afforded by scientific names. It's overkill. It takes time and effort to establish whether a specie is correctly identified. As a hobbyist I care about how the plant looks, how it grows, the conditions it needs to thrive, etc. Not its definite, absolute, unique name. (I do need a name for it though, see below.)

3- It complicates our communications needlessly. Even the sticky in this forum about "common spelling mistakes" contained a number of spelling mistakes (corrected in followup posts, so at this point it's probably good). Except that there are sometimes genuine questions about whether a given specie exists or not. So what do we do? Nothing, ignore the problem.
And that's only in writing. Others have pointed out that in speech, Latin's a disaster. I know my club auctioneer would gladly welcome english-based names for most plants.

4- More and more plants "new" plants don't have scientific names. So what do we do? We make one up anyway. Rotala "green", rotala "nanjenshan" etc. I say, let's keep going. I would like to see a grass-roots effort (maybe spearheaded by APC) to give common names to the plants frequently used. The Plant Finder seems like the perfect medium to get this started.

I'm not advocating we necessarily come up with brand new names. What I'm after is an easily read, easily written, easily pronounced alias for each plant. That would simplify everyone's life tremendously. E.g. "rotala green" is just fine. Same for "sunset hygro". Sometimes a mere translation from the Latin would be enough: Beckett's crypt.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Just for fun, I'll take the opposing view.

One person's "rotala green" may not be the same as another person's. Maybe for one it's Rotala sp. 'Green', while to another it's Rotala macranda 'Green'. Most of us here know the difference, but a newbie would certainly not. Trying to answer the question using the common name in the usual search engines doesn't get you very far. The only truly non-ambiguous way to name things is Genus species, 'Variety'. New plants eventualy get "proper" names. Ludwigia 'Guinea'became Ludwigia senagalensis. Will this name ever change? Probably.

At the same time I'll admit that taxonomy is messy - almost hopelessly messy. There is no hard and fast rule that separates the lumpers from the splitters. It's also a continuously moving target. It is less messy than common names though. I think all you can possibly do is try to keep up with it.

Honestly though, I don't think too many people here go nuts about it unless you're trying to describe a rare or new species. In cases like that, it's important to avoid ambiguity. For me, when describing a plant or selling a plant, I prefer the Genus species name to facilitate further research on the part of the reader. I'll certainly admit thought that I've referred to some of the "Narrow leaf Java fern" and "Petite anubias" in my tanks.

Finally, let's not forget that not everyone here speaks English as a native language. Common names become hopelessly useless when moving from Japanese to Polish to Dutch, etc. Scientific names at least give everyone a chance at understanding.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Quote:
Originally Posted by renaudw View Post
2- We don't need the precision afforded by scientific names. It's overkill. It takes time and effort to establish whether a specie is correctly identified. As a hobbyist I care about how the plant looks, how it grows, the conditions it needs to thrive, etc. Not its definite, absolute, unique name. (I do need a name for it though, see below.)
A lot of what I enjoy in the hobby is the science behind things, collecting plants in the wild and IDing them, learning what all of the Latin suffixes and preffixes mean etc...

Also, using the scientific names also helps to ensure that the plants traded among hobbyists are correctly IDed. I do agree that learning the names can be daunting at first, but with some patience it's not too hard to get down.

This all is not to say that common names don't have their place. I mean how much easier is it to say "HC?"
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Old 09-27-2007, 03:45 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Sure plant geeks will keep on using scientific names, but for everyone else it would be tremendously helpful to have an alternative. I think APC should lead the way and take the initiative in this.

A strong parallel can be made with fish names. Maybe you know what a Phenacogrammus interruptus is, personally I'm happy calling the Congo Tetra. Same for Cardinal tetras, Neon tetra, etc. The common names are just fine for the vast majority of everyday uses, and only the most pedantic of individuals feel the need to use proper scientific names. Hey, that's fine with me!

I'm sorry, the argument about name clashes doesn't hold. Once again, in a hobbyist context some name clashes are perfectly acceptable. Whenever I hear somebody wanting to buy Didiplis diandra, I always wonder whether they wouldn't be just as happy with Ludwigia arcuata or L. brevipes. I think in most cases what they really want is an "orange-tipped needleleaf".

My point: it's nice to have a truly unique name for a specie, but most of the time it doesn't matter. In fact, it's downright cumbersome. This hobby would be more popular if plant names could be pronounced by mere mortals.

Who's in charge of the Plant Finder? How can we add common names in there? Are people interested in helping me do this?
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Old 09-27-2007, 04:03 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why accurate plant names are important

Are you implying that Didiplis diandra, Ludwigia arcuata and L. brevipes all have similar growth patterns, light requirements, substrate & hardness preferences, and appearance? If so then it's clear that you haven't actually kept these plants. I for one would be pretty upset if I ordered L. arcuata and got a clump of Didiplis. It would be like paying for a horse and getting a camel.

Call one a long, weedy, fast-growing plant and another a short, squatty, broad-leafed, slow-growing plant if you'd like. Personally, I'll stick with Hygrophila and Anubias.
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