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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 00:22   #101
Michael Frankis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allwood
can't think of any serious bird book or ornithological journal that doesn't use capitalisation - not that I'm making a value judgement here, just an observation
Hi Tim,

Not strictly an ornithological journal, but Animal Behaviour doesn't. That's about the only one I know of.

Michael
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 00:51   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Frankis
Far from universal!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetacea

Michael
Rather than take the inconsistent presentation of an online "encyclopedia" as some kind of reliable source (look at the entry for "Humpback Whale," for instance, where Wikipedia not only uses upper and lower case for humpback, but uses lower case when referring to "fin" and "blue" whales elsewhere in the same text), I -- as do all marine mammalogists I know -- defer to Dale Rice's "Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and Distribution" for not only the latest taxonomic order but for the conventional spelling and case. I've seen non-scientific sources (such as Wikipedia) occasionally use upper case but it's non-standard. Newspaper reporting of whales by their common names also employs the lower case. The standard in the marine mammal world IS to use lower case for the common name.

There's a small contingent who has tried to start capitalizing cetacean common names in an effort to give them more "human" standing (particularly in court cases).

As far as "clarity" is concerned, there's no way common names -- capped or not -- will clarify anything unless accompanied by the scientific name, particularly where those discussions span the globe and the same scientific name has multiple *common* names! Who cares about caps if you're calling it something else altogether anyway?

But what the hay, we're not going to resolve this here. I just assumed the capping of common bird names was the convention in the birding world, wrong or right, whether I liked it, and let it go. I get much more exercised over people over the age of 16 for whom English is their first language who can't spell and can't punctuate. (Grammar -- I'm not so fussy, since I can't remember what a dangling participle is much less when to use "like" and "as.")
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 02:01   #103
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
I see no evidence at all that it aids understanding or is inadequate. In fact I think it might even detract from understanding: it is surely useful to know when a bird has been named after a person or place, for example.

But as I have suggested, grammar is merely a way of describing the conventional ways of using language, i.e. the rules that apply to the use of a dialect called standard English. If a convention changes, then standard English and its grammar changes. Above, Michael makes a good point - maybe I am a touch out of date? But, I shall still use lower case because it looks right to my eyes.
Wonder how Chaucer would have phrased it.
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 03:16   #104
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Hi Katy:
But what the hay, we're not going to resolve this here. I just assumed the capping of common bird names was the convention in the birding world, wrong or right, whether I liked it, and let it go. I get much more exercised over people over the age of 16 for whom English is their first language who can't spell and can't punctuate. (Grammar -- I'm not so fussy, since I can't remember what a dangling participle is much less when to use "like" and "as.")

Right On: What we seem to have here is a case of "much ado about nothing". It's obvious that there are some extremely intelligent folks in the- home country-. Wonder why we can't teach them to lose their English accent. Oh, and don't forget to add the split modifier to your dangling participle.
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 05:07   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig whitmore
Wonder why we can't teach them to lose their English accent.
Which one, Craig?
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 05:13   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig whitmore
Wonder why we can't teach them to lose their English accent.
Oh, please don't lose any of 'em. They're very sexy.
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 07:51   #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Frankis
Hi Tim,

Not strictly an ornithological journal, but Animal Behaviour doesn't. That's about the only one I know of.

Michael
And no dictionary uses capitals so far as I can find, including the OED; neither do any of the leading encyclopaedias.
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 08:01   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
...What would your solution be to the solitary sandpiper/white-rumped sandpiper ambiguity highlighted above?
Doh... if I say common noun to someone interested in English, would confusion result; if I say March hare...? We know the collocations that exist in our field of interest and so they should never cause ambiguity.

BTW, would anyone here write Oak Tree, Buttercup or Earwig? You can see what English teachers are up against these days - "But I like it that way, Mr. C!" It's little wonder poor spelling, punctuation and grammar are a commonplace.

;-)
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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 12:53   #109
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Hi Steve,


Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
And no dictionary uses capitals so far as I can find, including the OED; neither do any of the leading encyclopaedias.
Yeah, they're full of all sorts of other ornithological errors as well, frequently using invalid scientific names that were dropped 50 years ago, etc, etc . . . I often get the impression that dictionary and encyclopaedia compilers don't have a clue about biology and its standard conventions!


Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
BTW, would anyone here write Oak Tree, Buttercup or Earwig? You can see what English teachers are up against these days - "But I like it that way, Mr. C!" It's little wonder poor spelling, punctuation and grammar are a commonplace.
No, as they're not individual species. But I do write Sessile Oak, Holm Oak, Turkey Oak, Northern Red Oak, etc (and so on for all the other 500 or so oak species) - and so do most of the tree books I've got

Under old fasioned grammar, the old world species Quercus cerris is Turkey oak (named after the country), whereas the new world species Quercus laevis is turkey oak (named after the bird that eats its acorns) . . . silly, isn't it! . . . is it any wonder kids get it wrong if they have to delve into such esoteric information to get their caps right!

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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 13:49   #110
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Steve: If nothing else you can console yourself with the knowledge that at least we have a reason for liking it that way!

Hope I haven't missed it amidst all the fun and games, but what is the usual publishers' convention for land mammals?
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Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 13:55   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
Hope I haven't missed it amidst all the fun and games, but what is the usual publishers' convention for land mammals?
Fairly mixed - I've seen both. But I get the impression that capitalising is on the increase. It'll be interesting to see which Lynx do when they start on HMW after they've finished HBW. Whatever they do will become the de facto standard, I expect.

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Old Sunday 1st August 2004, 14:45   #112
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Ah but dictionaries and encyclopaedia know a thing or two about communication skills. But...

...I would be only too thrilled if even a few of my students had the level of passion in something (anything - except partying and booze) that you have, Michael, for trees (even if, like you, they get their capitalisation all mixed up and insisted they were right).

Some things us teachers happily put up with when enthusiasm and passion are evident in abundance.

(((-;
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 20:56   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Frankis
It is done for two reasons:

First to avoid confusing the general with the specific, e.g.:
"There are three common terns in Northumberland, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Arctic tern, and five common gulls, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull"

Second, because it introduces uniformity of treatment, so that you don't have to work out whether a species 'should' or 'shouldn't' be capitalised depending on the etymology of the name. Otherwise you have to go through the silliness of having to capitalise some (e.g. birds named after people or places) but not others, which makes the species concerned appear to be of unequal taxonomic status (even though they are equal)

Michael
At the risk of starting another thread, isn't it time we got rid of the word 'common' in bird names?! Rosefinch succumbed a few years ago, (and so far I've only ever seen one!) so isn't it about time Gull, Tern and Sandpiper followed?
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:06   #114
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I understand thet the Common Gull was so called, not because it is/was numerous, but because it was "plain".

Don't know about the others... but I think there are many areas where bird names should be "revisited"!
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:14   #115
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Common whitethroat was always one I could never quite understand - but, thankfully, their numbers have increased of late, so the epithet, "common" seems okay these days!
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:22   #116
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I think all bird names should be left as they are to avoid many texts and literature becoming further out of date and prevent time consuming or costly revisions of text/data.
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:24   #117
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[quote=birdman]I understand thet the Common Gull was so called, not because it is/was numerous, but because it was "plain".

I heard that it was because 'common' referred to inland areas where it often gathered outside the breeding season.
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:29   #118
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[quote=cbarfield]
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdman
I understand thet the Common Gull was so called, not because it is/was numerous, but because it was "plain".

I heard that it was because 'common' referred to inland areas where it often gathered outside the breeding season.
Just a tip - if you want to quote from a message, you have to leave in the final square brackets.
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2004, 21:33   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
I think all bird names should be left as they are to avoid many texts and literature becoming further out of date and prevent time consuming or costly revisions of text/data.
Oh, Andrew... you've got no sense of adventure!
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