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AOS community forum on English Bird Names (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I know of 3 POC birders, and all three are for the proposed name changes, one of which is a good friend and an excellent birder that is pretty outspoken on these issues.
History aside, do these POC really feel unwelcome or unable to enjoy the hobby to the fullest extent that they otherwise would, since they found out who certain people are.

Objecting to historical personalities for whatever reason, is valid enough in some cases, however, people got in to birding for their own reasons and through their own channels, I'm certain, without knowing the history behind eponyms. I find it really hard to swallow that they suddenly feel unwelcome and unable to enjoy our hobby to the same degree because they are now aware of acts or opinions some 200-300 years old and why is this aganda not being driven, spearheaded by POC, perhaps it would get less pushback if it were?

Could there be an argument that current actions could have the exact opposite effect of that intended and cause ill feeling in some quarters?
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I have not read every post, so I apologize in advance if someone has already said the same thing...

Before every birding trip I have ever done, I have the following ritual: once I decide which field guide I'll be using, I go through and mark it up as carefully as possible, puttlng in little check-boxes for species which I have a decent chance to see for the trip. I also mark the ones I have already seen with a checkmark. This makes in nice to study on the plane ride - I can focus on the birds that are relevant, and not bother with ones that are not.

I consult eBird to do this, becasue I can gauge likelihood by looking at the Target Species lists.

And every time I do this, I always run across plenty of names in eBird which of course are not in the book, and then I google around and figure out what the names were, and how it was split, or renamed, or whatever, and I literally pencil all this in to the book. This has never, ever, not happened.

My point here is that every single field guide becomes out-of-date in very short order, even without this likely impending end to honorific names. To use this as a reason to refrain from changing names seems totally silly to me. For all the talk about stability in names, there seems to be little history in that ever being the case. Poor, lovely name of recent lore, was Dendroica... (sounds like a good idea for a poem, hmmmm.)

I dislike honorific names for bird species because they are non-descriptive. Don't need any other reason. Even if every bird was named for the kindest, most universally beloved, most humanitarian heroes, I'd still consider them terrible, stupid names. We have a little something in the English language called clarity. Let's try to use it best we can.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I dislike honorific names for bird species because they are non-descriptive. Don't need any other reason. Even if every bird was named for the kindest, most universally beloved, most humanitarian heroes, I'd still consider them terrible, stupid names. We have a little something in the English language called clarity. Let's try to use it best we can.
Arguably, 'clarity' exists alomgside consistency, with the names poeople grew up with, however, most people agree on the substantive point of honorifics, what they object to, are the reasons behind the proposed changes.

Had a scientific body come along and said 'look fellas, we don't think these name are great and we have this list of descriptors to replace them blah, bal', there would have been no issue I don't think, or at least, a lot less.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I suppose I do feel a bit bad for that lonely woman who will lose her bird.... you know, the one that was married to Mr. Charles ("Chuck") Will, before his untimely death.
 

MJB

Well-known member
I'm not sure whether my comment will obscure or clarify the issue, but in the 15 May 2021 issue of New Scientist, there's short item about a newly-discovered ant in Ecuador. Taxonomic expert Douglas Booher of Yale University was asked by Philip Hoenie, the discoverer, of Darmstadt Technical University, to confirm its taxonomic status. I quote from the article:

"Traditionally, when naming a species after a person, one of two distinct genders are** reflected by using the suffixes "-ae" for women and "-i" for men. Instead, Booher suggested using the non-binary identifier "they", naming the ant Strunigenys ayersthey, after artist and human rights activist Jeremy Ayers."

Ayers identified as gay, was a protégé of Andy Warhol, and his drag act (Silva Thinn) was a take on Warhol's 'Silva Thin', a unique polaroid print mounted on board (source: Christie's).

Ayers died in 2016. Booher also asked Michael Stipe, the leader singer of R.E.M. and a mutual friend with Ayers, to join him in writing the etymology section of the paper outlining the new species: ZooKeys doi.org/gbk7.

Revolution? (No, not the Beatles song, but the lyrics do fit quite well.) I'll await any splenetic spluttering...😮😮😮
MJB
** "..one of two genders is..."
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I'm not sure whether my comment will obscure or clarify the issue, but in the 15 May 2021 issue of New Scientist, there's short item about a newly-discovered ant in Ecuador. Taxonomic expert Douglas Booher of Yale University was asked by Philip Hoenie, the discoverer, of Darmstadt Technical University, to confirm its taxonomic status. I quote from the article:

"Traditionally, when naming a species after a person, one of two distinct genders are** reflected by using the suffixes "-ae" for women and "-i" for men. Instead, Booher suggested using the non-binary identifier "they", naming the ant Strunigenys ayersthey, after artist and human rights activist Jeremy Ayers."

Ayers identified as gay, was a protégé of Andy Warhol, and his drag act (Silva Thinn) was a take on Warhol's 'Silva Thin', a unique polaroid print mounted on board (source: Christie's).

Ayers died in 2016. Booher also asked Michael Stipe, the leader singer of R.E.M. and a mutual friend with Ayers, to join him in writing the etymology section of the paper outlining the new species: ZooKeys doi.org/gbk7.

Revolution? (No, not the Beatles song, but the lyrics do fit quite well.) I'll await any splenetic spluttering...😮😮😮
MJB
** "..one of two genders is..."
More and more ridiculous IMHO.
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
I'm not sure whether my comment will obscure or clarify the issue, but in the 15 May 2021 issue of New Scientist, there's short item about a newly-discovered ant in Ecuador. Taxonomic expert Douglas Booher of Yale University was asked by Philip Hoenie, the discoverer, of Darmstadt Technical University, to confirm its taxonomic status. I quote from the article:

"Traditionally, when naming a species after a person, one of two distinct genders are** reflected by using the suffixes "-ae" for women and "-i" for men. Instead, Booher suggested using the non-binary identifier "they", naming the ant Strunigenys ayersthey, after artist and human rights activist Jeremy Ayers."

Ayers identified as gay, was a protégé of Andy Warhol, and his drag act (Silva Thinn) was a take on Warhol's 'Silva Thin', a unique polaroid print mounted on board (source: Christie's).

Ayers died in 2016. Booher also asked Michael Stipe, the leader singer of R.E.M. and a mutual friend with Ayers, to join him in writing the etymology section of the paper outlining the new species: ZooKeys doi.org/gbk7.

Revolution? (No, not the Beatles song, but the lyrics do fit quite well.) I'll await any splenetic spluttering...😮😮😮
MJB
** "..one of two genders is..."
I see no issue with this - if they are proposing the name to honour a certain person, then the suffix should reflect that person.
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
May be of interest:
To be honest, I don't care if they do or don't change the names of birds that honor past racists. I personally think some of the names that people want removed are pretty ridiculous, like Audubon. Audubon was racist, that is clear, but most people were at that time, and Audubon never performed any horrible acts of racism like Scott. All people have problems and imperfections. What societal issues will people in 200 years look back on as atrocious and want our names cancelled? However, I have no problem removing Scott's name, he oversaw a huge act of evil. But mostly I remember Scott as the general who fought the Mexican War.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
"Traditionally, when naming a species after a person, one of two distinct genders are** reflected by using the suffixes "-ae" for women and "-i" for men. Instead, Booher suggested using the non-binary identifier "they", naming the ant Strunigenys ayersthey, after artist and human rights activist Jeremy Ayers."
I must admit I find the use of plural forms to identify non-binary-identifying individual people somewhat hard to get my head around, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it....however, this is I think a step too far.

While I have no opinion on gender identity, I do think grammar pedants have rights too! On what planet is 'they' a legitimate ending for a specific epithet? I have zero knowledge of Latin other than what I've picked up from scientific names, but wouldn't a neuter plural ending do the same job without adding a totally incongruous English word? Interested to know from any Latin scholars on here what that might be.
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
I must admit I find the use of plural forms to identify non-binary-identifying individual people somewhat hard to get my head around, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it....however, this is I think a step too far.

While I have no opinion on gender identity, I do think grammar pedants have rights too! On what planet is 'they' a legitimate ending for a specific epithet? I have zero knowledge of Latin other than what I've picked up from scientific names, but wouldn't a neuter plural ending do the same job without adding a totally incongruous English word? Interested to know from any Latin scholars on here what that might be.
It's another step of modern society trashing any sort of laws or authority. Break grammar rules, deny natural laws (since you can't break them), throw governmental and moral laws down the toilet. Then you can live however you freaking want (though of course must have strong government to control those who disagree with you). Of course you could just believe that reality doesn't exist and so there are no laws, moral or physical, as do post-modernist "thinkers". Rant over
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Because some of them already had British last names as early as the 18th century through intermarriage or name changes.
Many leaders in the early 19th century had very "civilised" names:
Many groups also saw the adoption of English names as a way to assimilate better, as assimilation was seen to be necessary in order to keep their lands and freedoms. Didn't work obviously, at least on a major scale.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
It's another step of modern society trashing any sort of laws or authority. Break grammar rules, deny natural laws (since you can't break them), throw governmental and moral laws down the toilet. Then you can live however you freaking want (though of course must have strong government to control those who disagree with you). Of course you could just believe that reality doesn't exist and so there are no laws, moral or physical, as do post-modernist "thinkers". Rant over
Dare I even ask what you refer to when you speak of natural laws? Speaking as a biologist, biology really doesn't have any, at least above the molecular level.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
The Cherokee are an interesting example because they also had African slaves (now the "Cherokee freedmen"), which (as you can read in the article) has had its own implications. People are people!
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
Dare I even ask what you refer to when you speak of natural laws? Speaking as a biologist, biology really doesn't have any, at least above the molecular level.
I'm speaking of things that always happen a certain way, like the laws of physics and chemistry. What about laws of genetics, the law of biogenesis, etc? I guess I'm partly talking about just the general trashing of science in today's culture, disregarding clear evidence and opposing views.
 

Mono

Hi!
Staff member
Supporter
Europe
I'm speaking of things that always happen a certain way, like the laws of physics and chemistry. What about laws of genetics, the law of biogenesis, etc? I guess I'm partly talking about just the general trashing of science in today's culture, disregarding clear evidence and opposing views.
An example?
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
An example?
The scientific method has been thrown out the window. Instead of trying to find problems in one's hypothesis or theory, many scientists cherry-pick the evidence that fits their theory and hide what disagrees. Those who try to point out conflicting evidence are called anti-science and are ridiculed and even silenced.
Cancel Culture in Science – CEH I'm now waiting for the religious tirade of atheistic dogma about to descend in response to this article.
 
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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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