• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

IOC combines forces w/ NACC, SACC, Cornell, and more to produce "global checklist" (1 Viewer)

thomasdonegan

Former amateur ornithologist
It's predictable but rather depressing to see the focus here again on the parochial issue of English names.

This is quite an important initiative and hopefully should reduce taxonomic confusion and increase collaboration.

If criticism can help make things better, one thing that there is some noise on social media about (in these days of pro-diversity), and which has been overlooked here - is the unanimously US/European base of the participants (with one token Aussie?) and its mostly white-male-orientation.

To form a good global checklist requires diverse inputs and participation.

That should include taxonomic bodies for Asian, African and South American specialists, including local scientists, to feed in taxonomic information (or, better still, involvement of such persons in the main committee bodies). For South America, SACC is here, but this started as, and still largely remains culturally, a North American museum/university scientist-based initiative which has slowly been adding South American members (provided they are graduates of US universities like LSU) and recently had its first female joined, following some criticism of diversity. I am no admirer of SACC - but at least it exists and has local participation! For the two other diverse continents, Asia and Africa, there is no mechanism here to involve local scientists.

As for English conflicts, surely "Black-bellied Plover" (US) is way better than "Grey" (UK). And "Great Northern Diver" (UK) is miles better than the insulting "Common Loon" (US). Hopefully this committee can either pick the best, or, as I have previously asked of SACC and failed (as above, they are a US vehicle which promotes US names only) in relation to Sand Martin/Bank Swallow, adopt both entrenched names as alternates. This is a triviality though surely, compared to other issues?

Thomas
 
Last edited:

jurek

Well-known member
Frankly speaking, the premise is completely wrong. Even if it is charming. :-O

Species and their relations are not agreed upon, but are facts which are discovered. There should be different opinions.

Names are not creations which are centrally introduced, but products of evolution of communication. Names of birds used in real language will be different. Created names will be a fake official language.

English language is not owned nor created by English or Americans, but is a global common language. Most users are neither English nor American, and speak English as a second or third language.

The whole idea of 'a central bird list' and 'standard names' would be best fitting if there was a central sport competition of watching birds, and it would need a common scoring system.
 
Last edited:

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I'll just throw this out: A) Many animals lack completely common names - see many tropical herps. and B) some checklists, such as mammal ones, have zero problem listing multiple common names for a given species.

So yeah, obsessing over common names in a new checklist seems a bizarre fixation, when I would be more concerned about how species concepts will be applied.
 

Snapdragyn

Well-known member
Well I am not trying to do anything to the English names, I am just saying I don't care, how does that hurt you? I would however be a bit upset if it turns out that the English name debate jeopardizes the convergence on the underlying checklist. Personally, I don't really see why there couldn't just be multiple versions of English nomenclature anyway - there are as many versions as there are other languages, couldn't it be just declared that US and UK English are functionally separate languages and have each of them have their own names?

That bit you quote from Andy is exactly the reason I put him on ignore - nativism is just a 'polite' word for racism. My feed is so much nicer without his ugly tripe littering it; I'd suggest you give it a try as well.
 

thomasdonegan

Former amateur ornithologist
What I do think is silly is believing that taxonomy is an empirical science working towards an objectively correct fixed end-point, and that a single unified global body will result in a more perfect list. In a world that seems fixated on "diversity", it amazes me that anybody is cheering on the loss of diversity of opinion here, and ensuing competition of ideas.

The problem surely, is more that we currently have a whole load of different authorities all purporting to be THE unified global body (Clements, IOC, H&M, BirdLife), which makes ornithology seem like a Pythonesque pursuit - the People's Front of Judea vs the Judean People's Front etc. etc., all disagreeing with each other. Bird listing need fewer global standards, of higher quality, currency and accuracy.

There isn't even a universally accepted definition of the concept of what is a species, yet here we are looking to have a single authoritative list of all bird species. For all the criticisms levelled at the BLI / HBW taxonomy, some valid, at least it shook things up and made people look more closely at both the process of making taxonomic decisions, and at many individual species-level differences. Without the work of BLI, I don't think IOC would have adopted many of its recent decisions.

This initiative should not stop other people coming up with their own independent or original research. BLI was grown out of frustration with a rotten, lazy, inconsistent and broken system of global taxonomy committees. This looks like a reaction from "the establishment" to BLI's reaction. So we have a new committee with some of the same people currently failing in the disparate PJF / JPF etc -like groups. But it is an attempt to fix the current failures; it involves collaboration which is encourageable and hopefully should be more productive when efforts are combined, and I think we should give them a go at it before prejudging its success.
 
Last edited:

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
That bit you quote from Andy is exactly the reason I put him on ignore - nativism is just a 'polite' word for racism. My feed is so much nicer without his ugly tripe littering it; I'd suggest you give it a try as well.

I cannot think of a greater compliment than to be on your ignore list and as someone who contributes as little as you do to this forum, do you think I worry what you think little man, quit the personal attacks.
 
Last edited:

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
That bit you quote from Andy is exactly the reason I put him on ignore - nativism is just a 'polite' word for racism. My feed is so much nicer without his ugly tripe littering it; I'd suggest you give it a try as well.

I find myself often disagreeing with him, but I try to do so respectfully (usually except when I am mad from something else and stop having the proper restraint but then I later regret it). I think this is not really the place to discuss other posters and I suggest we do not continue in that direction - I just wanted to respond as I have been kinda explicitly addressed and make it clear that I am not willing to follow this suggestion.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I find myself often disagreeing with him, but I try to do so respectfully (usually except when I am mad from something else and stop having the proper restraint but then I later regret it). I think this is not really the place to discuss other posters and I suggest we do not continue in that direction - I just wanted to respond as I have been kinda explicitly addressed and make it clear that I am not willing to follow this suggestion.

Thank you Jan,
I have one poster on my 'ignore' list but would never, suggest that others follow me in doing the same.

It's the same, lame, weak, intolerant, moraly superior, liberal attitude on display again. I've been criticised in the past for pointing out that there is a repeating pattern with a lot of these people in that they are often very low posters, rarely contributing anything at all until they feel offended again, snapy is another one, 228 posts in 13 years.
 
Last edited:

Paul Clapham

Well-known member
As for English conflicts, surely "Black-bellied Plover" (US) is way better than "Grey" (UK). And "Great Northern Diver" (UK) is miles better than the insulting "Common Loon" (US).

One might think so. On the other hand, Common Loon is an iconic bird in Canada and it's on the currency in the form of the "loonie", the one-dollar coin. I don't think anyone here has ever found that insulting; it isn't hard for people to manage two different words in their minds which are spelled and pronounced identically.
 

Paul Clapham

Well-known member
But wait a minute. All of the hand-wringing in this thread is based on the idea that the new World List is going to include a list which provides one English name for each species. But I believe that is not the case. If you look at eBird you'll see that you can work with them today in a variety of languages and dialects including for example Argentina Spanish. They are well aware that people in the UK want to have different names than people in North America, but right now their solution to that issue is not the greatest. Likewise IOC provides a spreadsheet with vernacular names in over a dozen languages.

The new list isn't going to be out for a couple of years, remember. I predict that the result of that process is going to include vernacular names for at least US and UK English. Probably a lot of other languages and dialects too -- the data is available and once you go beyond the idea of one single vernacular name then why not provide French and Polish and so on?
 

Dutchbirder64

Well-known member
I am keeping track of my life list species and subspecies in IOC 10.2 but it would be great to have a list with combined effort and names that are unified. Comparing 10.1 to 10.2 you see family names changing and think wtf. Sylvia to Curruca? And it would be great to have software implemented into a new combined list so when there is a new version coming out all your species or subspecies are added into that new version. Now it is not simple copy/paste because species are very often on a different location in the new list.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
But wait a minute. All of the hand-wringing in this thread is based on the idea that the new World List is going to include a list which provides one English name for each species. But I believe that is not the case. If you look at eBird you'll see that you can work with them today in a variety of languages and dialects including for example Argentina Spanish. They are well aware that people in the UK want to have different names than people in North America, but right now their solution to that issue is not the greatest. Likewise IOC provides a spreadsheet with vernacular names in over a dozen languages.

The new list isn't going to be out for a couple of years, remember. I predict that the result of that process is going to include vernacular names for at least US and UK English. Probably a lot of other languages and dialects too -- the data is available and once you go beyond the idea of one single vernacular name then why not provide French and Polish and so on?

That would be great and it would also stop the reccurent threads here which end up in disagreement over names.
 

Kirk Roth

Well-known member
But wait a minute. All of the hand-wringing in this thread is based on the idea that the new World List is going to include a list which provides one English name for each species. But I believe that is not the case. If you look at eBird you'll see that you can work with them today in a variety of languages and dialects including for example Argentina Spanish. They are well aware that people in the UK want to have different names than people in North America, but right now their solution to that issue is not the greatest. Likewise IOC provides a spreadsheet with vernacular names in over a dozen languages.

The new list isn't going to be out for a couple of years, remember. I predict that the result of that process is going to include vernacular names for at least US and UK English. Probably a lot of other languages and dialects too -- the data is available and once you go beyond the idea of one single vernacular name then why not provide French and Polish and so on?

Paul you've hit the nail on the head. To expand on you're point, I'll add that ornithological taxonomy has an interesting culture with regard to common names, especially English ones, in that so many expect common names to repeat the jobs that scientific names do (e.g. one discreet name instead of multiple usages; the names conveying evolutionary relationship; ideas of so-called "priority" and so-called "stability" and so on). As others have mentioned, other taxa seem to have less of an issue with this. But once someone gets past the idea of a common name being more than what people call something in "common language" then a lot of the "hand-wringing" as you call it often melts away nicely. Common language is art, not science. That is why we invented scientific nomenclature in the first place.

I do enjoy having standardized names in ornithology, but I agree that the more enlightened view is that within reason there can be more than one common name without some sort of communication breakdown. I believe that one of the few mistakes IOC has made was not recognizing this, which is why in its earlier days they proposed embarrassments such as the "Great Northern Loon" and the "Roughleg." Rather than trying to "direct" what common names "should" be, isn't it more clear to simply identify the names in use?

There are exceptions of course (there should not be two species with the same name, there should not be names which are overly problematic, and so on) and that is why there are committees to do this work. But I'm hopeful that this new effort, if its truly intended to embrace universality, will take the more enlightened road and save the hand-wringing for more credible problems.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
But wait a minute. All of the hand-wringing in this thread is based on the idea that the new World List is going to include a list which provides one English name for each species. But I believe that is not the case. If you look at eBird you'll see that you can work with them today in a variety of languages and dialects including for example Argentina Spanish. They are well aware that people in the UK want to have different names than people in North America, but right now their solution to that issue is not the greatest. Likewise IOC provides a spreadsheet with vernacular names in over a dozen languages.

The new list isn't going to be out for a couple of years, remember. I predict that the result of that process is going to include vernacular names for at least US and UK English. Probably a lot of other languages and dialects too -- the data is available and once you go beyond the idea of one single vernacular name then why not provide French and Polish and so on?

To support this: Denis Lepage from Avibase is involved in construction of the database. Avibase already contains multiple options of common names, even obscure languages such as Danish.

Niels (myself a Dane)
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Paul you've hit the nail on the head. To expand on you're point, I'll add that ornithological taxonomy has an interesting culture with regard to common names, especially English ones, in that so many expect common names to repeat the jobs that scientific names do (e.g. one discreet name instead of multiple usages; the names conveying evolutionary relationship; ideas of so-called "priority" and so-called "stability" and so on). As others have mentioned, other taxa seem to have less of an issue with this. But once someone gets past the idea of a common name being more than what people call something in "common language" then a lot of the "hand-wringing" as you call it often melts away nicely. Common language is art, not science. That is why we invented scientific nomenclature in the first place.
.

Well put,
so what if something isn't a true Flycatcher, Tit or Warbler, the scientific name and position in the order, make that clear!
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Paul you've hit the nail on the head. To expand on you're point, I'll add that ornithological taxonomy has an interesting culture with regard to common names, especially English ones, in that so many expect common names to repeat the jobs that scientific names do (e.g. one discreet name instead of multiple usages; the names conveying evolutionary relationship; ideas of so-called "priority" and so-called "stability" and so on). As others have mentioned, other taxa seem to have less of an issue with this. But once someone gets past the idea of a common name being more than what people call something in "common language" then a lot of the "hand-wringing" as you call it often melts away nicely. Common language is art, not science. That is why we invented scientific nomenclature in the first place.

I do enjoy having standardized names in ornithology, but I agree that the more enlightened view is that within reason there can be more than one common name without some sort of communication breakdown. I believe that one of the few mistakes IOC has made was not recognizing this, which is why in its earlier days they proposed embarrassments such as the "Great Northern Loon" and the "Roughleg." Rather than trying to "direct" what common names "should" be, isn't it more clear to simply identify the names in use?


The obvious problem with this is that a surprisingly large number of people have a mental block against scientific names. They think it won't be possible for them to learn these "unpronounceable" names, so they don't make the attempt, and it becomes a self-fulfilling act. Combine that with the natural human instinct to believe that shared names mean shared ancestry (even when they don't, like 'warbler'), and you're left with fertile ground for creationists who want to deny any concept of shared ancestry of species.



But wait a minute. All of the hand-wringing in this thread is based on the idea that the new World List is going to include a list which provides one English name for each species. But I believe that is not the case. If you look at eBird you'll see that you can work with them today in a variety of languages and dialects including for example Argentina Spanish. They are well aware that people in the UK want to have different names than people in North America, but right now their solution to that issue is not the greatest. Likewise IOC provides a spreadsheet with vernacular names in over a dozen languages.

The new list isn't going to be out for a couple of years, remember. I predict that the result of that process is going to include vernacular names for at least US and UK English. Probably a lot of other languages and dialects too -- the data is available and once you go beyond the idea of one single vernacular name then why not provide French and Polish and so on?
That would be good to have separate lists of American names and English names. But they need to be so styled; too many Americans believe they "own" the English language, and that their name IS the [one and only] 'English' name, when it isn't the English name at all. So when e.g., a Dane wants to look up the English name for a bird to talk to someone from England, they often end up using an American name without realising it is the wrong name for the context. If American names are clearly called American names, the problem goes away.
 

Kirk Roth

Well-known member
The obvious problem with this is that a surprisingly large number of people have a mental block against scientific names. They think it won't be possible for them to learn these "unpronounceable" names, so they don't make the attempt, and it becomes a self-fulfilling act. Combine that with the natural human instinct to believe that shared names mean shared ancestry (even when they don't, like 'warbler'), and you're left with fertile ground for creationists who want to deny any concept of shared ancestry of species.




That would be good to have separate lists of American names and English names. But they need to be so styled; too many Americans believe they "own" the English language, and that their name IS the [one and only] 'English' name, when it isn't the English name at all. So when e.g., a Dane wants to look up the English name for a bird to talk to someone from England, they often end up using an American name without realising it is the wrong name for the context. If American names are clearly called American names, the problem goes away.

To the first point, and speaking as an American who sees American things like our problem with "creationists," it is not a problem which will be solved or even helped by nomenclature. I've seen exactly zero cases in which any creationist argument was using names of any taxa to argue their lack of relationship. The problem is not that all laypeople need to understand taxonomy, (nor be an expert in any and all other forms of science) but that they need to trust expertise.

I will also add that a great number of people have no problem using Latin dinosaur names, and that usage does practically nothing to teach people dinosaur taxonomy, nor to dissuade the abuse of paleontology for so-called Creationist causes.

To the second point, and also speaking as an American, I also know of zero people over here who believe they "own" the English language - it is called "English" after all (despite the "shared ancestry"). Frankly the only place I've heard such a stance is from people on this forum - all of whom accuse it rather than espouse it. So again, I know of nobody who believes this. However, the piece about non-English speakers looking up English taxa names is well-taken - it would be nice if it were clear to people. Again I hope that the new global checklist effort becomes such a resource.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
One more example of UK and US being "two countries separated by a common language" 3:)

Niels
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
To the first point, and speaking as an American who sees American things like our problem with "creationists," it is not a problem which will be solved or even helped by nomenclature. I've seen exactly zero cases in which any creationist argument was using names of any taxa to argue their lack of relationship. The problem is not that all laypeople need to understand taxonomy, (nor be an expert in any and all other forms of science) but that they need to trust expertise.

I will also add that a great number of people have no problem using Latin dinosaur names, and that usage does practically nothing to teach people dinosaur taxonomy, nor to dissuade the abuse of paleontology for so-called Creationist causes.

Double post
 
Last edited:

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
To the first point, and speaking as an American who sees American things like our problem with "creationists," it is not a problem which will be solved or even helped by nomenclature. I've seen exactly zero cases in which any creationist argument was using names of any taxa to argue their lack of relationship. The problem is not that all laypeople need to understand taxonomy, (nor be an expert in any and all other forms of science) but that they need to trust expertise.

I will also add that a great number of people have no problem using Latin dinosaur names, and that usage does practically nothing to teach people dinosaur taxonomy, nor to dissuade the abuse of paleontology for so-called Creationist causes.

How does mangling and / or Americanising, common names, create 'trust in the experts'and why do ordinary birders, need to understand the often complex relationships between families? Most occasional birders I know, still don't understand that Swifts and Swallows aren't related and often ask why they're not on the same page in the book, they don't care about the complexities in the same way that scientists do and scientists need to realise that.

I'll bet that the average person knows about three Dinosaurs, most would be pushed to go beyond Brontosaurus, Tricerotops and T-rex.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top