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Poll - Do you agree or disagree with the AOS's recent decision to abandon the use of eponymous bird names? (1 Viewer)

The AOS is proposing to change all English bird names currently named after people. Do you agree?

  • Agree

    Votes: 91 25.6%
  • Disagree

    Votes: 211 59.3%
  • No strong feelings either way.

    Votes: 49 13.8%
  • Don't know, need more information

    Votes: 5 1.4%

  • Total voters
    356
This claim is really misleading, as at least one of those was a change due to a taxonomic lump, not just being erased "for the hell of it".

One name disappeared as the result of a lump indeed. There is no real 'renaming' happening in a split or lump, as the entities that are named in your list before and after the change correspond to different taxonomic concepts. (Even if, to Joe Public, it may seem like the bird in his backyard got 'renamed', this is not really what happens.) It makes sense to expect that using different names for different concepts will help communication. Multiplying the names that are used for the same concept, on the other hand, can only hamper communication.
In the other cases, IOC switched from one existing name (which happened to be eponymous) to another existing name, which was perceived as being in wider use. Nothing was renamed -- no new names were created. None of these changes is remotely comparable to the gratuitous scrapping of a name that has been in universal use for over a century, and is universally understood.
If you do not take splits and lumps into account, the 'constant flux', in which names are supposed to be, is actually very limited -- and has probably been close to zero in N America in recent decades.

I never said they were erased for the hell of it. I only stated it as a FACT that they were erased. I even explicitly said that the IOC has no policy towards erasing (they claim to have a neutral stance), but it's clear those 5 eponyms are gone.

But you only looked at the two last updates. As a matter of fact, there are 832 names with an 's in the last IOC 13.2; there were 767 in the original Gill & Wright list of 2006. The number of eponymous names has been increasing over the last two decades (i.e., eponymous names have been given to taxa being split), not the opposite.
 
It's not my argument, so any response mentioning this when I write something, is distracting.
In which case your arguments aren't relevant to the AOS decision.
It's called pragmatism
Then you must argue for the changing of Mallard, etc. They are just as bad as eponyms according to your logic.
There is no reason not to invent another name, no?
No, there isn't. But that wasn't his point.
I can express myself in 4 more languages with more than a 1000 words in each of them. Recently, my Brazilian local bird guide was able to communicate with me about the 150+ birds we saw in 2 days of birding, by sharing the latin names and checking those in the Merlin app. Every world birder knows the name of 5000+ species and has to re-learn approx. 20-30 English bird names every 6 months. There's a lot of drama over 80 names, it seems.
And how many world listers are there? Beginners are the ones who will be affected by the confusion. And thus the name change may prove to be more of a barrier than any eponym ever was.
You don't 'need' to show the AOS case is faulty. You 'want' to show the AOS case is not your opinion. That's fine
Not sure what your saying here, but anyway, my point was: No case for change is a case for no change.
 
If you do not take splits and lumps into account, the 'constant flux', in which names are supposed to be, is actually very limited -- and has probably been close to zero in N America in recent decades.
But there are splits and lumps, so there is a constant flux.
you're saying: if there wasnt a reason for constant flux, there wouldn't be a constant flux. Stating the obvious, pretty much!

But you only looked at the two last updates. As a matter of fact, there are 832 names with an 's in the last IOC 13.2; there were 767 in the original Gill & Wright list of 2006. The number of eponymous names has been increasing over the last two decades (i.e., eponymous names have been given to taxa being split), not the opposite.
So it only shows that the IOC is very neutral, and it also shows that names are constantly changing (as you said, mostly through splits and lumps), so the actual process / flux of name changing is a given.

The arguments given against the change of a big number of names (on purpose / voluntarily / for reasons given by the AOS ad hoc committee) with regards to the 'stability' of names are thus, as I mentioned several times, very weak.
 
But there are splits and lumps, so there is a constant flux.
you're saying: if there wasnt a reason for constant flux, there wouldn't be a constant flux. Stating the obvious, pretty much!


So it only shows that the IOC is very neutral, and it also shows that names are constantly changing (as you said, mostly through splits and lumps), so the actual process / flux of name changing is a given.

The arguments given against the change of a big number of names (on purpose / voluntarily / for reasons given by the AOS ad hoc committee) with regards to the 'stability' of names are thus, as I mentioned several times, very weak.
Name changes based on splits actually represent something though. It says that the taxonomic grouping that the former name described is no longer recognized. We actually have a reason to destabilize the names then. Destabilization of names because of perceived racism is entirely different
 
Beginners are the ones who will be affected by the confusion. And thus the name change may prove to be more of a barrier than any eponym ever was.
Just one example:

My profile picture is a Tragopan.
There are 5 species in the Tragopan genus: Blyth's, Temminck's, Cabot's, Western, Satyr

1708437254733.png

Suppose we re-name ones with eponyms and, in the process, revise the names for the other 2:
Grey-bellied Tragopan
Buffy Tragopan
Brown-backed Tragopan
Starry night Tragopan
Red-backed Tragopan

You tell me: can you, as a beginner, put the right name under the right Tragopan, with the original names (set with 3 eponyms), and can you do the same with the names I invented in 2 minutes? What do the names, and especially the eponyms say about those birds?
Absolutely nothing. Any beginner will be confused, as the names could have been anything like A-tragopan, B-tragopan, C-Tragopan, D-tragopan and E-tragopan. It wouldn't make a difference.

That's how much a name change can remove barriers.
 
Destabilization of names because of perceived racism is entirely different
Ofcourse it's different.
But the point I am making: the argument in itself that changing names is destabilizing, is void. Because it already happens for other reasons.
 
You tell me: can you, as a beginner, put the right name under the right Tragopan, with the original names (set with 3 eponyms), and can you do the same with the names I invented in 2 minutes? What do the names, and especially the eponyms say about those birds?
Absolutely nothing. Any beginner will be confused, as the names could have been anything like A-tragopan, B-tragopan, C-Tragopan, D-tragopan and E-tragopan. It wouldn't make a difference.
I can get 3 of 5. I couldn't tell you which is Starry Night, and which is Brown-backed. But anyway, for this to work, every bird name in the world would need to describe a feature that is distinctive to that species and aids in ID. I'd guess that would require the renaming of >90% of all birds. Right now, many (most?) "descriptive" names describe features that exist in similar species, or describe features that aren't useful in general. Thus I don't rely on names to tell me anything useful about the bird. For me to trust descriptive names, all misleading ones would need to be removed. And as an aside, some on this forum have stated that eponyms are actually easier to remember for them.

Anyway, my point regarding confusion is that beginners are going to pick up a field guide with the old names, read articles referring to the old names etc. It will hamper communication.
But the point I am making: the argument in itself that changing names is destabilizing, is void
No, because destabilizing names for no reason is quite ridiculous. That's my point.
 
I'm one of those people who find eponyms easier to remember than descriptive names - I also find scientific names of plants easier to remember than English names, especially the relatively recently-concocted names of bryophytes, so maybe I am just odd :) .
Getting away from North America, I can think of several examples where removal of eponyms with descriptive names has added little to the description of the bird. I've mentioned Turdus kessleri earlier I think - Kessler's Thrush to me is way more memorable, retaining the specific epithet, than White-backed Thrush, as it is now known as - it's an accurate but reductionist descriptor of a very distinctive bird. Stoliczka's / now White-browed Tit-warbler is another one - its current English name doesn't go near to describing what a brilliantly coloured little bird it is, and is only really helpful for ID if you happen to be in the area of range overlap with Crested Tit-Warbler.
Anthus hodgsoni, long-known in Britain as Olive-backed Pipit, was listed as Hodgson's Tree Pipit in an old Nepalese bird book I had - to me no worse than a name describing what is not overwhelmingly obvious olive-ness, but describing its propensity to perch in trees and bushes.
And if we're talking about communication with non-English speaking birders, there's even an argument for more eponyms in English names, to attempt some convergence with scientific specific epithets.
 
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no I can't, based on your picture I see two with red on their back and the ones that looks the most like a starry night is the only one with a grey belly or maybe the one with a brownish back
There is only one grey-bellied (Blyth's)
There is only one with a starry-night look (dark with white spots) (Western)
There is one with the brightest red on the back (Temminck's)
There is one buffy (Cabot's)
There is one with a brown back (Satyr)

It's just a 2-minute effort and obviously, I'm the wrong person to give good names in such a short time. You could as well give some names based on the geographical range, e.g. Cabot's occurs mainly in Fuijan (Fuijian Tragopan), Western occurs in the Western Himalayas, Temminck's occurs in the Eastern Himalayas, Satyr occurs mainly in Nepal / Sikkim / Bhutan, and Blyth's is a NE-India job.

I don't want to say that all birds should have descriptive names, just to illustrate in specific cases they can aid ID and 'a grip' on separating birds. I have been struggling for a long time with e.g. woodcreepers in S-America, and names like Zimmer's, Hoffman's, Spix's, Brigida's,... don't help. Neither do Elegant (not more elegant than others), Lesser (not that small), Striped (many are), Chestnut-rumped (hardly ever visible)...
 
There is only one grey-bellied (Blyth's)
There is only one with a starry-night look (dark with white spots) (Western)
There is one with the brightest red on the back (Temminck's)
There is one buffy (Cabot's)
There is one with a brown back (Satyr)
looking at picture the names makes much more sense. My favourite change by far would be Western for Starry night.
 
Just one example:

My profile picture is a Tragopan.
There are 5 species in the Tragopan genus: Blyth's, Temminck's, Cabot's, Western, Satyr

View attachment 1560438

Suppose we re-name ones with eponyms and, in the process, revise the names for the other 2:
Grey-bellied Tragopan
Buffy Tragopan
Brown-backed Tragopan
Starry night Tragopan
Red-backed Tragopan

You tell me: can you, as a beginner, put the right name under the right Tragopan, with the original names (set with 3 eponyms), and can you do the same with the names I invented in 2 minutes? What do the names, and especially the eponyms say about those birds?
Absolutely nothing. Any beginner will be confused, as the names could have been anything like A-tragopan, B-tragopan, C-Tragopan, D-tragopan and E-tragopan. It wouldn't make a difference.

That's how much a name change can remove barriers.
I could possibly get 1 correct, but no definites.
2 or 3 of them could be Red-backed, same for Brown-backed and Grey-bellied. What does Starry night even mean? If you live in an inner city how much of the night sky can you see and how many look up into the night sky? I'm colour blind, so calling them Tragopan A, etc might be preferential. I look at the pattern and shape for ID. Why change them at all if it only brings confusion?

Oh yes, I remember. Because someone who spent decades of their life researching bird species, or did something else positive for the science of ornithology, or one of it's organisations, has a name that may be connected to something, or once said something, that might cause offence to a certain sector, no matter how tenuous that connection is and may cause someone from a minority group to take offence and never pick up a set of binoculars ever again?

Have you ever considered how many African Americans still have slave names? It is not difficult to change your name. Many women change their name on marriage, or people change names when choosing to follow a (new) religion. It happens every day that that particular goverment department is open. So If these names are so offensive, why haven't all people with slave names changed them now that they can? You can use whatever name you like in the US of A as far as I know.
 
Just one example:

My profile picture is a Tragopan.
There are 5 species in the Tragopan genus: Blyth's, Temminck's, Cabot's, Western, Satyr

View attachment 1560438

Suppose we re-name ones with eponyms and, in the process, revise the names for the other 2:
Grey-bellied Tragopan
Buffy Tragopan
Brown-backed Tragopan
Starry night Tragopan
Red-backed Tragopan

You tell me: can you, as a beginner, put the right name under the right Tragopan, with the original names (set with 3 eponyms), and can you do the same with the names I invented in 2 minutes? .
Took me about ten seconds to get all. From the replies, however, it seeks some folk have weird ideas of what starry nights look like though 😅
 
These birds already have names, which are being used by millions of people.
Unless you can provide a jolly good reason for a change, no choice remains to be made.
If that reason(ing) behind the name change is jolly good for you, is the question... It seems not.
For me personally, throw whatever name change at me, I don't mind. I may have better things to do than discuss this, like saving the planet and endangered species 🙃
 
Definitely what this thread has been missing so far is a Reedling-haters sub-thread
The day they changed the Dutch name for Eurasian Jay (it was "Flemish Jay") to "Jay" (without the Flemish), my Flemish blood was boiling.
Until I went to Italy and saw a zillion jays every day. I understood Flanders couldn't claim the Jay. Maybe Italy could, but they didn't bother with the Dutch name. Maybe, once the species get finally split, everyone can have his own Jay!
 

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