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Poll - Do you agree or disagree with the AOS's recent decision to abandon the use of eponymous bird names? (4 Viewers)

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

  • Agree

    Votes: 93 25.7%
  • Disagree

    Votes: 215 59.4%
  • No strong feelings either way.

    Votes: 49 13.5%
  • Don't know, need more information

    Votes: 5 1.4%

  • Total voters
    362
Paraphrasing:
So what if those names change? If it was bad before, and even if a change isn't any better, it isn't any worse either.
I would understand arguments contra change if there is a reason to believe any non-eponymous name will be much worse, while there is as much, if not more reason to believe that new bird names will be much more relevant in terms of describing range / ID features / sound / habitat of the bird.

I'm not trying to pile on, but others have replied/expanded on this apparent "its not such a big deal" point and this statement is extremely reductive - to the point that I wonder if its facetious.

I think it is a subjective matter that the current proposal of name changes is so different from the "original" or "prior" names that the situation is only marginally comparable. The fact that we have 37 pages of discussion on this shows that its a problematic issue. The outcry and hand-wringing on this is not experienced with the IOC name changes that have taken place over the years, any other taxonomic arrangements, and not when these taxa were first named. The arguments that "well, its not a big deal when names change in other circumstances" undermines (or underlines??) the point - this IS a big deal because this IS different.

It needs to be understood that what is proposed is more than simply swapping one name for another. That has happened before. Improvements on names (whether they be more descriptive, removing an honorary, taxonomic, less offensive, whatever) has happened before. What has not happened before is a wholesale overhaul of the commonly used vocabulary of birding - certainly not to this degree and certainly not for baldly ideological reasons. Any amount of nitpicking and getting into the weeds, while loads of fun, does not change that and should not pretend to be a seminal argument.

To be more specific, the potentially "worse" things about the new names would be the following:
  • a major, ideological or identity-based reason for many not to accept the new names
  • competing bird names, at least on a larger scale
  • a major wholesale change all at once (I recognize there is debate whether this would be "better" or "worse" and that is valid. It is certainly worse from a logistical standpoint at least)
  • an ideological or political basis to how we even communicate about birds - (e.g. do you use the "liberal" or "conservative" bird names? which would your audience prefer)
  • an undermining of authority for major birding organizations (and I must point out -not really based on expertise, but based on opinions and ideology; let's keep it real here!)
  • an undermining of acceptance of avian common names in general or the idea of a single authoritative common name (admittedly, I am in the probable vast minority that does not view this as "worse!")

These are all emergent properties deriving from a wholesale name change as opposed to the unsteady drip that has been occurring for well over a century in modern ornithology. That, plus the disorganized nature of the rollout so far, as some have already mentioned. In other words, there are big differences which are worth paying attention to - regardless of any position on the merits of the names themselves. I would expect these issues to be of great concern to the so-called "Bird Names for Birds" advocates - even more so than to the opposition - because these are some major, even existential, hurdles to their goals.

To be clear, I'm not trying to argue; but every once in awhile I feel the need to distinguish the "big picture" from the "small things." Carry on!
 
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!
I'd better not mention my Wallonian cousins then :ROFLMAO:!

I also live in hope of an armchair jay tick, at least if Brandtii is ever split..
 

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Definitely what this thread has been missing so far is a Reedling-haters sub-thread

No "Long-tailed Bushtit" haters about ? ;) Or do you just not hear this in Britain at all, these days ?

(I can live with "Panure à moustache" in French, although I will definitely call the bird "Mésange" when I meet it in the field. I can't help but finding "Orite à longue queue", literally, horrible.)
 
No "Long-tailed Bushtit" haters about ? ;) Or do you just not hear this in Britain at all, these days ?

(I can live with "Panure à moustache" in French, although I will definitely call the bird "Mésange" when I meet it in the field. I can't help but finding "Orite à longue queue", literally, horrible.)
I've never seen Long-tailed Bushtit written anywhere and certainly never heard it in the field. I had however been wondering why the upheaval specialists thought Bearded Tit needed changing but not Long-tailed Tit. L-t Bushtit doesn't need hating because it's not a thing.

John
 
I've never seen Long-tailed Bushtit written anywhere and certainly never heard it in the field. I had however been wondering why the upheaval specialists thought Bearded Tit needed changing but not Long-tailed Tit. L-t Bushtit doesn't need hating because it's not a thing.

E.g.: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds
(The spread of "Orite" in French for this bird is a quite recent thing.)
 
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That's all opinion, and that's fine (opinions can be very valid, nothing said about that).

Fact is that bird names can be given by a committee and that's the AOS. If you think that's arrogant, form your own committee.
With regards to the birding credentials of 'any of the BN4B mob', I didn't know you would have to have birding credentials and to what degree. That all sounds a bit.... elitarist.

But here we go:
BN4B Roles:

Jordan E. Rutter (she/her) = director of communication at the American Bird Conservancy. No idea about her birding credentials
Initiative Co-founder
Gabriel Foley (he/him) = Atlas coordinator for the Maryland & DC Breeding bird atlas
Initiative Co-founder
Jessica “Jess” McLaughlin (she/they) = post doc in biology, self-proclaimed bird nerd.
Historical biographies project co-lead
Alex Holt (he/they) = seems to be an artist (drawing e.g. birds), no other info.
Historical biographies project co-lead

Anyways, if we only allow people with birding credentials to name birds (or to enter this discussion), I'd like all of you to introduce yourself and mention your birding credentials before we discuss any further! :)
Any organisation that uses gender pronouns in publicity materials, will immediately get my hackles up, society gone nuts and the sad thing is, it's contagious.
 
Well logic is universal, as are facts. Am I arrogant enough to say my opinion is equivalent to logic and facts? Absolutely not. But I do believe my opinion is logical and factual, or else I wouldn't hold it. Someone's opinion is right (I obviously think mine is right, you think yours is right, the AOS thinks theirs is right, etc.), so I really don't have a clue what your point is.

What is "facts" is highly subjective outside, in particular when it comes to social questions. "Logical" conclusions depend on what your premises are, so even when applying equally sound logic, people can arrive at different conclusions.

I was specifically reacting to your statement that a change needs a demonstration of superiority over status quo, which simply isn't a generally accepted truth, it's just the conservative worldview. We are doing so much dumb nonsense just because it's status quo, to the point where we should question anything that we do just to see if we have a reason to do it other than status quo - what's more, we should stop and consider whether we would have chosen this if we were to start anew. I believe that if people did that more, a lot would change, because there is so much obsolete baggage in human behavior.

So if we sat down right now, without any regard for the convenience of continuity, would we start naming birds after people? I highly doubt it, so why are we doing it?
 
What is "facts" is highly subjective outside, in particular when it comes to social questions. "Logical" conclusions depend on what your premises are, so even when applying equally sound logic, people can arrive at different conclusions.

I was specifically reacting to your statement that a change needs a demonstration of superiority over status quo, which simply isn't a generally accepted truth, it's just the conservative worldview. We are doing so much dumb nonsense just because it's status quo, to the point where we should question anything that we do just to see if we have a reason to do it other than status quo - what's more, we should stop and consider whether we would have chosen this if we were to start anew. I believe that if people did that more, a lot would change, because there is so much obsolete baggage in human behavior.

So if we sat down right now, without any regard for the convenience of continuity, would we start naming birds after people? I highly doubt it, so why are we doing it?
Eponyms have been very popular for scientific names for many recently described species. Some of these also have eponymous English names (Parker's Antbird, Ainley's Storm-Petrel, Chico's Tyrannulet just off the top of my head). The reasons for using eponymous names hasn't changed; ornithologists want to honor those people that have made great contributions to our science. I see little evidence that eponyms would be less popular now.
 
Eponyms have been very popular for scientific names for many recently described species. Some of these also have eponymous English names (Parker's Antbird, Ainley's Storm-Petrel, Chico's Tyrannulet just off the top of my head). The reasons for using eponymous names hasn't changed; ornithologists want to honor those people that have made great contributions to our science. I see little evidence that eponyms would be less popular now.

They are also very popular in other orders and in respect of other orders, changing and differing vernacular names (eg micromoths, dragonflies, ladybirds, etc) provide concrete examples of barriers to communication and recording that I have personally witnessed. In contrast, the names in the attached book have been remarkably stable despite claims to the contrary.

I really enjoyed the stab at Tragopan renaming. Hats off for giving it a go. In contrast, we have no idea what they envisage for Franklin's Gull, Bendire's Thrasher, etc. 👍

That said. I suspect that barriers for entry for beginners and diversity may not be solved by renaming Tragopans. 😀

I have still given up & remain disinterested. Honest.

All the best

Paul
 

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We are doing so much dumb nonsense just because it's status quo
If it's demonstrably nonsensical, then there is a case for change.
we should question anything that we do just to see if we have a reason to do it other than status quo - what's more, we should stop and consider whether we would have chosen this if we were to start anew
And what you are describing here, is still predicated on making a case for change. If we have a reason to do it other than status quo, then we have indeed made a case for change. I don't see anything here in opposition to my original point. There is no inherent good in change, thus change for no reason is unreasonable.
So if we sat down right now, without any regard for the convenience of continuity, would we start naming birds after people? I highly doubt it, so why are we doing it?
You've already said it: for continuity (meaning stability and ease of communication). In absence of any demonstrable benefits of change, isn't that enough of a reason?
 
Eponyms have been very popular for scientific names for many recently described species. Some of these also have eponymous English names (Parker's Antbird, Ainley's Storm-Petrel, Chico's Tyrannulet just off the top of my head). The reasons for using eponymous names hasn't changed; ornithologists want to honor those people that have made great contributions to our science. I see little evidence that eponyms would be less popular now.
I think Opisska's point is that if birds had never been named after people before now, would people be doing so?
 
I think Opisska's point is that if birds had never been named after people before now, would people be doing so?

In the absence of towns, countries, states, buildings, mammals, reptiles, earwigs, fish, amphibians, moths, lakes, waterfalls, etc, etc, etc being named after people? Or on the basis of nothing ever being named after a person? Why would birds be any different? People decided to do it once. They would decide to do it again. There is an element here where I think most people like things whether living or not being named after other people. It provides some degree of personal connection and indeed comfort generally when we all realise deep down that our time is fleeting and in reality, we are all overwhelmingly insignificant.

It struck me last night that the AOS sub-committee and AOS Council meetings were probably like the scene in Notting Hill where they were all convincing themselves that William Thacker's decision to ignore Anna Scott was the right decision. It was just that Spike never came into the room and delivered the momentous line 'you daft pr@ck'.... :)

More seriously, for me, notwithstanding my best efforts to convince myself otherwise and despite not being attached to the logic of eponyms, I remain of the view that this is group think. That is illustrated by a refusal actually to analyse and isolate offensive eponyms. It is illustrated by a failure to engage internationally and to plan a more far-reaching approach. It is illustrated by the lack of convincing output or example new names or convincing ideas or guidelines.

But they currently have their fingers in their ears and are now probably convincing themselves that they are the victims. I have seen many organisations behave similarly in similar situations.

All the best

Paul
 
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