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Fall Fund Drive

DRAFT/ Bug Latin

Scientific names are mostly in Latin or in a Latin version of Greek. Grammatically, they're usually made up of a noun (the genus name), and an adjective (the species name or specific epithet) that describes (the technical term is modifies) the noun. Nouns are masculine, feminine, or neuter in gender and can be either singular or plural in number. The adjectives match (agree with) the noun they refer to in gender and number(Some species names are nouns themselves, in which case they don't agree with the genus name)
Examples:
Tipula fuliginosa (f.)
Satyrium fuliginosum (n.)
Chrysops fuliginosus (m.)
Most scientific names are in the nominative case, the same as the subject of a sentence. Some species names, however, are in the genitive case- which is like English nouns ending in -'s or with of in front of them.
Genitive adjectives agree in gender and number with their possessor, not with their noun. One important use in bug names: host-specific parasites or predators are often named after their host, using the genitive (Example: Acronicta betulae, [Acronicta] of birch, from Betula- birch). The main use, though, is when species are named after someone: the species name consists of the name with a genitive ending (Example: Araneus iviei, [Araneus] of Ivie or Ivie's [Araneus], after a scientist named Ivie).
 
Traditional grammars classify nouns and adjectives using a numbered system of declensions, which are groups having basically the same pattern of endings. I prefer talking about stems: if you could take the ending off of a word, the stem is what you'd have left. Of course, endings change the stem they're added to, so it's partly a guess what the stems would be like without them (the stem is easiest to see in the genitive case, so names of larger groups are based on the genitive forms).
The end of a stem usually determines what the endings added to them are like, so I'm going to refer to nouns or adjectives as a-stems, o-stems, etc. according to what the stem is believed to end with.
 
 
a-stems These are mostly feminine, but Greek nouns with ma-stems are neuter, and there are other exceptions
 
 
Latin
nominative singular
(m.f.)-a
genitive singular
(m.f.)-ae
genitive plural
(m.f.)-arum
 
Greek
nominative singular
(m.)-as or -es (long e)
(f.)-a or -e (long e)
(n.)-a
genitive singular
(m.)-ou
(f.)-ai
genitive plural
(m.f.)-on (long o)
 
 
o-stems These are mostly masculine or neuter as nouns, with rare exceptions. Adjectives use o-endings when masculine or neuter (and in those instance a-stem endings only, when feminine). This o changed to u in Latin when it was in the last syllable of a word.
 
 
Latin
nominative singular
(m.f.)-us
(n.)-um
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-i
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-orum
 
Greek
nominative singular
(m.f.)-os
(n.)-on
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-ou
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-on (long o)
 
 
i-stems
 
 
nominative singular
(m.f.)-is
(n.)-e
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-
 
Greek
nominative singular
(m.f.)-
(n.)-
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-
 
 
r-stems
 
 
nominative singular
(m.n.)-[vowel]r
(f.)-ra
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-us
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-
 
Greek
nominative singular
(m.f.)-
(n.)-
genitive singular
(m.f.n.)-
genitive plural
(m.f.n.)-
 
 
Other consonant stems
b + s becomes ps
b + t becomes pt
c + s becomes x
Sphex vs. Specidae d + s becomes s
Aphis vs. Aphididae d + t becomes t
g + s becomes x
Sphinx vs. Sphingidae
g + t becomes ct
s between vowels sometimes becomes r
Genus vs. genera
t + s becomes s n-stems

nice start
Maybe some verbiage on place names would also be in order; e.g.
Monochamus carolinensis, Dichotomius carolinus, or Megacephala carolina.

The ICZN, especially Chapter 7: Formation and treatment of names,
article 31 should also be consulted.

 
Place names
Yes, as you have noticed, place names are often followed with -ensis, -anus, and, rarely as in the case of carolinus, just -us (but that was a misnomer).
They typically mean "from" or "inhabitant of". So, we get arizonensis, apacheanus, carlinianus, utahensis, and bigbendensis. There was a scorpion that was going to be named tamazunchaleensis after Tamazunchale in southern Mexico, but it was nixed.

In the case of -us, I agree that the ICZN should promote stability, and I think that usage has been discontinued but the names can't be changed to follow proper Latin or Greek. Such was the case recently with a scorpion originally named Hadrurus concolorous Stahnke. It was changed to concolor in Catalog of the Scorpions of the World (Fet et al. 2000) but subsequently reverted due to original intention or something like that, stating it was essentially wrong to change it to concolor just because it was "an English adverb".

My all-time favorite place name is for a solpugid in east-central California, inyoanus.

Check out this website for some real winners!
Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature.

Kari J McWest, Canyon, Texas

 
and ... ICZN information
Yes, there is a difference between "justified" and "unjustified" emendations [ICZN article 33.2 Emendations] especially when it alters long accepted useage. The current edition of the Code has clarified many of these problems.

The ICZN should also be consulted because even though modern authors are required to detail the derivation (and gender) of proposed taxa - this wasn't always the case. This can be a problem when a name could be either a noun or an adjective. The gender of the genus Geotrupes ("geos" - Greek for earth and "trypetes" - Greek for borer) is another example; it was variously interpreted - the ICZN had to settle this one.

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 1956. Direction 46, Determination of the gender attributable to the generic names Acheta Linn., 1758 (Class Insecta, Order Orthoptera) and Geotrupes Latreille, 1796 (Class Insecta, Order Coleoptera), Opinions and Declarations of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 12(24):433-440. [Change from ruling in Opinions 299 and 346, respectively]

Another interesting case is when authors use Latin nouns, but with a modern sensibility, like Collagenus - recently proposed genus for a group of Scarabs with 'enlarged lips'.

finally, from the current edition of the code; *my comments*

"11.8. Genus-group names.

11.8. Genus-group names. A genus-group name (see also Article 10.3) must be a word of two or more letters and must be, or be treated as, a noun in the nominative singular.

11.8.1. A genus-group name proposed in Latin text but written otherwise than in the nominative singular because of the requirements of Latin grammar is available, provided that it meets the other requirements of availability, but it is to be corrected to the nominative singular.

Example. The generic name Diplotoxa (Diptera) was proposed by Loew (1863) in a note under "Chlorops versicolor nov. sp." as follows: "Chlor. versicolor cum similibus proprium genus ... constituit, cui nomen Diplotoxae propono" [Chlor. versicolor and similar species constitute a separate genus, for which I propose the name of Diplotoxa].

11.9. Species-group names.

11.9.1. A species-group name must be a word of two or more letters, or a compound word (see Article 11.9.5), and, if a Latin or latinized word must be, or be treated as,

11.9.1.1. an adjective or participle in the nominative singular (as in Echinus esculentus, Felis marmorata, Seioptera vibrans), or

*esculentus is Latin for edible, so Echinus esculentus is a sea urchin that can be eaten. marmoreus is Latin for like marble, hence the Felis marmorata is the marbled cat. Adjectives for color (like viridis), size (gigantea) or distinguishing character are common. Ending must match gender of genus.*

11.9.1.2. a noun in the nominative singular standing in apposition to the generic name (as in Struthio camelus, Cercopithecus diana), or

*Struthio camelus, the Ostrich, was refered to as the Camel Sparrow - 'long necked bird' by the Greeks. Cercopithecus diana, the Diana monkey has a crescent-shaped browband which was thought to resemble the bow of the goddess Diana. Ending remains unchanged, doesn't need to agree with genus.*

11.9.1.3. a noun in the genitive case (e.g. rosae, sturionis, thermopylarum, galliae, sanctipauli, sanctaehelenae, cuvieri, merianae, smithorum), or

*A patronym or name in honor of someone ends in '-i' if a man; '-ae' if a female, or '-orum' for a husband and wife like smithorum. Ending remains unchanged, doesn't need to agree with genus.*

11.9.1.4. an adjective used as a substantive in the genitive case and derived from the specific name of an organism with which the animal in question is associated (as in Lernaeocera lusci, a copepod parasitic on Trisopterus luscus).

*Ending remains unchanged, doesn't need to agree with genus.*

11.9.2. An adjectival species-group name proposed in Latin text but written otherwise than in the nominative singular because of the requirements of Latin grammar is available provided that it meets the other requirements of availability, but it is to be corrected to the nominative singular if necessary.

Example. Accompanying his treatment of the species Musca grossa and M. tremula, Illiger (1807) described a new fly stating "... species occurrit, Grossae et Tremulae intermedia ... quam Pavidam nuncupamus" [there is a species intermediate between M. grossa and M. tremula, which is here called pavida]. The specific name published in the accusative case as pavidam is corrected to the nominative pavida."

*Note: the code treats ranks as 'groups'; Family-group names (family, subfamily, tribe, etc.), Genus-group names (genus, subgenus) as well as species-group names (species or subspecies).

Take heart - many websites available with help on Latin grammar.*

singular of insect orders
I like to comment on the use of singulars like
Dipteran, Coleopteran, Hymenopteran etc. which are linguistic abominations.
The linguistic correct Greek use of an individual insect specimen
would be a
Dipteron, Coleopteron, Hymenopteron.

 
-pteran endings
Those aren't Greek at all- they're English adjectives derived by adding -n to the order name along the same lines as Philadelphian from Philadelphia. They really mean "a member of the order ...ptera," not "a ...wing." Think about the clash in number implicit in Dipteron (di=two, pteron=wing [singular])

 
Diptera
Diptera = 2 wings in Greek, not English.

 
Dipteron
My point is that Dipteran is fine as English, while Dipteron is either bad Greek or bad English, but not good anything

Pretty cool, here's an addition or two
The way I learned latin and taxonomy, I pronounce patronyms by saying the individuals name and add "eye", like duboisi (a cichlid fish) wherein the patronym honors DuBois, pronounced Dew-Bwah, and add z (as is done in French pronunciation) and "eye". "Dew-Bwah-zi". Or, like something might be named for George Harrison, harrisoni, instead of Harris-OH-knee, it should be harrison-eye. Same for matronyms, except I learned that "ae" is pronounced "ee", as in vogelae, VO-gel-ee, for Bea Vogel.

'Nuther thing: -icola (like agricola [farmer]or lapidicola [rock dweller]) is masculine.

But also in pronounciation there are those exceptions that have come out of continued usage, such as the scorpion family and genus Vaejovidae/Vaejovis. They SHOULD be pronounced vee-YHOH-vi-dee and vee-YHOH-viss, but we all say Vej(like hedge)-OH-vi-dee and VEJ-uh-viss...go figure ;-)

Great to have this as an article!

Kari J McWest, Canyon, Texas

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