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Re: The Name Game

  • Subject: Re: The Name Game
  • From: "Ron Iles" <roniles@eircom.net>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 23:58:24 -0500 (CDT)


It really is so good to see people being so kind & respectful to each other,
rigorously debating, friendly, not really fighting at all. I have learned so
much as am European in the ten or so weeks that I have been privileged to be
an IAS Member.  One is very conscious that there are a large of people in
AroidL to thank who are distinguished experts because they give us their
experience so freely & patiently.

Never being partisan or psychophant, thank you Jay for wide vison balance in
this long & to me sometimes worrying discourse.   I will have a lot to
meditate upon what I learn.  Joe Wright & John Banta in Florida got their
News yesterday the day after Ireland.

Thanks Folks!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jay Vannini" <interbnk@terra.com.gt>
To: "Multiple recipients of list AROID-L" <aroid-l@mobot.org>
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 10:56 PM
Subject: The Name Game

| Greetings, all!
| Wow - as Ron Iles notes, the debate over the flux in botanical
| has been remarkably civil thus far, given the depth of the "line in the
| sand" that has been drawn by the parties.
| And, albeit mixing my metaphors - time to muddy the waters...
| I tend to side with those who argue for "proper" (given our state of
| knowledge at any given time) placement of a species, taxonomically
| even if it does irk the public. Knowing that the Brazilian "Laelia" aren't
| "Laelia" at all, but rather Sophronitis sure helps me to sleep better at
| night (Note to Lord Wilbert: Please don't have me kicked off the forum for
| using a taxonomically-challenged orchid group as an example here). Anyone
| who has had the good fortune to meet biologist colleagues who share an
| interest, yet not a language, knows that the Latin & Greek binomials
| are the great unifiers. I, for one, would hate to have to learn all the
| world's endangered species' common names in the principal languages in
| to enhance a "sign language & smile" conversation with a fellow natural
| resources conservation aficionado at a conference!
| In all fairness to the Philodendron 'Nice Legs' and Dieffenbachia
| 'Whoop-de-Doo' crowd, the horticultural trade has to deal with the lowest
| common denominator - I can't imagine that you can expect the average
| hausfrau in Denver or Leeds to keep abreast of Drs. Boyce & Hetterscheid's
| pronouncements when they go to buy something green for that empty space
| above the kitchen sink. You know, the one in the faux bay window
| the neighbor's Volvo.
| It is obvious to even the most casual observer that "new" species, greater
| knowledge, and new tools and techniques continually give us a much better
| feel for any given organism's genetic relationship to others within the
| imperfect) Linnaean framework. Gross external morphology alone is
| not the best way to identify things and those giddy guys & gals in white
| coats are ever searching for new ways to skin the cat. The end result may
| turn conventional wisdom on its head and, admittedly, rub some people the
| wrong way, but that's Life. Joking aside, I don't believe that any bona
| researcher ever "splits", "sinks" or "lumps" species in an arbitrary or
| frivolous manner, however it may seem to outsiders. Anyone who has ever
| taken a close look at little-known species complexes in the tropics,
| particularly those that involve undescribed  taxa, knows the challenge of
| trying to fit the pieces together properly and (oops!) the risks of
| assembling them in what ultimately is shown to be the wrong way.
| as a layperson, I find all this fascinating, even though I share the
| frustration of those who "blink" and find that their favorite beast or
| blossom has somehow changed genera on them.
| Units of measure, Betsy? I think that everyone in the opposing camps looks
| at the metric vs standard debate in the context of a GREAT quote from
| Anatole France regarding foolish things.
| As for "Golden Pothos" - nothing here that a judicious shot o'
| won't solve...
| Peace -
| Jay

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