Re: Unknown 132 (large-leaved aroids)

On Tue, 8 Jul 1997, Steve Marak wrote:

> On Tue, 8 Jul 1997, eduardo gomes goncalves wrote:
> > On Mon, 7 Jul 1997, Steve Marak wrote:
> > 
> > > Eduardo, Clarence, Julius, and Dick all agree that Unknown 132 is
> > > Xanthosoma violacea...
> > 
> > I disagree... The unknown 132 is a Xanthosoma violaceum!!!!  (Let's keep 
> > our botanical Latin sharp)  ;-)
> > 
> > Best Wishes,
> > 
> > Eduardo. 
> > 
> > 
> Since I follow the TAXACOM list and therefore know that even the simplest
> question can start a debate among taxonomists and systematists that rages
> on for weeks, I hesitate to ask ... but still ...
> Given the number of times I have seen specific endings change to match
> changes in genera, or corrections of specific endings - such as Smilacena
> racemosa, which became Maianthemum racemosum (and S. stellata, now M.
> stellatum), what is special about the naming in Xanthosoma what the name
> should be X. violaceum rather than X. violacea? I seem to recall someone
> being taken to task on another list recently for *not* automatically
> making such an ending-change.
> Since this question involves botanical Latin, perhaps I should ask for
> only the first 1,000 opinions! (Yes, that's a joke.)
> Curious rather than doubting,
> Steve
> -- Steve Marak
> --

Dear Steve,

     Some questions in Botanical Latin can be quite dubious, because it is 
a "dead language" and no human culture (although botanists and the Pope) 
use it no more. Meanwhile, this question is very easy to reply. Xanthosoma 
is a greek name that means "yellow body" (reffering to some species with 
yellow tubers), an it is a neuter name. In Latin, you have neuter, male 
and female names and the adjective must to agree with them. Usually, 
neuter names agree with the ending "", females names agree with the 
ending "...a" and male names agree with the ending "". As Xanthosoma 
is a neuter name (like all words ending with the greek suffixe "soma") 
you have to use the specific name "violaceum". If it was a Latin name, 
the correct name should be "violacea", because most Latin words ending in 
"a" are female, but this isn't the case here. Xanthosoma is neuter and 
must to agree with violaceum, or sagittifolium or helleborifolium and 
that's all. 

I (sincerely) hope it helps,


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