t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Thu Mar 6 14:56:46 PST 2008
> And this is precisely why the system of species names was invented.
> Common names are notoriously unreliable and can have multiple
> meanings depending on exactly who is using them.
> I think that this is a problem that will always be faced to some
> extent when dealing with historical sources. There will very likely
> be some doubt as to exactly what plant is meant by a given name if
> there are several possibilities.
Linnean taxonomy was devised to group, classify, and relate individual
organisms, taking some of the confusion out of the preceeding taxonomic
systems found in the herbals. It is secondarily useful in that the system
usually produces a single name for a defined and described organism. There
are competing names and competing taxonomic systems, but there are
mechanisms established to handle the disputes. However, assuming that a
scientific name is fixed can be very interesting when there are competing
taxonomies, as we occasionally have encountered on this list.
Common names are a problem because they may be used to describe multiple
organisma or have been transferred from one organism to another over time.
This is not the case either in the jay/magpie or the haba/garbanzo
discussion. With the jay and magpie, we are concerned with how the Ancient
Greeks and Romans classified these birds and the etymology of the words from
Greek to Latin to modern language. This may require research, but the
answers are almost certainly there. In the case of haba, garbanzo,cow pea,
chickpea, etc., there is no real ambiguity about the meaning, which suggests
that any problems are individual error.
More information about the Sca-cooks