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Re: Latin names
- To: Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
- Subject: Re: Latin names
- From: kyle at onebox_com
- Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 13:55:16 -0400
What Bill said is true to the point that a latin name rarely
translates into the english common name. But almost all latin names
have meaning at some level. Just keep in mind that many names are latinized (e.g. people's names, places, a local common name) and not true latin. Some common endings you will see to
specific epithets (the second part of the latin name) are -ii,
-ensis, and -ica.
-ii is the most common suffix used when naming a plant after a person. For example Rotala wallichii is named after Nathanial Wallich, one of the earliest explorers of Indian plants. -ii specifically refers to males, especially to a man who is responsible in some way for discovering the plant or animal(or bringing to peoples attention) but didn't actually describe it (its considered bad form to name a plant after yourself. There is a whole slew of endings for specific epithets named after people (e.g., -iae, -anum, -iana) but the -ii ending is by far the most common. Basically, if it sounds like a person's name with a latin ending, it probably is.
-ensis and -ica are terminations meaning roughly "comes from". Aponogeton madagascariensis is (surprise, surprise) from Madagascar. Likewise Cardinia japonica is from Japan. Of course those are some that are easy to figure out, but it is helpful to know these endings when you get something more obscure like Cycas prachinburiensis (sorry I couldn't think of a aquatic example off the top of my head), which is from prachinburi, a region in central Thailand. While you may not know where the location is, at least you can say it is a location and not worry further about the translation. Again, there are other endings that can indicate a geographic location, but these are the most common.
For true latin words like flava (yellow), palustris (swamp), or vulgaris (common), you will need to find a latin dictionary. I think there is a book out there on common latin words that you would come across in gardening. For the really hardcore types get "Botanical Latin" by Stearns. Its a thick book with more than you ever wanted to know about latin in reference to plants. Keep in mind it is written for a professional botanist audience, but if you can wade through it, it is very informative. Its not just a dictionary, it also teaches you how to write botanical descriptions, with grammar, in latin.
Hope this helps!
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 20:07:01 -0500
From: "Kirk M." <triax at bellsouth_net>
Subject: Latin Names
I was wondering if there are any online resources for learning what the
Latin names for various plants and fish translate to in English? A lot of
the translation engines I have come across haven't been too helpful. Thanks!
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Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 22:35:30 -0400
From: Bill Wichers <billw at waveform_net>
Subject: Re: Latin Names
>I was wondering if there are any online resources for learning what the
>Latin names for various plants and fish translate to in English? A lot of
>the translation engines I have come across haven't been too helpful. Thanks!
They don't translate well since they don't directly translate. The Latin
names are the "scientific" or "species" names while the supposedly
"English" names are more commonly referred to as the "common names". The
Latin name will not directly, literally translate in the usual sense.
Your best bet is most likely going to be to get a book about the
plant/animal species you are interested in that lists both the scientific
and common names for each species. There are bound to be places on the
Internet with that information too, I suggest trying a search for something
like "Latin common species" and the species name that you are interested in.