- Formulation of Scientific Names
- The scientific naming of living organisms follows certain rules which, for animals, are outlined in the International Rules of Zoological Nomenclature, and for plants in the International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature; the basic provisions of these two sets of rules are essentially the same. Scientific names are Latinized, but may be derived from any language or from the names of people or places; most names are derived from Latin or Greek words.Scientific names are usually descriptive, referring to the size, form, color, habits, or other characteristics of the organism; they are sometimes derived from the names of people or places. The rules permit a name to be merely an arbitrary combination of letters, but such names are not recommended. Names may be Latin or Greek substantives, compound Latin words, compound Greek words, mythological, heroic, or proper names used by the ancients, or Greek or Latin derivatives expressing diminution, comparison, or resemblance. If a modern surname is used to form a scientific name, an ending is added to the name to denote dedication.Names derived from Greek words should be transliterated according to the rules given below. In compounding two roots to form a name, if the attribute expresses a quality it should precede the principal word (e.g., Erythrocephala); but if it expresses an action, activity, or state it may precede or follow the principal word (e.g., Hydrophilus, Philydrus). When two roots are combined they are usually separated by a combining vowel; the letter i_is generally used with Latin roots (although . is sometimes used with second-declension nouns), and . with Greek roots (although y_is used with many third-declension nouns). When th.e second of two combined roots begins with a vowel, the combining vowel is usually omitted. The roots combined to form a scientific name should be from the same source language; exceptions are certain prefixes and suffixes (e.g., anti-, post-, sub-, -oid), which are commonly used with either Latin or Greek roots.Genus names are formed from modern surnames by adding an ending to denote dedication. Surnames ending in a consonant take the ending -ius, -ia, or -ium (e.g., Williamsonia from Williamson); surnames ending in e,^, o, u_, or y_ take the ending -us, -a, or -urn (e.g., Blainvillea from Blainville); surnames ending in a_ take the ending -ia for names of animal genera (e.g., Danaia from Dana) or ^ea for names of plant genera (e.g., Jubaea from Juba). If the surname begins with the particle Mac, Mc, or M' the particle is written Mac and combined with the rest of the name (e.g., Macneilia from McNeil). If the surname begins with the particle de or von, the particle is either omitted or coalesced with the name (e.g., Selysius from DeSelys, Delongius from DeLong). Proper names should not be used with other roots in the formulation of scientific names.Species and subspecies names may be adjectives, the present or past participles of verbs, or nouns; adjectives and participles must agree in gender with the genus name, and nouns are either in the nominative or genitive. Names formed from a modern surname take a Latin genitive ending: -4 if the person is a man, or -ae_if the person is a woman; if the surname is that of more than one person (all having the same surname), it takes -orum if one of the persons is a man, or -arum if all are women. Particles are handled in the same way as for generic names (see preceding paragraph). Species and subspecies names derived from the names of geographic localities are formed by adding the genitive ending -ae to the locality name, or by using the adjectival form of the locality name (i.e., with the suffix -icus, -ica, -icum, -ensis, or -ense, the ending agreeing in gender with the generic name). Species and subspecies names of animals always begin with a small letter; species and subspecies names of plants that are derived from proper names are often capitalized. The names of some of the taxonomic categories above genus are formed by adding the appropriate ending to the root of the name of the genus that is designated as the type of that group; the endings that have been standardized are listed below. The names of other higher categories are Latin plurals in the nominative.Category Plants AnimalsOrder -alesSuborder -ineaeSuperfamily Formulation of Scientific Names -oideaFamily -aceae -idaeSubfamily -oideae -inaeTribe -eae -iniSubtribe -inaeAnyone formulating a name for a genus of plants or animals should make sure that the name he devises has not already been used. The rules of nomenclature provide that two genera of animals (or plants) cannot have the same name; if it is found that two or more genera have the same name, this name is retained for the first genus for which the name was used, and rejected for the other genera. A genus of plants and a genus of animals can have the same name, although this is not recommended.In naming species or subspecies, one should make sure that the name he devises is not used for any other species or subspecies in the same genus; otherwise, as in the case of generic names, it would be a homonym and be rejected. It is advisable that the name used be one that is not used in any related genus.
Dictionary of word roots and combining forms . Donald J. Borror. 2013.