tony rebelo

naturalist at heart: would rather be out there right now.

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  • Profile picture of tony rebelo who took this action.

    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    @Arthur Bogan: Iso standards have been provided for languages, which is great. But we have not discussed how to deal with "recommended" names - the issue is that (some) different countries have their own official lists. There are two options here: (1) acknowledge that different countries have different official common names - in which case we need the iso standards for countries; (2) follow the bird route and compile an international official list, which has the simplicity of a single "official' name, but results in local names being lost, the tyranny of the first, biggest, richest and most organized bodies dictating to other organizations/countries what names will be used (and the format, styles and lexicography). The issue is slightly more complicated as there may be even be state/province/county official lists and even local lists with political sensitivities. And how should we code "synonyms" (alternative names in use not on the official lists), and old names (synonyms no longer in use, past names). Ideally, if we want to attempt something like a phylogenetic and geographical analysis of common names, it would also be nice to have an idea of how widespread they are used: a single author's name or widely used all over: No doubt google would be a great tool for this for current names but historical names might be a little more difficult.

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    @Deniz Martinez: Scientific names have to be prescriptive, but common names can be either. Unfortunately there are lots of prescriptive approaches to common names, from national lists, copy editors and official lists (often required for legal purposes). It would be great to be descriptive, but this appears to be a rare approach, usually done with local indigenous and unwritten languages. The moment the common names come to be printed or published prescriptive standardization follows. Field guides are the worse of these, standardizing and formatting common usage into "standard English" (or what-ever language). Just looking at common names on iSpot in South Africa they are fluid and inexact, often changing with context, and sometimes remaining the same as the identity of the organism (its scientific name anyway) changes with more accurate ID. But these are different issues to "what is a common name"? Is it a descriptive phrase? Is it a Proper Noun? These are fundamental differences in approach, different orthographies, different styles. Will we always have the Steller Seacow vs the Steller's sea cow schools, with trends oscillating between approaches as fashion, personalities and practicalities dictate?

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    @Andrew Brower: @Andrew - is it not weird that you claim not be be prescriptive but then criticism the use of Steller Jay or Mourning Cloak - is that not being prescriptive in demanding a collective noun approach where people use Proper Nouns? In many field guides the use of one approach or the other is often determined by the copy editor either deciding for or against apostrophes, and then rigorously applying it across the board. Thus what enters print is often not what is in use, but once in print, becomes what is used. The insistence of transferring genitive in the Latin name to the Proper Noun is not what is often in use, no matter how logical, or how certain people insist on one convention or the other. So if I call your tree the Osage Orange or the Bodark am I incorrect - will you still say that it is OK because it is supposed to be "unregulated." In which case we can have Greater Crested Grebe or Great Crested Grebe or Great Crest Grebe or Great-crest Grebe, and clutter indexes with a myriad of similar alternatives used by difference cliques. Is that desirable. Might the above not easiest be summarized Great Crest Grebe and allow users to meld the terms into whatever way they desire. It is amazing how many terms that sound wrong in one context are in use in another (and ruthlessly standardized by copy editors).

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    It seems as if every society, publisher and journal has its own unique set of rules for common names. I love the AFS rule 5: that explicitly says that common names are not proper names. - What are they then? Descriptive nouns? Also having this issue for South Africa - do we want an Official List of Names (we have 11 official languages) for all organisms: we have lists for birds, mammals, trees, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and odd charismatic groups, (as a rule local botanists have until recently refused to acknowledge common names, with some exceptions: trees, cycads, aloes, proteas), but each has their own sets of rules. Having been involved with threatened Red List plants the first step towards getting public buy-in is to create a common name. Clearly there is an issue here that needs attention. However, we immediately have a conflict in that (compounded with 11 languages) we want to retain the rich local culture of common names which an official list will effectively destroy. (we have ample example of this with the internationalization of the bird common name list). How does one proceed?

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    I would argue that most people would write "The forester came over and cut down 3 big oak trees in my woods." If they wanted to be specific they would write "The forester came over and cut down 3 big White Oaks in my woods." And if they were really fussy they would write "The forester came over and cut down 3 big White Oaks (Quercus albus) in my woods." Having published a field guide my fight was with the copy editor who wanted to retain the publishers style. It was only by appealing to the director that the copy editor budged. A lot of what is published is house styles, rather than what makes sense. After all why should it be "Cape sugarbird"? why not cape sugarbird? (this is entirely unpalatable for some reason - Cape is a proper noun and cannot be lower case) Indeed why not Cape Sugarbird (after all it is a proper noun for the bird)? I dont think that this is an issue that we can follow precedence on. As stated below, it depends whether you follow the descriptive noun or Proper Noun route. The trend is certainly - in many popular writings - to go the descriptive route. I think in ignorance by people who dont know better than that there is a fly, and perhaps a green, maybe a blue and perhaps even a brown one. but for anyone who appreciates that there are many species and wants to communicate about these species then descriptive nouns are wholefully inadequate. One of Adam's first tasks was to give Proper Names to the animals and plants: not to merely describe them, but to name them Properly. (And that explains why Fungi are such a pain - they were forgotten and dont have original Proper Names!)

    over 1 year ago • edited: over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    The loss of the apostrophe is common as words become more commonplace. There are bird examples - I remember - but cannot call them to mind now. But around Cape Town (Cape's Town) we have Devils Peak, Lions Head, Sir Lowrys* Pass, Bettys* Bay, St Sebastian Bay, Jeffreys Bay, Gordons* Bay, Mitchells Plain, Simonstown (or Simons* Town) , Plettenberg Bay , Prince Alfred Hamlet (*on some/many maps still with apostrophe) and so on. So the loss of the apostrophe and the "s" is an ongoing process, although I will concede that the apostrophe is lost easier when the "s" is also dropped - where the "s" is retained many seem to think like you that it cannot just be an s as that implies plural and hence must be aspostrophed.

    over 1 year ago • edited: over 1 year ago

  • Profile picture of tony rebelo who took this action.

    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    I think you are muddling Common Names with Official Names. What I have said applies to all common names. Official Names are lists of standardized common names set up by some committee or group for standardization. Those are a small subset of common names used by people, and in my opinion reduced the diversity and richness of common names - if we really need a standard list, well we have the scientific names. Some of what you say is correct. If people are using Greater Crested Grebe, who are we to say it should be Great Crest Grebe? Although I would say that Burchell's Coucal is a typological error for Burchells Coucal. So please: Strawberry Bush and Hearts-a-bustin-with-love is great, but remember the capital letters. (Heartsabustinwithlove is too extreme and Hearts Abusting With Love is ridiculous). Part of my problem is that I also speak Afrikaans, which apart from being phonetic tends to have a oneword approach to objects, so words like Heartsabustinwithlove are second nature to me (the phonetics is important as words like Whiteeye are almost never a problem in Afrikaans, so hyphens are rare).

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    @Jamie McMillan: I concur. The issue of names being Proper Names or collective names is an issue I too feel strongly about. To my mind a Proper Name: the name that refers specifically to a special species is the same as a persons name: it should be capitalized and cannot be genitive. What is a white green fly? It could be anything. But White Greenfly alerts me immediately that this refers to a special species (or genus) that probably has a scientific name. I go a bit further than you though. Great Crested Grebe is still too descriptive. Why not Greatcrest Grebe if it has a large crest or Great Crest Grebe if it is the larger of a group of Grebes with crests. And certainly it is Burchells Coucal - it is named after Burchell and does not belong to him, so Burchell's Coucal is wrong. But I am amazed at the vehement criticism I get when I vehemently try forcing my views on the matter ..

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on tony rebelo's newsfeed:

    http://eol.org/info/resources - the iSpot link has a superfluous "]" which is preventing the link from working. Jen: Any news on the iSpot ZA content partner and its resource files?

    over 1 year ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "EOL Curators":

    @Katja Schulz: What about other sites like iSpot (www.ispot.org.za or www.ispot.org.uk) which also collect and identify images. Why are they not also harvested by EoL?

    almost 2 years ago

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    tony rebelo commented on "Image of Leucadendron coniferum":

    ID is wrong - this is a Protea - probably a hybrid with Protea nitida as one parent - It is not a natural entity.

    over 2 years ago