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Three types of zoological common names and their formation-processes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English. Linnaeus University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8301-3960
2016 (English)In: Nordic Journal of English Studies, ISSN 1654-6970, E-ISSN 1654-6970, Vol. 15, no 2, 171-187 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Known biological species have a standard (if frequently adjusted) international scientific name. Many species also have more or less fixed common names in one or (usually) more languages. We can identify three groups of common names in terms of their form and formation-processes, here called folk, collector, and popularizing Species (or genera or families) of economic or other importance have old , often opaque, folk names in use by everyone( wolf, mouse, rye)  or by those making use of the species (betony, coley, pochard). Species which became of interest to collectors or enthusiasts after the Renaissance have partially systematic  common names often involving metaphor and metonymy (Peacock butterfly, Yellow Underwing, Camberwell Beauty). Finally species that already have established scientific names and no traditional common name are often assigned two-part “calqued” common names whose information content includes the established genus or family assignment. Thus Aeshna viridis  is “Green Hawker/Grön mosaikslända”  because the necessary and sufficient criterion for Hawker/mosaikslända is belonging to the Aeshnidae.

The folk names have long been studied in detail. The collector names have attracted little attention although they show an interesting variety of formation processes and cross-linguistic contrasts reveal interesting social differences. The popularizing names are the most mechanically formed, but the naming patterns reflect interesting aspects of their origin in a nineteenth-century liberal project, in particular nationalism.

The collector names reflect the importance of the gentleman-amateur in England and France compared with that of the scientific researcher in Germany and Sweden. They may also reflect naming practices designed to maintain a social group rather than educate a public. The popularizing names reflect nationalism both at the level of the existence of independent US and British common dragonfly genus names and at  that of the decision of Swedish biologists to give every multicellular organism in Sweden a Swedish name, while English-speaking biologists seek rather to give an English name to every interesting animal or plant worldwide, neglecting, for example, micromoths, however British.

In this study I examine these types of name and naming process s on the basis of popularizing names for (uncollectable) dragonflies and (mainly) collector names for moths and butterflies and partly seashells.  Comparisons are made among English, French, German, and Swedish,  elucidating the formation processes and the differences in society they may reflect.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 15, no 2, 171-187 p.
Keyword [en]
insect names, English German, Swedish, French, history of science
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139606OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-139606DiVA: diva2:1073261
Available from: 2017-02-09 Created: 2017-02-09 Last updated: 2017-03-16Bibliographically approved

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