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Was this ever used in Latin running text? DCDuring TALK 13:12, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Yes and no... Searching for inflected forms such as albifronte, albifrontis, and albifronti turns up a decent number of hits, but they all seem to be specific epithets. Searching for albifrons itself would be an exercise in futility: Google Books returns over a quarter-million hits. Chuck Entz (talk) 15:10, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
I think that we would be likely to find at best some use in a Latin species description for such terms.
Should we leave it as Latin, though unattested, or make it Translingual?
We don't have an efficient way of discriminating between true Latin terms, used in running Latin text (sentences), and terms used only as specific epithets, which Latinists sneer at. I no longer have the patience to even try to resolve this. I suppose we could just let any terms such as this which happen to have a Latin L2 header remain with such header, whether or not they would be likely to meet RfV. For specific epithets now redlinked, it seems easier to add them as Translingual, for which the attestation is trivial, and let the Latinists claim whichever of them they deign to, whenever they get around to it. As SB has noted in this regard, most users just want to know what a term means and don't care about the L2 header (and many other things, for that matter). DCDuring TALK 19:13, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
I would make it Translingual. (Newcomers to this multifaceted debate, please see Talk:neanderthalensis among many other discussions.) - -sche (discuss) 20:42, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
But it's not translingual. This word is not defined by any international organization (although it's included in some scientific official names). The only possible header is Latin, because is is Latin (classical Latin, maybe, I don't know, but scientific Latin, clearly). Lmaltier (talk) 21:04, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Words don't have to be defined by an international organization to be translingual. They just need to be used translingually.
If I thought that these terms would be successfully implemented as Latin terms without interminable debate and worse, I would be happy with that outcome. Not bloody likely, however. DCDuring TALK 23:35, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
What I was meaning: this word has no meaning at all, except as a Latin word. Some words have a conventional international meaning, but it's not the case here. Lmaltier (talk) 06:54, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Yet if this RFV shows that albifrons is never used in Latin (and no use in Latin has been shown so far, only use in translingual species names), it cannot have a meaning as a Latin word, and only has a meaning as a translingual species name-part. - -sche (discuss) 07:16, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Please, understand that scientific names are composed of Latin words, even if these words are new. They get a Latin gender, and (normally) follow Latin grammatical rules. Sometimes, names are changed to follow Latin grammar (if the genus is masculine, the specific name cannot be a feminine adjective). In most cases, this is not classical Latin, sure, but this is Latin nonetheless. Lmaltier (talk) 23:09, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
It's a fascinating test case. Yes, it is used in running Latin text — but no, it is not used outside of specific epithets (generally 19th-c. cites). In this case, I think I would actually prefer the Latin header, as long as its clearly marked as a scientific epithet, because Translingual entries don't get declension tables, and this is clearly attestable in several declined forms. Finally, DCDuring, you seem to have a very negative view of Latinists. I personally don't count as a true Latinist, but if you are including me, I hope I have not offended in previous discussions. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 03:28, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
For context, the French Wiktionary does not use {{mul}} it uses its own {{conv}} for "international conventions". I think this is what Lmaltier is referring to when he says "Some words have a conventional international meaning". Obviously, since we're not the French Wiktionary, we don't have to adhere to this. Mglovesfun (talk) 11:50, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
@Metak: My problem is that the taxonomic names has been left a mess for so long mostly because the applicable policies that should apply were scant, but criticism of contributions based in claimed expertise was abundant.
@LMaltier: Specific epithets are not entirely "arbitrary signs", but have meaning in terms of other words. Epithets have been selected to have meaning somehow applicable the grouping named, which, at least, should appear in an Etymology. How they end up being applied in each particular case would make for etymology that would be peculiar to the name, to the species description history, and applicable rules of the naming bodies as they have evolved over time. DCDuring TALK 13:52, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
  • On the subject of neglect: of 119 species entries with redlinked specific epithets, 14 are probably Latin (classical through medieval), 105 are "New Latin". Of 69 species entries that have blue-linked specific epithets, 61 have Latin L2 headers and 8 have Translingual. Some of those with Latin L2 headers are probably not found in Latin before New Latin and are not found in running Latin text. So we might have some 2,000+ species entries out of 3,300+ that do not have specific epithets, 1,600+ of which are probably New Latin, a supermajority of which would probably not qualify as Latin if the requirement is attestation in Latin sentences, ie, not isolated binomial names. When one considers the very small number of species entries that we have compared to the number of species (some of which have not just a taxon, but also one or more synonym}, this should be addressed in some way that does not leave us with any needless barriers to the creation of entries.
A simple practice of entering all specific epithets as Translingual, pending the determination that the epithet is attestably Latin, would lead to the creation of entries which could be the basis for Latin entries. Also, assertions such as "Translingual terms do not inflect" should really be qualified as Umbelliferae, umbellifera, and umbelliferus clearly share a common stem, and suspiciously resemble true Latin forms. Remember, too, that most Latin terms do not have any attestation for most of their inflected forms. DCDuring TALK 18:26, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
What I meant by inflection is this: Back in the earlier days of Latin literature in biology, if somebody found two female specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex, they would inflect it thus: Tyrannosaurae reginae. If they wanted to say "I consider the specimens to be T. rex, they would put it in the accusative: Haec specimina Tyrannosauras reginas esse existimo. That would be using it in running Latin text, but it would also be using it inseparably from the generic epithet, likewise inflected. That is beyond the umbelliferus example, and this is precisely the case in question here. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:15, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Where are the citations? DCDuring TALK 20:47, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Do we have a single Latin L2 section for a term that is a specific epithet that has cites in the entry for the sense reflected in the specific epithet? DCDuring TALK 20:53, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
That's why M-K called it a test case: there are enough examples in the searches I linked to that could be added as cites, if we decide we want to.
Scientific nomenclature is really a sort of hybrid between Latin and translingual, or an entity that evolved from one to the other. It started out as straightforward Latin, with a name consisting of a Latin phrase describing the organism: the (hypothetical) equivalent of "large sparrow with white on the forehead". Linnaean binomials were an abbreviation of that, keeping "sparrow" as the generic name and "white-forehead" as the specific epithet. It also dictated that only one taxon at a given rank above the level of species could bear the same name, and only one sister taxon at the level of species and below could bear the same name, this making all names unique (there are separate naming systems for plants, animals, etc., so a plant name can be the same as an animal name). Pre-Linnaean taxonomic names were clearly Latin, and modern names that are described in non-Latin languages are clearly translingual, but early Linnaean names are a gray area shading from one to the other over time.
Part of the ambiguity comes from the fact that Latin was originally considered by scientists to be an international language, since it had long since ceased to be the native or even official language of any country in the world. In that way scientific Latin could almost be considered inherently translingual. That's why it was originally required that all original descriptions and other taxonomic acts be written in Latin.
I think an argument could be made for taxonomic names being both translingual and Latin simultaneously. That's why it's hard to decide which to use. Chuck Entz (talk) 21:53, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
No, but only because taxonomic names are capitalized, unlike Latin nouns. Otherwise, you would have been right. albifrons is not a taxonomic name, it's a Latin word used to build taxonomic names. Lmaltier (talk) 23:09, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Specific epithets are the whole problem. Many of the most common ones are (or are the same as) classical or medieval Latin, or pre-Linnaean scientific Latin. But even for these, the terms have developed senses that are at least specializations of the Latin senses. Others are more recent but may have been used in scientific Latin texts in full Latin sentences. The entire period of scientific Latin seems to have seen a flowering of creative combination of Latin morphemes with each other, with morphemes derived from Greek (following the practice of classical Latin), and with morphemes taken from many of the world's languages. More recently, the practice of honoring biologists, their friends, and their patrons has led to a another set of macaronic creations.
As Chuck said, some of the words are attestably Latin in some scientific Latin uses, including as part of taxonomic names, and also Translingual in that they have developed specialized senses not necessarily found in Latin attestation, mostly by metonymy. Perhaps there is no getting around the need for both Latin and Translingual L2 sections. As a practical matter, attestation for some Translingual "senses" may not be so easy, just as Latin attestation for some New Latin terms may not be forthcoming, especially not in some more recent usage. I suppose this means that some specific epithets will have an Etymology section which might suggest a likely meaning, but no attestation of that meaning. Thus its only defensible definition might be a non-gloss definition like "Used as a specific epithet for animals". DCDuring TALK 01:00, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
A couple of examples that illustrate the problem with speaking of taxonomic names as strictly Latin: Although its specific epithets have to agree with it in gender as if it were a Latin noun, Muilla (the name for a genus of plants) is really just Allium spelled backwards, because the original describer thought it resembled the other genus. And then there's the specific epithet johntuckeri (a species of Quercus). Treating this as Latin means we have to assume that there's an unattested Latin word johntucker, of which this would be the genitive case. Should we make johntucker the lemma, and johntuckeri a form-of entry? Chuck Entz (talk) 01:35, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. For specific epithets only known in species names there is a strong case for just having the actual form(s) used. Perhaps the implied lemma could appear in the etymology. I have seen cases where somewhat arbitrary letters or syllables are added to a genus name to create another genus name that still evokes the first. Not to mention the intentionally humorous ones, like Ba humbugi. DCDuring TALK 03:05, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree with you. We should not invent a word johntucker to create a new entry in such a case. Anyway, this derives from John Tucker, not johntucker. This is a special case to be explained in the entry. Lmaltier (talk) 10:04, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Not that special - [darlingi], [darlingtoni], [darwini], [dassonvillei], [davidi], [davisi], [deglandi], [delacouri], [delavayi], [delbruckii], and so on ad infinitum. bd2412 T 20:45, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
I also want to change a bit what I stated above. Actually, there may be a section for a taxonomic name in any language: this is useful, especially for the gender used in the language, usage notes and citations, and pronunciation in the language (I've got a book providing the English pronunciations of scientific species names for Australian fish, but this is very exceptional, and our added value would be huge). Why not a Latin section for the name, if it's used (as a taxonomic name, and therefore capitalized) in texts written in Latin? Lmaltier (talk) 10:04, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Since octopi is English, why can't we just say that Latin-sounding terms coined by English speakers and used in otherwise English sentences are, in fact, in the English language? bd2412 T 20:47, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
In the case of specific epithets, We have made it a (rebuttable) presumption that the species name (or abbreviation thereof) is used in multiple languages rather than only being English. We have not for words from "Medical Latin" (though they are used in multiple European languages), from "Legal Latin" (though some are used in both common law and Napoleonic code jurisdictions) and for other common Latin-derived expression like carpe diem). DCDuring TALK 21:03, 29 July 2013 (UTC)


Clocked out without citations. Change (without prejudice) to Translingual. If someone would like to challenge it as Translingual, we can insert a few of the 123 uses of this form at wikispecies as a specific epithet. DCDuring TALK 14:58, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
Or we could simply link Anser albifrons, Henicophaps albifrons, and Sternula albifrons. DCDuring TALK 15:00, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
I think that the fact that "albifrons" appears as a separate component in each of these favors keeping at least a translingual entry for the term. I intend to close this accordingly. bd2412 T 15:27, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Sense deleted and replaced with a translingual sense. bd2412 T 02:38, 5 September 2013 (UTC)