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RFV discussion: February–May 2017[edit]

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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification (permalink).

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"Mostly or perhaps exclusively used to indicate trees that resemble Populus tremuloides" sounds like this might be a non-Latin term just used in species names etc. - 04:47, 3 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, it's only used in species names, but the question of whether it's Latin or not is rather difficult. The problem is that taxonomic nomenclature started out unquestionably as Latin, with running sentences complete with all parts of speech and the full range of inflection. As taxonomic works shifted more and more to being written in modern languages, and the creation of taxonomic names became more formalized, taxonomic Latin became less of a language and more of a system of manipulating symbols.
If you read the taxonomic codes, they stipulate that taxonomic names are in Latin, and follow Latin grammar. That said, they only use nouns in the nominative for the generic name, and either adjectives agreeing in gender and number with the generic name or nouns in either the nominative or genitive case in apposition for the specific epithet. Names of taxa at higher/non-binomial taxonomic ranks are formed from standard endings added to the genitive stem of a noun. There's also the matter of words and other pieces of morphology from other languages or even "arbitrary sequences of characters" that are converted into Latin by certain standard methods. Thus, the specific epithet john-tuckeri has probably never appeared in an actual Latin sentence, but it does have a genuine Latin second declension masculine genitive singular ending.
I have mixed feelings about this entry, because it was originally created under the mistaken impression that it was just a synonym of tremula, which I corrected (though I absentmindedly put "resemble Populus tremuloides" rather than the correct "resemble Populus tremula", which is what I meant to say). I left things structured the way they were because I didn't want to completely throw away the work already put into the entry. It doesn't matter that much to me whether it's Translingual or Latin.
Finally, this isn't really a matter for Requests for Verification, which deals with demonstrating usage. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:54, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
  • "taxonomic nomenclature started out unquestionably as Latin, with running sentences complete with all parts of speech and the full range of inflection"
    That was Latin. If one says in English "Homo sapiens is ...", in German "Der Homo sapiens ist ..." or in Latin "Homo sapiens est ...", then it's English, German, Latin, respectively. (Well, actually one could still argue wether or not this would be English, German or Latin, and a purist could argue that it isn't, but the English wiktionary as well as recent dictionaries include such words.)
  • "If you read the taxonomic codes, they stipulate that taxonomic names are in Latin"
    Which doesn't mean that it is Latin. (a) Pseudo-Latin as it is also used in sciences sometimes doesn't follow Latin grammar. For example: (1.) Serpens Cauda (English or Pseudo-Latin Translingual used in astronomics) with it's English translation Tail of the Snake doesn't fit together. Serpens Cauda would literally mean Snake Tail, while Tail of the Snake would be Serpentis Cauda or Cauda Serpentis in Latin. (2.) There are different ways of capitalising Latin words, but in all I've seen, proper nouns start with a capital letter. So fleischmanni (i.e. *Fleischmanni, genitive of *Fleischmannus, from German Fleischmann - the Latin terms actually are attestable, so the star got removed) as in Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni and Craugastor fleischmanni just looks wrong. (b) Just because one claims something (like a word) is part of a certain language (like Latin), it's not necessarily so. For example, Handschuhschneeballwerfer or handschuhschneeballwerfer (Handschuh + Schneeball + Werfer) is a Pseudo-German word mentioned in English books, but google book search has no results with a German usage.
  • "but it does have a genuine Latin second declension masculine genitive singular ending."
    Which does not necessarily makes it Latin. There are several English and German terms with Latin endings, and some of them most likely never appeared in Latin. For example, several terms for letters (r rotunda, s longa, s rotunda, I longa) as well as some grammatical terms (deverbalis, casus generalis, hyponymum, ...) maybe never appeared in Latin. And in contrary to john-tuckeri, these terms look like Latin terms.
  • "Finally, this isn't really a matter for Requests for Verification, which deals with demonstrating usage."
    Well, if one claims that it is Latin, one has to attest it as a Latin term. Are there any usages of the term in a Latin text?
    Otherwise, one could and should simply change the language to Translingual like e.g. Populus tremuloides is Translingual and not Latin too or as sapiens also is Translingual.
    (BTW: Maybe see also WT:RFV#iroquoianus below which has the same problem, a Translingual term having been added as Latin.)
- 02:25, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I think the TL;DR of this is that the IP wants to change the language from Latin to Translingual, which I'd agree with. Benwing2 (talk) 02:53, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
Should that be done for all similar cases? How would you define the class of similar cases? DCDuring TALK 03:05, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I see your point. I don't really know. The thing is, -oides is a strange suffix, borrowed directly from Greek and probably not attested anywhere except in taxonomic names. Even the definition for -oides says it's Translingual rather than Latin. iroquoianus at least has a normal Latin ending. Taxonomic Latin is barely Latin at all, pseudo-Latin as the IP said. It reminds me of the way that Ottoman Turkish would fairly freely coin pseudo-Arabic words and compounds using Arabic grammatical elements, and use them in Turkish sentences, pronounced according to Turkish norms. I wouldn't call those things Arabic, and likewise it seems strange to call taxonomic terms Latin, since they're (almost?) never actually used in Latin sentences and are pronounced according to the host language's norms. I wonder if we shouldn't create a new language tag for neo-Latin. Benwing2 (talk) 05:02, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I could be happy with any implementable approach to taxonomic epithets. Had folks been willing to to reach some kind of consensus earlier, we would not have to redo some entries now. I now realize that we probably need a label/category for specific epithets, which, when implemented, would render the choice between Translingual and Latin and L2 headers virtually irrelevant for Wiktionary's taxonomic vocabulary purposes. Of course such a category fits in neither our language-based categories nor our topic categories (IMO). But we can (mis)treat taxonomic names just as we treat other newer Latins. We ignore the translingual usage of scientific, medical and legal Latins while also excluding them from Latin. We would also have to create Translingual versions of the Latin inflection-line templates for those epithets that are not Latin for our purposes, notwithstanding the taxonomists assertions that such epithets are Latin. Programming and search would remain a bit more complicated than they would have to be to find all specific epithets. DCDuring TALK 15:41, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
@Benwing2 (1): In the end, yes. (Quote: "Otherwise, one could and should simply change the language to Translingual").
@DCDuring (1): Well, it would simply be to place Translingual taxonomical terms as Translingual (and not as Latin). So the question "How would you define the class of similar cases?" should lead to "What are (Translingual) taxonomical terms?". The answer to that should be somewhat obviously. If there is an English, French, ... text with long and somewhat unusual or unnative names for animals and plants than it's most likely a Translingual taxonomical term.
But there are already similar problems with English terms of Latin origin. Terms like argumentum ad hominem are sometimes incorrectly put together with English examples under a Latin header.
@Benwing2 (2): Words ending with oides do appear in Latin and already in ancient Latin (Old, Classical, Late Latin). But in ancient Latin it could be an element which only appears in words borrowed directly from Greek. In New Latin however there could also be words with -oides not borrowed directly from Greek.
Like (Pseudo-)Arabic in Turkic, one could also compare it with (Pseudo-)Latin in English and (Pseudo-)English in German, French etc. (Pseudo-)Latin terms used in English are considered to be English and not Latin, like e.g. argumentum ad hominem (this might also be a real Latin term, but could also be sum of parts (SOP) in Latin). And (Pseudo-)English, so called anglicisms and pseudo-anglicisms, used in German, French etc. are considered to be German, French etc. and not necessarily English. Just a few examples: (a) of anglicism: computer/Computer (= computer), (b) of pseudo-anglicism: Handy (= mobile phone), last not least (= last but not least), Showmaster (= show host), baby-foot (= table football).
@DCDuring (2): Instead of repeating many things, I'd rather point to the discussion below.
  • Taxonomical categories exist, and IMHO there should be one for specific epithets.
  • Translingual scientific, medical and legal terms would be Translingual. If it is scientific, medical or legal Latin, then it's Latin, and may it be Medieval or New Latin. The below mentioned precativus could be an example for a scientific New Latin term.
    (Some people consider so-called social science not be real sciences like the natural science, so for some people precativus would not be an example of a scientific Latin term. In that case, one most likely could find a mathematical and thus scientific New Latin term in the works of mathematicans or physicans like Newton or Euler. With logarithmus, coefficiens, zerum and differentiale there should be New (or sometimes already Medieval?) Latin scientific terms. BTW: These terms could be just Latin and not Translingual, because for example English has logarithm, coefficent, zero and differential and German has Logarithmus, Koeffizient, Null and Differential.)
  • "We would also have to create Translingual versions of the Latin inflection-line templates for those epithets that are not Latin for our purposes"
    Not necessarily. It could be that Translingual terms are just used in the nominative in Translingual, or it could be that the nominative form is used for other cases in English, French, German (but most likely not Latin). In "The Rise of Homo Sapiens" and "a recent African origin for Homo sapiens" the form of the nominative form is used for the objective case. In German there could be forms like genitive Hominis sapientis (note: German declined terms borrowed from Latin like they are declined in Latin), but if they exist, they should be old like Linnaeus' work is old too. In "modern" New High German correctly inflected forms are uncommon as well (with a few religious exceptions like for Christus and Jesus) and the nominative is used for the dative and accusative and sometimes or in some cases the genitive (thus in singular: der Homo sapiens, des Homo sapiens, dem Homo sapiens, den Homo sapiens). So most likely one would just need the nominative forms (of all three genders and most likely both numbers), or one would need language specific information, that is placing taxonomical terms as English, German, Latin etc. if attested in the language. Thus, for the same reason why musical terms aren't translingual, also taxonomical and chemical terms maybe shouldn't be translingual. In German one can for example say "das H2O" (of neuter gender; snobby/scientific) for "the (pure) water". So a Translingual entry H₂O could miss the German gender. But well, maybe one could put a general note for genders etc. at Wiktionary:About Translingual or less fitting Wiktionary:About German, Wiktionary:About French etc., or maybe in case of H2O there could also be a German entry.
  • "taxonomists assertions that such epithets are Latin"
    People who dislike anglicism and pseudo-anglicism could also assert that such terms aren't German, French etc. This then could mean that "handy" (= mobile telephone) and "showmaster" (or show-master, show master) are English terms. Native English speakers however could reject this too, which then would mean that "handy" and "showmaster" do not belong to any language. So just like it's done here, pseudo-anglicism should be considered German, French etc. Similary for example argumentum ad hominem should be English, and taxonomical terms should be Translingual.
    PS: A better comparision instead of people rejecting (pseudo-)anglicisms in their language: People who invent or like pseudo-anglicisms could assert that these words are English. E.g. the inventor or a liker of handy (= mobile telephhone, not the English handy) or showmaster could say it's an English word which he just used in German texts. But English speakers could reject these assertions and in wiktionary pseudo-anglicisms are French, German etc. and not English (if not attested in English texts). Similary pseudo-latinism like taxonomical terms not found in Latin (like in Linnaeus' work) should not be Latin but something else. So iroquoianus could either be an English term as it might be only attestable in English at the moment or it could be Translingual. It would be kind of funny to say that modern New English has genders (masculine iroquoianus, feminine iroquoiana, neuter iroquoianum), so Translingual might be the better choice. But well, gender-less languages maybe could also have (pseudo-)gendered words, like a pseudo-masculine Filipino and a pseudo-feminine Filipina just like a pseudo-masculine father (replaceable in texts by the masculine pronoun he) and pseudo-feminine mother (she) in English.
    PS 2: As for scientific, medical terms etc. it should be simply be like this: If used in Latin (and may it be Medieval or New Latin), then it's Latin. If not used in Latin, then it's not Latin. There's much scientific NL, but a lack of dictionaries for NL and maybe a lack of knowledge of old theories, so theoretically there could be many more scientific Latin entries, but in practice it's not so easy to create these entries.<br / In case of mixed language texts it would be more complicated. I've once seen a German book about medical recipes. If I remember correctly it contained many Latin words, but had so much German mixed into it that it wasn't Latin anymore. In Lehrbuch der Receptirkunst für Aerzte (1854) the recipes start in Latin, and then there is a "d. s." and a German explanation. The first part could be Latin, while the second part is German, but I'm not totally sure about that. In Recepte der besten Aerzte aller Zeiten (1831) it's rather German even though the ingredients are Latin, and there the abbreviation r. (for recipe with the meaning take, maybe a ML or NL meaning) could already be considered to be German. In The Medical Companion (1816) the recipes are in English with take and no r. (or rec., rp., recipe), thus it's in English. In The medical formulary (1838) it's similar to Recepte der besten Aerzte aller Zeiten, it's starts with r. and Latin ingredients but it's rather English. If more sources could be found, r. could be a Translingual abbreviation for Latin recipe with the meaning take. There could also be completely Latin recipes, especially in earlier times, so r. could also be a Latin abbreviation. I've seen one book from the 18th century which has Latin recipes followed by a German translation, which should attest a Latin usage of r.. In Antidotarium generale et speciale (Joan. Jacubus Weckerus, 1642) and Schola medicinæ universalis nova (1794) it's in Latin and does attest a Latin usage (though theoretically there could be doubts about the meaning of r. as it doesn't come with a translation and maybe the books never spells out its abbreviations, but seeing some 16th and 17th century Latin texts always spelling it out "recipe" and seeing the Latin and German 18th century text and German and English texts, there shouldn't be any doubts). But as it occurs in Latin, English, German, maybe also French and other languages, it's maybe better placed as Translingual. Also I've seen one 16th century German text with recipe and Latin or Latin and German names of the ingredients, but with German masses (e.g. "Recipe [...] Zinober ein halb pfund. [...] Arsenici ein halb viert."), so "recipe" could also be Translingual. The abbreviation r. could have been missing in wiktionary because (a) there maybe aren't many medical persons around here or (b) because modern recipes are written differently like completely in English, German etc. and not with Latin parts anymore (note: there is some time-related bias here in wiktionary favouring contemporary usage and discriminating against older usage, e.g. the English verb form sayth isn't mentioned at all in say) or (c) because people had problems to decipher r. or (d) people couldn't attest it with enough usages. Medical recipes sometimes also contain pictographs like a character similar to Θ (this is a Greek Theta) for salt, but maybe there are no unicode characters for it, so maybe it's not easy to create entries for it.
(And sorry for being a TL;DR text writing person, but a short version like just re-answering with "Taxonomical terms should be Translingual and not Latin" would most likely not be satisfactory either.)
(And sorry for PS2 becoming longer. I searched and attested it while I was writing and mentioned sources.)
- 07:16, 14 February 2017 (UTC), the PS 14:30, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Relabelled Translingual. - -sche (discuss) 01:40, 1 May 2017 (UTC)