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What language is 'smithii'?

smithii is a word. It's the Latinized English surname Smith. Google finds 448,000 occurrences of this word on the web. It's used in the names of at least 20 species' binominal names. So what language is smithii? I feel like the only reason smithii has no entry on Wiktionary currently is because no one knows what language heading to use. Of course there are many other such epithets found in binominal names, and I feel they should be included on Wiktionary. Thoughts? Sorry if this is the wrong page for this. Pengo 00:18, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Good question. Either New Latin (so Latin as a language header) or translingual, or no language at all as it only appears as part of compounds. Darwinii has caused similar issues; since I don't think that smithii or darwinii are used in Latin texts, it's hard to classify them as Latin. Mglovesfun (talk) 00:21, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
As I recollect, EP thought that the component words of two-part species names were Latin. He held that only the taxonomic names of genus and higher should be in Translingual. He did not favor including two-part species names, which are better covered at Wikispecies, especially the hierarchy structure, which changes from time to time. His position made sense to me. He hasn't been around lately and I'm not sure that everyone agrees with his conclusions. DCDuring TALK 02:19, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Fwiw, I think his that view sensible.​—msh210 (talk) 15:20, 18 March 2011 (UTC) 15:52, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Surely that wasn't what he thought when he nominated the Latin entry darwinii for deletion, was it? Can smithii and darwinii be attested in Latin? I don't see how we can include any entry in a language if it's not attested. My instinct would be to exclude smithii and darwinii as not part of any language. If anything, perhaps Category:Translingual particles. That is, they have no meaning on their own, a bit like parce#French which is only used in parce que. It doesn't mean anything.
In my Scrabble playing days, there was a somewhat similar argument over folic, which the dictionary didn't allow as valid as it said only used in folic acid. Not sure if it's now valid, the dictionary has since changed from Chambers to Collins. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:26, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Restored and moved to User:Mglovesfun/darwinii for discussion purposes. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:30, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I tried to find in a Latin text and failed. I am going to add these as translingual adjectives (when I have time). EP is no longer with us, so they probably won't get deleted this time (the original entry of mine was definitely wrong). SemperBlotto 15:33, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Historically, the species binomial names were used in an obligatory Latin description of the species. This would be running Latin text. I think that some of the academic communities now allow other languages to be used. I inferred, possibly erroneously, that EP was trying to exclude New Latin of all stripes from Latin because it introduced too much heterogeneity into the section: perhaps the use of "j" is an example. "Smithii" and "Darwinii" are used at the very least in numerous two-part species names, conforming to true Latin grammar of some vintage for the most part. That only two-part taxonomic names are supposed to appear in italics conforms to the typographic convention for noting that they are different from the language of the running text in which they appear. In this view, each quotation containing a two-part name in italics would count as a Latin usage. DCDuring TALK 16:41, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Potentially some good news; while at Bristol Cathedral last year some of the Latin inscriptions used Latinized surnames. They would count as durably archived, unless the Cathedral gets bombed I suppose. But I dispute that any time rattus rattus is used in a non-Latin context it's nevertheless a use in Latin; this is why we have translingual, isn't it? Mglovesfun (talk) 17:35, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't have an answer, but to give some more food for thought, another red-link example is longirostris (longi + rostris, long-nosed), which is used in at least 30 unrelated species binomial names[1]. I assume longirostris isn't a compound found in traditional Latin, but it seems odd that it shouldn't be considered a word by wiktionary when it has a clear meaning and is used commonly, even if only in binomial names or by taxonomists proposing new species names. (Over 1M hits on google, 88,900 results on Google Boks).
And one more example is jamaicensis (meaning: relating to Jamaica). Pengo 03:31, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Not to put too fine a point on it, it seems completely untenable to include the contents of Category:Klingon language and exclude New Latin terms because they strain the conventions of the classical Latin language. Many of the ones now considered problematic are derived from proper names. Some may seem like barbarous formations to classicists. But nonetheless they seem like words, specifically Latin ones. AFAICT, the reason some of these may have been deleted was general unwilling to gainsay EP's preferences. I, for one, had trouble understanding the logic of some of his arguments and agreeing with their conclusions, and not just in this specific area.
    As to whether two-part species name use embedded in other-language running text constitutes use in Latin of the component words: Normally all species epithets clearly follow a limited set of Latin grammatical rules, ie, inflection and agreement, and not the rules of the language in which the species binomial name may appear. DCDuring TALK 11:09, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
    BTW, this seems like a WT:BP matter. The discussion will need to be completed there. DCDuring TALK 11:15, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
    Finally, I took a run at a Latin entry for darwinii in principal namespace. Key features: Category:Latin adjective forms, Etymology: from unattested lemma, adj form definition, non-gloss definition, wikispecies links. DCDuring TALK 11:46, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
    This is a very good description. Such words are supposed to be Latin (modern Latin in this case). They are used in species names, which are supposed to be Latin too, which means that they are attested in Latin phrases. Latin is the only possible language: translingual is not possible, because they don't exist alone in international conventions. But Translingual is appropriate for full binomial names, capitalized genus names, etc., in addition to (possibly) other language headers (may be needed to show how the translingual name is used in each language: they follow some of the rules of the language: e.g. in French, they may be used either as masculine or feminine nouns, in German, an additional gender is available). Lmaltier 14:02, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
    I can happily live with this as a model for others. There are a few, named after female botanists, that have an -ae ending instead of -ii (e.g. - see w:Elizabeth Gertrude Britton). For this we just need to change |m| to |f|. SemperBlotto 14:12, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Is there currently any kind of rule to mark words that were not used in classical Latin? A context tag would be a good idea maybe. That way we can easily see which words were used in which time periods. —CodeCat 14:15, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I can think of some approaches:
  1. {{defdate}} (No documentation, but see bean);
  2. A custom {{context}} tag using Neo-Latin, which SB has used on some occasions, which label is not to my taste but is distinct from New Latin, which probably has too much baggage.
  3. Using New Latin in the context tag because that is the closest vintage and is parallel to tags like ecclesiastical and medieval.
  4. Inventing or borrowing a name new (at least to us), like ISV (International Scientific Vocabulary), which MW has used.
Are there more? Any preferences? DCDuring TALK 17:54, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
In passing, this is from w:Binomial nomenclature ...
"The two-part name of a species is commonly known as its Latin name. However, biologists and philologists prefer to use the term scientific name rather than "Latin name", because the words used to create these names are not always from the Latin language, even though words from other languages have usually been Latinized in order to make them suitable for this purpose. Species names are often derived from Ancient Greek words, or words from numerous other languages. Frequently species names are based on the surname of a person, such as a well-regarded scientist, or are a Latinized version of a relevant place name."
SemperBlotto 18:09, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I think specific epithets such as smithii are translingual. I understand the argument that they're Latin — morphologically they pose as New Latin, and syntactically they partly pose as New Latin (they're usually constructed as adjectives or genitive nouns modifying the generic epithets, and are placed accordingly) — but in actual usage, the're frequently separated from their generic epithets. "Homo erectus and sapiens", for example, is quite a normal construction, whereas *"pie à la mode and carte" is not. I think this is because sapiens, like Homo sapiens, is English (and translingual), whereas carte, unlike à la carte, is only French. —RuakhTALK 19:03, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Isn't the usage you cite (almost) always a work-specific shortening of the full binomial name or at least H. sapiens or H. erectus? I don't see why work-specific abbreviations are any more includable than work-specific definitions. DCDuring TALK 21:44, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
No, I don't think so: an occurrence of "Homo erectus and sapiens" is not "shortening" Homo sapiens, any more than "apple and peach pies" is "shortening" apple pies. And there's nothing work-specific about it: AFAIK it's just normal usage. I don't understand your point with H. sapiens; to me H. sapiens seems like just an abbreviation of Homo sapiens, and does not say anything relevant about sapiens. —RuakhTALK 23:52, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't see how you can put so much reliance on what is amenable to multiple plausible interpretations. H. sapiens and erectus are both abbreviated forms respectively of Homo sapiens and Homo erectus. "H. sapiens and erectus" seems interpretable without strain as a coordination of two abbreviations rather than a coordination of the species epithets.
OTOH, why not just reduce our workload by simply taking these as Translingual and accept prescriptive authority as to the meaning? DCDuring TALK 01:04, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, firstly, that explanation doesn't really account for why "H. sapiens and erectus" is normal whereas "erectus and H. sapiens" is aberrant; if the two coordinands were just separate, non-parallel abbreviations, then we would expect both orders to be used. (In fact, we might even expect the "heavier" abbreviation to tend to come second.) And secondly — it's true that "erectus" on its own is used in reference to Homo erectus. What of it? I should think that that was an even stronger reason to treat "erectus" as English/Translingual. You seem to get around that by considering such usage to be "work-specific", but I don't understand your basis for considering it so. —RuakhTALK 01:15, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
As to the second point, it seems to be an anaphora, context-dependent, specifically dependent on a previous use of the unabbreviated term in the same work. The use of an unabbreviated form provides more immediate context.
As to your earlier point about "apple and peach pies" and your first point, I think that this is more like a two-part proper name but one in which the postpositive position of the species epithet in Latin (or English) changes what might be the expected order of heavy and light otherwise.
As to your question about context, I am quite accustomed to work-specific definitions and abbreviations in almost any edited work. I cannot imagine a textbook or a scholarly article that uses the full species name before using an abbreviation, at the very least one full spelling of Homo before H. is used or at least one H. erectus before erectus is used. I would expect that one could get away with using "erectus" in conversation only among a small number of technical communities, specialized in Homo. Outside of such a community, erectus might bring to mind another genus. DCDuring TALK 03:16, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for your input so far. I think the consensus view is probably that "translingual" is the more accurate choice (over "Latin"). However, "translingual" is a very broad heading, especially considering the specialized language usage of specific epithets and such nomenclature. So can I suggest we create a scientific translingual grouping, similar to MW's "International Scientific Vocabulary". For example, I imagine when viewing an entry's TOC, it would be much clearer for someone to see "scientific translingual" listed rather than a plain "translingual" heading. So how do people feel about a "scientific translingual" heading? Could it be more precise and helpful, or is it splitting hairs? Pengo 10:51, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

I'd like this to be under a translingual header. I was considered {{rfv}} it attest usage in Latin texts, but rfv is so full at the moment it might be better to let an invalid entry slip under the radar. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:52, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Something such as International conventions instead of Translingual would be an improvement. Lmaltier 19:07, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
If the only options are ==Latin== and ==Translingual==, then I prefer ==Translingual==, for the reason I gave above; but if there's a third option, which is to list this as ==English== and possibly under other language headers as well (depending on how it's used in different languages), per your comments here and elsewhere, then I'd be O.K. with that — assuming you're correct that international conventions really don't govern the use of specific epithets except in binomial names. —RuakhTALK 00:00, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Okay, so I think we can consider participants in this discussion to favor "Translingual" as a header for these. (And that's fine by me, too.) But this discussion is tucked away here at ES. Perhaps the a BP section should at least point to it before we consider it authoritative.​—msh210 (talk) 18:00, 22 March 2011 (UTC)


etymology of *ǵéwstus

As far as I know Latin gustus and Gothic kustus stem from a zero-grade base, *ǵustus, not from the e-grade form *ǵéwstus. *ǵéwstus would have given Gothic *kiustus. I would like to move the lemma accordingly and delete or comment out the declension table, which shows an e-grade nominative. Any objections? --MaEr 20:04, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

The declension table shows that the noun has ablaut, and the nouns in both languages could be based on the zero grade forms. So I think the form could fit after all. —CodeCat 20:15, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Pokorny (Indogerm. Ety. Wörterbuch) and Philippa (Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands) assume ǵustus (zero-grade nominative). I'd rather rely on them, not on the table. From where comes the information that the nominative has e-grade? --MaEr 20:51, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I think u-stems with the -tu- suffix are always proterokinetic, so that would mean they always showed this kind of ablaut in PIE. —CodeCat 20:58, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I understand. I guess the zero-grade nominative *ǵustus has evolved from the e-grade nominative *ǵewstus under influence of those cases which have zero-grade ablaut, analogy within the paradigm thus. --MaEr 07:59, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


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