23. Patronyms (for aspiring taxonomists) (2023)


If you want to become a taxonomist, you need to learn the basicsof Latin grammar, and for this you would do best to take formalcourses in Latin. You also need to study several editions of theInternational Code of Zoological nomenclature (ICZN 1964, 1985,1999) and understand how the rules changed from edition to edition.

When you have studied Latin you will understand that Latinnouns, adjectives, and participles have gender [masculine, feminine,and neuter] and are grouped into declensions with varying terminations(to indicate the 6 cases in the singular and 6 in the plural),and that adjectives and participles must agree in gender withthe nouns that they qualify. If, now, you want to honor someoneby naming a new species for him/her (this assumes the personis still living), or name a species after him/her (thisassumes that the person is dead), then the following notes aboutcreation of patronyms apply. A patronym is a scientificname created to honor a person [contrast with a toponymwhich names a species for a place]. Here, it applies only to thecreation of species names.

These notes were written to aid Dr Khuong Nguyen (nematologist,Entomology & Nematology Department, UF) in selecting appropriatepatronyms and is so reflected by examples below. His wife's nameis Sam. The notes are based on ICZN. His name is masculine, hersis feminine, and these things are important in Latin grammar.

Names of genera of animals and plants are nouns in the singularand have gender [are either masculine or feminine or neuter].You [the taxonomist] must determine [find out from previous usage]the gender of a generic name within which you want to create anew species-group name. A species-group name is the 2nd word inthe name of a species (a binomen) or the 3rd in the name of asubspecies (a trinomen).

GENERAL RULE: Article 31 (a): A species-group name formed froma personal name may be either a noun in the genitive case[1], a noun in apposition [2], or an adjective [3]or participle [4].

[1] Article 31 (a) (ii): A species-group name, if a noun inthe genitive case formed directly from a modern personal name,is to be formed by adding to the stem [*] of that name -iif the personal name is that of a man, -orum if of menor of man (men) and woman (women) together, -ae if of awoman, and -arum if of women.
Examples: Steinernema nguyeni (named for Khuong)
Xenorhabdus nguyeni (named for Khuong)
Paramecium nguyeni (named for Khuong)
Steinernema nguyenae (named for Sam)
Xenorhabdus nguyenae (named for Sam)
Paramecium nguyenae (named for Sam)
Steinernema nguyenorum (named for Khuong and Sam)
Steinernema nguyenarum (for Sam and her daughter)

[*] Many modern names do not have a stem (as defined in Latin),but a few men's names (e.g., Augustus, Julius) and many women'snames (e.g., Alberta, Cristina, Helena, Julia, Maria, Roberta,Susana, Victoria, etc.) are in Latin form and so are treated asif the stem were August-, Juli-, Albert-, Cristin-, Helen-, Juli-,Mari-, Robert-, Susan-, Victori-, to which the genitive termination-i (for men) or -ae (for women) is added (augusti, julii, albertae,cristinae, helenae, juliae, mariae, robertae, susanae, victoriae).Some modern family-names (e.g., Parelius) that appear to be Latinmay be treated as if they were Latin (with stem Pareli-, givingparelii in the genitive) OR as if they are not Latin andhave no such stem (giving pareliusi in the genitive).

Note: there are other ways that the genitive case of nounsCAN be formed [in all 5 Latin declensions of nouns], but ICZNaccepts only the method shown [in 1] above in which names of womenare all assumed to be first declension feminine nouns, and namesof men are all assumed to be 2nd declension masculine nouns.

[2] Recommendation 31A: An author who establishes a new species-groupname based on a personal name should preferably form the namein the genitive case and not as a noun in apposition in orderto avoid the appearance that the species-group name is a citationof the authorship of the generic name.
Example: Steinernema nguyen is not recommended

[3] Appendix D III: Such a name may also be formed by addingthe adjectival ending -ianus, -iana, -ianumto the entire name [according to whether the generic name is masculine,feminine, or neuter], but it is better to use the genitive singular[formed from the personal name, as in [1] above].
Examples: Steinernema nguyeniana is not recommended
Xenorhabdus nguyenianus is not recommended
Paramecium nguyenianum is not recommended
[these adjectives must agree in gender with the generic name -regardless of whether they are named for Khuong or Sam]

[4] There seems to be no recommendation against using a participle,but it is very unusual (such a form is much more common as a toponymthan as a patronym) and would be poorly understood, so best avoidit. Such names are formed by adding the genitive terminations-ensis, -ensis, or -ense to the stem of the name (or to the entirename if there is no recognizable Latin stem) according to whetherthe generic name is masculine, feminine, or neuter.
Example: Steinernema nguyenensis (generic name is feminine)
Xenorhabdus nguyenensis (generic name is masculine)
Paramecium nguyenense (generic name is neuter)
[these participles, in the genitive case, must agree in genderwith the generic name - regardless of whether they are named forKhuong or Sam]

Potential problems: The rules and recommendations listedabove are clear enough, but article 31 (a)(i) complicates theissue. It states: "A species-group name, if a noun in thegenitive case formed from a personal name that is Latin, or froma modern personal name that is or has been Latinized, is to beformed in accordance with the rules of Latin grammar.
As above, we must assume that the expression "personal name"can be a first-name (e.g., John) or a family-name (e.g., Smith),which are neither Latin nor Latinized.
But if the first-name is a name from classical Latin (other thanwomen's names in the first declension or men's names in the seconddeclension), then the genitive case has a termination other thanshown in [1] above. For example, the name Aeneas (genitive Aeneae)(butnot Andreas, which is not classical Latin so does not form a genitiveAndreae) is masculine, first declension, the names Hector, Hercules(but not Hercule or Herculeo, which are not Latin) and Pericles(genitive Hectoris, Herculis and Periclis respectively) are masculine,4th declension nouns (adopted from Greek).It thus seems that wemay elect to treat such names as either Latin or as being in amodern language. If we choose to treat them as modern names, thenthe genitive cases from which we form patronyms are respectivelyaenei, hectori, herculi, and pericli (following item [1] above).But, if we treat them as classical Latin names, then the genitivecases are respectively aeneae, hectoris, herculis, and periclisfollowing rules of Latin grammar. Your simplest solution (if youdo not want to be bothered with Latin grammatical usage of classicalLatin names) is to follow the rules in item [1] above. As fornames of women ending in -a (the typical Latin form) there isno such problem because the patronyms (?matronyms) terminate in-ae added to the stem no matter whether the names are treatedas Latin or modern. Women's names Beatrix and Victorix (whichwould form the genitive as Beatricis and Victoricis) do not seemto be classical Latin, so the rules in [1] above can be followed.
We now come to family-names that "have been Latinized."In the early days (18th century) of taxonomy, when entire textswere written in Latin, authors had to write their names at leastin nominative and genitive cases in Latin (and possibly also inaccusative, dative, and ablative). Thus, von Linné becameLinnaeus (genitive Linnaei), a second declension masculine noun,but Poda was Latinized as a first declension masculine name (genitivePodae). Such Latinization became less and less common throughthe 19th century and disappeared sometime in the 20th. The recommendationhere is to avoid any new Latinization of such family-names. Inother words, use the method described in [1] above. For example,if you want to form a masculine patronym from the family-nameSmetana, form the genitive as Smetanai following item [1] aboveand do not Latinize the name as a first declension masculine namewhich would give the genitive Smetanae for masculine as well asfeminine. For another example, if you want to form a patronymfrom the family name Smith, form the genitive as Smithi as in[1] above, and do not Latinize the name to Smithius which wouldgive the genitive Smithii.
Finally, we come to family-names that appear to be Latin becausethey end in -ius [but, in fact, are not Latin]. These names, suchas Fabricius and Parelius, are mainly from the Baltic. They areno problem. The family name of Johan Christian Fabricius (1745-1808)has always been treated by biologists as a Latin name, with genitiveFabricii. Modern names of this form may be treated as non-Latin(genitive Pareliusi for a man and Pareliusae for a woman) as in[1] above) or as Latin second declension for a man (genitive Parelii)or first declension (genitive Pareliae) for a woman.

Summary: use the genitive case as shown in [1] above,and forget about nouns in apposition [2], adjectives [3], andparticiples [4]. Do not Latinize names of people whom you wantto honor by patronyms - simply use the method of forming patronymsas shown in [1] above.

Bibliography: The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature1985 (third edition) and 1999 (fourth edition) [note that article31 (a) (3rd edn) is called 31.1 (4th edn), that 31 (a) (i) 3rdedn) is called 31.1.1 (4th edn), and 31 (a) (ii) (3rd edn) iscalled 31.1.2 (4th edn)] and Latin grammars.

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