But it's payback time. In July, The International Botanical Congress voted to relax the rules that required that all new plant species be described in Latin. This move breaks with a tradition that botanists had maintained since the Renaissance. James Miller, a botanist at the New York Botanical Garden, explained why this change makes sense:
Miller is a big fan of the relaxed rule, which, along with another measure allowing species to be published in electronic journals alone, will remove bottlenecks in the process of getting new flora out there.
When he published the discovery of a small tropical tree called Cordia koemarae, he had to write a Latin description that ran to 100 words and included: “Folia persistentia; laminae anisophyllae, foliis majoribus ellipticis.” Roughly translated: The tree hangs on to its leaves, which vary by size. The bigger leaf blades are elliptical.
“The bottom line is that only a tiny percentage of us really learn much Latin and are really capable of writing a grammatically correct description,” he said. “It’s an additional encumbrance.”
Link -via @brainpicker | Image of the Roman poet Virgil via QuartierLatin1968