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Latin Just Got Deader: Botanists Turn Away from Latin

Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be. It killed the ancient Romans,and now it's killing me!

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

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The headline here is a bit misleading. They are not changing the system of Latin plant names, but instead the way new species are described: "Scientists say plants will keep their double-barreled Latin names, but they have decided to drop the requirement that new species be described in the classical language."

So when a new plant species is found, the scientist will write a publication where he gives a regular Latin name to it and explains how this new species differs fron similar old species. This explanation part used to have to be in Latin, from July on it can be in English.
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I don't think that my headline is misleading. If I had said "abandon" instead of "turn away", then yes. But this move does constitute turning away from a focus on Latin.
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Well yes, it is a turn away from a focus on Latin itself in general, but they're not suggesting any change in the system of Latin *plant names*. The Latin description of the species is a different thing than the species name itself.

But this is just a biologist's nitpicking, so take it or leave it :)
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Technically, to say "deader" is an incorrect use of the comparative in two ways. The nature of death is that one cannot be partially dead or "more dead" than something else. It is either dead or not. Death is an absolute. And of course, the correct term would be "more dead", if it could even be used, which, as I have just pointed out, couldn't be anyway.
Yes, colloquially, "deader than a doornail" is in use, but it's like the term "ain't": the intention is slang.

Latin is really moribund, not dead. So you could say, Latin just got more moribund. Or, if you must, "moribunder"...?
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John, they have turned away from Latin in the plant's description but not in their names. Your headline reads "Botanists turn away from Latin plant names" -- which is not true in any sense. That is why the headline is misleading.
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