While this is food for few, the subject may be interesting enough for those who find it cumbersome to dig through the rules of the ICZN Code when they need to name a new taxon. Vendetti & Garland has just published a practical guide, stating “The formation of scientific names for species may be challenging for modern systematists without a background in Latin or familiarity with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Therefore, presented here are 10 pragmatic and simplified strategies for creating zoological species names. They are intended to demystify the derivation and construction of species names and facilitate the process of naming species for a broad audience of zoologists working in systematics”.
Their 10 strategies are the following:
1. As a Latin singular or plural noun in the genitive case;
2. As a Latin singular present participle active (PPA) in the nominative case;
3. As a Latin singular noun in the nominative case used in apposition;
4. As a non-Latin singular noun used in apposition;
5. Named after a person or persons, as a Latin singular or plural noun in the genitive case;
6. As a Latin singular adjective in the nominative case;
7. As a Latin singular perfect passive participle (PPP) in the nominative case;
8. For a geographic name, as a Latin singular adjective in the nominative case;
9. As compound word composed of Latin + Latin, Greek + Latin, or Greek + Greek word elements;
10. As an arbitrary combination of letters, singular or plural.
For each strategy they provide a clear explanation with examples from different phyla, and a practical application. In several cases with further examples, like this:
Although it requires some sensitivity for linguistics, the overall impression is that with this paper naming a new taxon is do-able, even for those who did not have classes Latin and Greek at school. In this context I also like to draw attention to the paper ‘A name is a name is a name’ by Peter Dance, who offers 19 additional viewpoints to naming a species.
Dance, S.P., 2009. A name is a name is a name: some thoughts and personal opinions about molluscan scientific names. Zoologische Mededelingen Leiden 83(7): 565-576.
Vendetti, J.E. & Garland, R., 2020. Species name formation for zoologists: a pragmatic approach, Journal of Natural History 53(47-48): 2999-3018.