Are rank abbreviations translated in other languages?

For example, in Ensatina eschscholtzii ssp. xanthoptica, should the “ssp.” be translated when viewed in Japanese or Russian? We currently don’t allow this to be translated, but should we?

Can I ask why would you need it? Latin names are not translated, so these Latin words shouldn’t be too, but creating a table with different words or a link to one, maybe that could be helpful for new users. Plus local subspecies name is written on a taxon page.

Being integral parts of the scientific names, which are governed by the applicable international codes of nomenclature, I think ranks and their abbreviations neither need to be nor should be translated.

Whether or not this is done in actual practice in other languages, I don’t know.

@jdmore, can you point to the part of the ICZN or ICPN codes that says ranks are a part of the name and should not be translated? Article 5.2 of the ICZN, for example, explicitly says,

The scientific name of a subspecies is a combination of three names

and makes no mention of ranks.

I guess I have two questions:

  1. Does nomenclatural codes say anything about ranks in names and if they should be translated?
  2. Do writers in non-Latinate languages conventionally translate ranks and their abbreviations?

Some relevant parts of the ICN (plants etc.) are:
Principle V
Article 4 (taxa and their ranks)
Article 21.1 (subdivisions of genera)
Article 24.1 (names of infraspecific taxa)
In plants, the principal ranks are mostly denoted by position and orthography, and are rarely named explicitly as part of a scientific name.

I am much less versed in the ICZN, but to the best of my understanding, it accepts many fewer ranks, and rank name is almost always assumed by position and typography and not spelled out. So in a trinomial (“trinomen”), the third epithet is assumed to be the name of the taxon at the rank of subspecies (Art. 45.6). Subdivisions of genera are always assumed to be at the rank of subgenus (Art. 10.4). (Apologies to zoologists if I’ve oversimplified here.)

The codes appear to be silent on translation into other languages. But the codes are the final word on the formation of scientific names, and they do specify what the names of ranks are. Names that don’t conform to those codes would not be correct scientific names, and in my opinion should therefore not be part of the Scientific Name lexicon in iNaturalist (translated or otherwise).

Good question. If they do, though, I don’t think they should be represented as scientific names, either explicitly or implied by context. With that caveat, I don’t otherwise object to translating rank names on iNaturalist.

  1. Not explicitly, as far as I can tell. For instance, the Shenzhen code of botanical nomenclature gives rules and recommendations about the ranks - these are expressed in english and latin (div. II chap. I, art. 3-5), as are their abbreviations. No mention of translation rules… weakly implying that no translation is to take place?
  2. I have sometimes stumbled upon latin “connecting words” or (perhaps more frequently) “appended words” being translated. Two examples: respectively, Untergatt. (Untergattung) instead of subg. (subgenus) in German ; or comb. nouv. (combinaison nouvelle) instead of comb. nov. (combinatio nova) in French. Mostly in old works, let’s say pre-1950… and it’s not customary.

edit: Untergattung, not Subgattung. Faulty memory cells.


A little more toward the second question about non-Latinate languages, for what it’s worth…

The Flora of China project included Chinese common names and author names, but otherwise used Latin scientific names and English text without translation. Example: the 2009 Orchidaceae treatment. That’s an editorial choice that another technical work like that might make differently, though at peril of the work not being used much outside its linguistic territory.

Not sure how much one would find names of taxonomic ranks used outside of such technical works though…

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.