Taxonomy translation source

I would like to be able to quickly translate the taxonomy name and get an understanding for why the specific taxonomy name was used, taxonomy etymology. Rarely this information is included on pages such as wiki or others. Is there such a resource?
Thanks!

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You should find this information in the document in which the name in question is given for the first time, normally.

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It is sometimes provided in the paper where the species was first described, typically under an etymology subheading, but the naming authority isn’t under any obligation to state why they picked a particular name so in most cases it’s just guesswork.

That said, a lot of names and parts of names do come up repeatedly. You will often find the species name brevipes or grandiflora – from Latin meaning short-legged or big-flowered respectively – for example. There are indeed references where you can look these up, which can help enormously.

If you are interested in this, and how taxonomic names are chosen etc (including the many names that are in-jokes!) then I highly recommend The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names by John Wright. It’s a pretty light and entertaining read.

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If you want a more erudite and academic treatment you can’t do better than looking at Botanical Latin by William T. Stearn.

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I have found this to be frustrating (if I’m correct in your request). I was trying to track down the taxonomic history of Xestia c-nigrum ( a moth) this morning. I found lots of synonyms for it, but no links to original taxonomic sources. I frequently use Google Scholar for this sort of stuff, but often the names have been changed decades or more ago, and there few references. I suppose it might be possible to find an original paper by Linnaeus, but I have yet to find one. If you want to find out the taxonomical history of a taxon, it may prove to be a challenge.

The basionym of Xestia c-nigrum is Phalaena c-nigrum Linnaeus, 1758

https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/10277#page/538/mode/1up

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True, but it has also changed genera and species names (from Moth Photographers Group http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=10942). Trying to sort out all this would need days for duffers like us!
Phalaena c-nigrum Linnaeus, 1758
Xestia adela Franclemont, 1980
Agrotis degenerata Staudinger, 1889
Agrotis depravata Bang-Haas, 1912
Amathes ignorata Eitschberger, 1972
Diarsia kurilana Bryk, 1942
Bombyx nunatrum Esper, 1786
Bombyx singularis Esper, 1786
Taxonomic Notes: Xestia c-nigrum: Includes as a subspecies Xestia adela [10942].

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You can search latin to english translators on the internet, which will indicate translations for some species names.

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and some are in Greek

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…and besides Latin and Greek, lots are derived from other languages. Or names of people or places (typically with Latin suffixes added). Or sometimes even wordplay like anagrams. And occasionally just something entirely invented that the describing authority liked the sound of!

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There’s not really a quick way to do it, but The Composition of Scientific Words by Roland Brown is a good reference. It’s available as a free download in various formats:
https://archive.org/details/compositionofsci00brow

The habit of writing the etymology in the description has become common only in the past 40 years or so. Many older ones had nothing, and they often used obscure references from the classics education that most college-educated people received through the 1800s. For example, the bee genus Hylaeus comes from the name of a centaur. The wasp genus Bethylus (similar to the one in my avi) comes from the French bétyle, an upright black stone used to mark a sacred spot, which in turn comes from the Hebrew beth-el, house of god.

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Try some of these links.
May e of some help
https://davesgarden.com/guides/botanary/#b
http://www.uvm.edu/rsenr/wfb232/Dictionary%20of%20Word%20Roots%20&%20Combining%20Forms.pdf
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_and_Greek_words_commonly_used_in_systematic_names

Esperanto for biologists. Full of made up to fit words.

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Technically, words from any language may be used, although by convention they are “Latinized.” For instance, Ixora: according to The Conservatory of Flowers,

The genus name Ixora is a Portuguese translation of Isvara meaning ‘lord’ in Sanskrit and is a reference to the god Siva.

Theoretically, one could use actual Esperanto words, since Esperanto is a real language, albeit a constructed one. As for me, I would like to see Láadan words. Maybe I’ll use them if I ever get to describe a new taxon. But if the new taxon I get to describe is from the Greater Antilles, I will first look for suitable Taíno words.

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Yes, some of the scientific names applied in the 19th century by certain zoologists were apparently “nonsense” names, possibly anagrams of real names or words. It can be really tough to figure out the etymology of some older scientific names unless the author actually explained their naming. Others are pretty evident if you know some Latin or Ancient Greek.

Depending on the taxa you’re interested in, there are some publications out there that address the etymology of scientific names … there’s a nice checklist for Odonata of North America that includes etymology.
https://www.odonatacentral.org/docs/NA_Odonata_Checklist.pdf

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Such as the Cape petrel. One of its common names is pintado. Its genus is Daption, which is an anagram of pintado.

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An arbitrary combination of letters is also allowable, although it’s bad form to make it unpronouncable. And as noted above there are several genera where related ones or subgroups have been named using anagrams. For example with Drosophila, there are the genera and subgenera Dorsilopha, Phloridosa, Siphlodora, and Lordiphosa. There’s a similar situation with the fungus gnat genus Platyura (the only one I know offhand is Tylparua but IIRC there are quite a few others).

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Grateful that the only one I have come across is Cotyledon versus Tylecodon.

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I’ve mostly focused on bees and wasps, plants, bats, etc. Isn’t it true that even if other languages/combinations “can” be used, that at least for these taxa some form of latin (preferably) or greek is typically ideal to use for new names, for consistency?

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The ICZN code says the following:

11.2. Mandatory use of Latin alphabet

A scientific name must, when first published, have been spelled only in the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet (taken to include the letters j, k, w and y); the presence in a name when first published of diacritic and other marks, apostrophes or ligatures, or a hyphen, or a numeral in a compound species-group name, does not render the name unavailable (for corrections, see Articles 27 and 32.5.2).

11.3. Derivation

Providing it meets the requirements of this Chapter, a name may be a word in or derived from Latin, Greek or any other language (even one with no alphabet), or be formed from such a word. It may be an arbitrary combination of letters providing this is formed to be used as a word.

Examples. Toxostoma and brachyrhynchos from the Greek; opossum from the Algonquian Indian; Abudefduf from the Arabic; korsac from the Russian; nakpo from the Tibetan; canguru from the Kokoimudji Aboriginal; Gythemon, an arbitrary combination of letters. The arbitrary combination of letters cbafdg cannot be used as a word and does not form a name.

Recommendation 11A. Use of vernacular names. An unmodified vernacular word should not be used as a scientific name. Appropriate latinization is the preferred means of formation of names from vernacular words.

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