Instability of scientific nomenclature
Other Names: Inconsistency of biological names
Obsolescence of the Linnaean system of taxonomic naming
Nature: Biologists have worked with the Linnaean system of naming of species for over two centuries. The deficiencies of this system to the modern user are that (a) Latin, a classical language, is the basis; (b) irregular and illogical names have entered into the schema because of the gradual evolution of rules; (c) the abundance of synonyms and homonyms which have arisen from work in independent systematic fields; and (d) the interjection of illogical or erroneous names by previous workers (in good faith) which must now stand unless invalidated for rigorous taxonomic reasons (not for reasons of nomenclature). Whilst such irregularities are accommodated by the professional taxonomist and serious amateur, they can be discouraging to the lay user. Many ordinary people choose not to use scientific naming at all, preferring popular names which carry little or no systematic meaning.
Background: The only system where every known species of living organism has its (potential) name is the scientific nomenclature, conceived by the Swedish scientist C Linneaus in the middle of the 18th century (the so-called Linnaean or binary nomenclature), using mostly Latin or Greek terms for constructing names.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 07.02.1999 – 00:00 CET