Scientific names, why are we loath to use them?

dezza

Well-known member
I have been reading a few old books on angling recently, an one thing I have noticed is that the writers often use the Greco/Latin scientific name for a lot of our species of fish.

I rather like the scientific names, they seem to have romantic meanings somehow.

I like the idea of saying that "I annexed a fine specimen of Scardinius erythropthalmus", instead of "I hooked a rudd."

Or "there goes a Leuciscus cephalus in the stream", instead of "there's a chub."

Even lowly born JW Martin often refers to the scientic name for the species being discussed. So why do we not use the scientific names more often

Here is a list of them for future reference.

Barbel... Barbus barbus
Carp... Cyprinus carpio
Tench... Tinca tinca
Roach... Rutilus rutilus
Bream... Abramis brama
Dace... Leuciscus leuciscus
Chub... Leuciscus cephalus
Perch... Perca fluviatilis
Rudd... Scardinius erythropthalmus
Brown Trout... Salmo trutta
Pike... Esox lucius

The names roll off the tongue, don't they?

:):):)
 
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S-Kippy

Well-known member
Yes...I can see this catching on...not !

Incidentally...which came first ? Do we call a perch [say] a perch because its really a perca fluviatilis or does/did perca fluviatilis derive from perch :confused:. The species were around before Linnaeus stuck his oar in after all.

Me and my mate never refer to pike as pike...always esox and always have done. I dont know why...I think we're just weird.
 
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barbelboi

Well-known member
[FONT=&quot]Of course they do Ron. So, what do to next?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Latin was, to a large degree, phonetically written. So when pronouncing Latin names, do you make sure you pronounce every syllable? Or use the "modern" pronunciation of the proper Latin one? I think it all depends on your personality and the people you converse "Latin" names with. Using the "modern" form is easier for English speakers and it is surely widespread here. The drawback is that it goes against the goal of scientific names being universal. Non-English speakers won’t necessarily understand what you say. On the other hand if you use proper Latin pronunciation, people familiar with the "modern" form will think you are mispronouncing names. Considering the universality goal of scientific names, the fact that most tropical fish come from non-English speaking countries, and that a significant portion of the scientific body of knowledge also comes from non-English speaking countries, I’ll stick to as true a Latin pronunciation as I can.[/FONT][FONT=&quot] So far I’m comfortable with ‘tinca’ & 'percy' oops 'perca'.:w;):wh[/FONT]
 

Alan Tyler

Well-known member
A lot of it stems from the Victorian teaching that it was poor style to use the same word twice in one sentence.
This seems to have streched itself into the idea that elegant prose contains absolutely no repetition.
This led to writers whose work reeked of the thesaurus; who, having embarked upon an article on pike, felt that good taste compelled them to refer to them next as "Esox"; "our intended quarry"; "the cunning Luce"; the "water wolf", on and on until it became the "Assassin of the Deep", "Voldemort", or "the fish whose name hacks dare not write (twice)".

The only time scientific nomenclature is required in an angling article is if there's a chance of it going international - and thanks to the internet, that can be anytime - and causing confusion with another species with the same common name. Various bream, bass, mullet and chub spring to mind.
An extreme example was when a chap read that a decapitated roach had been kept alive for days, being fed glucose solution applied to its midgut with a pipette.
How could this be, he asked, both from the cruelty aspect and the obvious deadliness of such a wound to a fish?
"Roach", it transpired, was U.S. slang for "Cockroach". Blushes would have been spared, had the ghoulish entomologist backed up "Roach" with (Periplaneta americana).

Sorry, wrong: another time it's necessary is when one species has lots of common names, like the dolphin fish/dorado/whatever.
 
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S-Kippy

Well-known member
Jerry you've obviously had a very busy day.Go and lie down...it will soon pass.:)

I Googled "Esox" and very quickly wished I hadn't.
 

dezza

Well-known member
Some of these names describe exactly the fish in all it's glory.

For example Esox lucius

Esox is Latin for a type of fish.
lucius is also Latin meaning wolf like.

Sort of describes a pike doesn't it? Lots of the old writers used to refer to "water wolf".
 

Simon K

Well-known member
I use latin names more than common in my work with reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, but in dealing with so many species and sub-species it's easier to know that you're being precise with identification this way.

Certainly the common names of UK fish species (Carp, Chub, Pike etc) were in common usage long before they were categorised in the Linnaen system, along with the many colloquial variants (Chub, Chevin, Chavender etc) and the latin has largely been based on the common. Hence why the current usage. Walton's "The Compleat Angler" dates from over 100 years before Linnaeus and uses the same common names we use today.

It's probably because there just aren't that many species or sub-species in this country that we don't need the precision of latin for identification?

I believe it is still unknown where the word "Chub" derives from.
 

S-Kippy

Well-known member
I must say I do like some of the "alternative" names,some of which are used more often than you might think ie chevin,redfin etc . Others rarely eg dart,luce,penk etc

Thinking about it in addition to esox I nearly always refer to gudgeon as "gobios" but tench only occasionally as tincas. The rest normally by their common names except chub which have always been "rubadubdub" to me but that's my West London upbringing and a bit of "Mockney" slang creeping in.
 
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Alan Tyler

Well-known member
Tasty breme, goujon, truite, tanche et -sorry, and perche would have had their lordly Norman names brung over by the ******* and his pals, while the less edible roach, rudd and such may have been able to hang on to their Saxon ( or British -"Gwyniad" doesn't look very Saxon) names. A bit like the poor old Saxon serfs looked after cattle, swine and sheep, but once on the lord's plate, their flesh was frenchified to beef, pork and mutton.

I think there may have been an ichthyological wild goose chase (pardon the canarde (and the pun)) when a fish called the Skelly was reported from Galloway. It turned out to be an English report of a Scot refering t a "Scaley"- a chub.
A bit like "Stret-pegging".
 

Bob Hornegold

Well-known member
No no no, three years at a Northern Horticultural College, suffering from Northern Accents pronoucing Linnacus Specific Plant Names nearly gave me a Nervous breakdown !!

Why in the world would a Dyslexic want to spoil the only Hobby they were any good at and where the common names cover all he would want to know !!

:p

Bob
 

Jeff Woodhouse

Moaning Marlow Meldrew
I always thought that the main pupose of having latin names was to avoid confusion between species. EG: the monkfish, which everyone now seems to think is this -

An angler fish, but to me, a monkfish will always be squatina squatina -


Personally, I blame the chefs as they only see the meat of these fish and never the fish itself (usually). Probably because they are so tough to skin and fillet.
 

barbelboi

Well-known member
I can never remember the latin for sea bass but thankfully it never stops me locating it on a menu.:w
 

Jeff Woodhouse

Moaning Marlow Meldrew
From Wikipedia - "Debate has been ferocious in Britain in recent years as to the origin of the word "seabass". The traditional word was "bass" but that has changed with the recent popularity of cooking programmes and the expansion of restaurant marketing, both of which have adopted the phrase "seabass". There is only one type of bass in the British Isles and thus the expression "seabass" is probably unnecessary"

Chefs again, see?
 

Lord Paul of Sheffield

Well-known member
No no no, three years at a Northern Horticultural College, suffering from Northern Accents pronoucing Linnacus Specific Plant Names nearly gave me a Nervous breakdown !!

Why in the world would a Dyslexic want to spoil the only Hobby they were any good at and where the common names cover all he would want to know !!

:p

Bob
Yes we dyslexics have it hard enough as it is without Latin names
 
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