Three types of zoological common names and their formation-processes

Philip Shaw


Known biological species have a standard international scientific name, and many species also have more or less fixed common names in one or more languages. We can identify three groups of common names in terms of their form and formation-processes, here called folk, collector, and popularizing. The folk names have long been studied in detail. The collector names have attracted little attention although they show an interesting variety of formation processes and cross-linguistic contrasts reveal interesting social differences. The popularizing names are the most mechanically formed, but the naming patterns reflect interesting aspects of their origin in a nineteenth-century liberal project, in particular nationalism. In this study I examine these types of name and naming process. Comparisons are made among English, French, German, and Swedish, elucidating the formation processes and the differences in word-formation traditions, entomological history, and society they may reflect.


terminology; biology; butterflies; vernacular names; history of science; English; French; German; Swedish

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