[Tweeters] Proper writing of bird common names

Rolan Nelson rnbuffle at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 13 21:05:14 PST 2006

Call it poetic license if you will, but I've taken to dropping all the hyphens as a nuisance.  I tend to look for Ground Doves under the "D" portion in the index with all the other doves.
  Ain't it fun workin' with a living language!

"Guttman,Burton" <GuttmanB at evergreen.edu> wrote:
            This question comes up about, oh, roughly every two years, so I guess we were due for it.  Others who have replied have made the principal points about distinguishing real names from nouns with adjectives, and so on.  I only want to point out that there is no consistent editorial policy across all publications.  Technical ornithological journals use capitalization, but many popular bird magazines, such as Birdwatcher's Digest, do not, and newspapers have long had a down-style policy--only capitalize certain important terms.  Go figure.  While we're on the subject, we ought to notice that if the adjectival part of a name is hyphenated, as "Black-throated" or "Yellow-rumped," only the first word is capitalized.  But oddly enough when the other part of a name is complex and hyphenated, as "Ground-Dove" or "Night-Heron," both words are capitalized.  I wonder how this policy originated, as I don't see any justification for it.

    Burt Guttman
  The Evergreen State College
  Olympia, WA 98505      guttmanb at evergreen.edu
  Home:  7334 Holmes Island Road S. E., Olympia, 98503

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Rolan Nelson
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rnbuffle at yahoo.com
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