"Nomenclatura" redirects here. For the Soviet elites, see Nomenklatura
is a system
or terms, or the rules for forming these terms in a particular field of arts or sciences.
The principles of naming vary from the relatively informal conventions
of everyday speech to the internationally agreed principles, rules and recommendations that govern the formation and use of the specialist terms used in scientific and any other disciplines.
The word nomenclature
is derived from the Latinnomen
'), and calare
('to call'). The Latin term nomenclatura
refers to a list of names, as does the word nomenclator
, which can also indicate a provider or announcer of names.
Onomastics and nomenclature
The study of proper names
is known as onomastics
, which has a wide-ranging scope that encompasses all names, languages, and geographical regions, as well as cultural areas
The distinction between onomastics and nomenclature is not readily clear: onomastics is an unfamiliar discipline to most people, and the use of nomenclature in an academic sense is also not commonly known. Although the two fields integrate, nomenclature concerns itself more with the rules and conventions that are used for the formation of names.
Influence of social, political, religious factors
Due to social, political, religious, and cultural motivations, things that are the same may be given different names, while different things may be given the same name; closely related similar things may be considered separate, while on the other hand significantly different things might be considered the same.
Names provide us with a way of structuring and mapping
the world in our minds
so, in some way, they mirror or represent the objects of our experience.
Names, words, language, meaning
Modern scientific taxonomy has been described as "basically a Renaissance codification of folk taxonomic principles.
Formal systems of scientific nomenclature and classification
are exemplified by biological classification
. All classification systems
are established for a purpose. The scientific classification system anchors each organism within the nested hierarchy
of internationally accepted classification categories. Maintenance of this system involves formal rules of nomenclature and periodic international meetings of review. This modern system evolved from the folk taxonomy of prehistory.
can be illustrated through the Western tradition of horticulture
. Unlike scientific taxonomy, folk taxonomies serve many purposes. Examples in horticulture would be the grouping of plants, and naming of these groups, according to their properties and uses:
Folk taxonomy is generally associated with the way rural or indigenous peoples use language to make sense of and organise the objects around them. Ethnobiology
frames this interpretation through either "utilitarianists
" like Bronislaw Malinowski
who maintain that names and classifications reflect mainly material concerns, and "intellectualists" like Claude Lévi-Strauss
who hold that they spring from innate mental processes.
The literature of ethnobiological classifications was reviewed in 2006.
Folk classification is defined by the way in which members of a language community name and categorize plants and animals whereas ethnotaxonomy
refers to the hierarchical structure, organic content, and cultural function of biological classification that ethnobiologists find in every society around the world.:14
of the naming and classification of animals and plants in non-Western societies have revealed some general principles that indicate pre-scientific man's conceptual and linguistic method of organising the biological world in a hierarchical way.
Such studies indicate that the urge to classify is a basic human instinct.
- in all languages natural groups of organisms are distinguished (present-day taxa)
- these groups are arranged into more inclusive groups or ethnobiological categories
- in all languages there are about five or six ethnobiological categories of graded inclusiveness
- these groups (ethnobiological categories) are arranged hierarchically, generally into mutually exclusive ranks
- the ranks at which particular organisms are named and classified is often similar in different cultures
The levels, moving from the most to least inclusive, are:
- "unique beginner" — e.g. plant or animal. A single all-inclusive name rarely used in folk taxonomies but loosely equivalent to an original living thing, a "common ancestor"
- "life form" — e.g. tree, bird, grass and fish. These are usually primary lexemes (basic linguistic units) loosely equivalent to a phylum or major biological division.
- "generic name" — e.g. oak, pine, robin, catfish. This is the most numerous and basic building block of all folk taxonomies, the most frequently referred to, the most important psychologically, and among the first learned by children. These names can usually be associated directly with a second level group. Like life-form names these are primary lexemes.
- "specific name" — e.g. white fir, post oak. More or less equivalent to species. A secondary lexeme and generally less frequent than generic names.
- "varietal name" — e.g. baby lima bean, butter lima bean.
In almost all cultures objects are named using one or two words equivalent to 'kind' (genus
) and 'particular kind' (species
When made up of two words (a binomial
) the name usually consists of a noun (like salt
) and an adjectival second word that helps describe the first, and therefore makes the name, as a whole, more "specific," for example, lap dog
, sea salt
, or film star
. The meaning of the noun used for a common name may have been lost or forgotten (whelk
) but when the common name is extended to two or more words much more is conveyed about the organism's use, appearance or other special properties (sting ray
, poison apple
, giant stinking hogweed
, hammerhead shark
). These noun-adjective binomials are just like our own names with a family or surname like Simpson
and another adjectival Christian or forename name that specifies which Simpson, say Homer Simpson
. It seems reasonable to assume that the form of scientific names we call binomial nomenclature
is derived from this simple and practical way of constructing common names—but with the use of Latin as a universal language.
In keeping with the utilitarian view other authors maintain that ethnotaxonomies resemble more a "complex web of resemblances" than a neat hierarchy.
Names and nouns
A name is a label for any noun: names can identify a class or category
of things; or a single thing, either uniquely or within a given context
. Names are given, for example, to humans
or any other organisms
—as in brand
names—and even to ideas
. It is names as nouns that are the building blocks of nomenclature.
The word name
is possibly derived from the Proto-Indo-European language
hypothesised word nomn
The distinction between names and nouns, if made at all, is extremely subtle,
although clearly noun
refers to names as lexical categories
and their function within the context of language,
rather that as "labels" for objects and properties.
Human personal names
, also referred to as prosoponyms
are presented, used and categorised in many ways depending on the language and culture. In most cultures (Indonesia is one exception) it is customary for individuals to be given at least two names. In Western culture, the first name is given at birth or shortly thereafter and is referred to as the given name
, the forename
, the baptismal name
(if given then), or simply the first name
. In England prior to the Norman invasion of 1066, small communities of Celts
generally used single names: each person was identified by a single name as either a personal name or nickname
. As the population increased, it gradually became necessary to identify people further—giving rise to names like John the butcher, Henry from Sutton, and Roger son of Richard...which naturally evolved into John Butcher, Henry Sutton, and Roger Richardson. We now know this additional name variously as the second name
, last name
, family name
or occasionally the byname
, and this natural tendency was accelerated by the Norman tradition of using surnames that were fixed and hereditary within individual families. In combination these two names are now known as the personal name or, simply, the name. There are many exceptions to this general rule: Westerners often insert a third or more names between the given and surnames; Chinese and Hungarian names have the family name preceding the given name; females now often retain their maiden names (their family surname) or combine, using a hyphen, their maiden name and the surname of their husband; some East Slavic nations insert the patronym (a name derived from the given name of the father) between the given and the family name; in Iceland the given name is used with the patronym, or matronym (a name derived from the given name of the mother), and surnames are rarely used. Nicknames
(sometimes called hypocoristic
names) are informal names used mostly between friends.
Common names and proper names
The distinction between proper names
and common names
is that proper names denote a unique entity e.g. London Bridge
, while common names are used in a more general sense in reference to a class of objects e.g. bridge
. Many proper names are obscure in meaning as they lack any apparent meaning in the way that ordinary words mean, probably for the practical reason that when they consist of Collective nouns
, they refer to groups, even when they are inflected for the singular
e.g. "committee". Concrete nouns
like “cabbage” refer to physical bodies that can be observed by at least one of the senses while abstract nouns
, like “love” and “hate” refer to abstract objects. In English, many abstract nouns are formed by adding noun-forming suffixes ('-ness', '-ity', '-tion') to adjectives or verbs e.g. "happiness," "serenity," “concentration.” Pronouns
like "he", "it", "which", and "those" stand in place of nouns in noun phrases
The capitalization of nouns varies with language and even the particular context: journals often have their own house styles
for common names.
Distinctions may be made between particular kinds of names simply by using the suffix -onym
, from the Greek ónoma
(ὄνομα, 'name'). So we have, for example, hydronyms
name bodies of water, synonyms
are names with the same meaning, and so on. The entire field could be described as chrematonymy—the names of things.
Toponyms are proper names
given to various geographical features (geonyms), and also to cosmic features (cosmonyms). This could include names of mountains, rivers, seas, villages, towns, cities, countries, planets, stars etc. Toponymy can be further divided into specialist branches, like: choronymy
, the study of proper names of regions and countries; econymy
, the study of proper names of villages, towns and citties; hodonymy
, the study of proper names of streets and roads; hydronymy
, the study of proper names of water bodies; oronymy
, the study of proper names of mountains and hills, etc.
Toponymy has popular appeal because of its socio-cultural and historical interest and significance for cartography
. However, work on the etymology of toponyms has found that many place names are descriptive, honorific or commemorative but frequently they have no meaning or the meaning is obscure or lost. Also the many categories of names are frequently interrelated. For example, many place-names are derived from personal names (Victoria), many names of planets and stars are derived from the names of mythological
), and many personal names are derived from place-names, names of nations and the like (Wood, Bridge).
Nomenclature, classification, identification
In a strictly scientific sense, nomenclature is regarded as a part of (though distinct from) taxonomy. Moreover, the precision demanded by science in the accurate naming of objects in the natural world has resulted in a variety of international nomenclatural codes.
can be defined as the study of classification
including its principles, procedures and rules,:8
itself is the ordering of taxa (the objects of classification) into groups based on similarities or differences.
Doing taxonomy entails identifying, describing,
and naming taxa,
therefore nomenclature, in the scientific sense, is the branch of taxonomy concerned with the application of scientific names to taxa
, based on a particular classification scheme, in accordance with agreed international rules and conventions.
determines whether a particular organism matches a taxon that has already been classified and named – so classification must precede identification.
This procedure is sometimes referred to as determination
’ system of binomial nomenclature
was rapidly adopted after the publication of his Species Plantarum
and Systema Naturae
in 1753 and 1758 respectively, it was a long time before there was international consensus concerning the more general rules governing biological nomenclature
. The first botanical code was produced in 1905, the zoological code in 1889 and cultivated plant code in 1953. Agreement on the nomenclature and symbols for genes emerged in 1979.
Over the last few hundred years, the number of identified astronomical objects has risen from hundreds to over a billion, and more are discovered every year. Astronomers need universal systematic designations to unambiguously identify all of these objects using astronomical naming conventions
, while assigning names to the most interesting objects and, where relevant, naming important or interesting features of those objects.
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