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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Vernacular names

Should the names in the == Vertacular names == section be spelled correctly, that is, according to the spelling of the language to which they are assigned?-Rosičák (talk) 10:54, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Because of the doubts, I tried to rationalize and match the sources to present the current help.

Vernacular names

čeština: medvěd malajský[1]
dansk: malajbjørn[2]
Deutsch: Malaienbär[3]
English: Sun Bear[4]
español: oso malayo[5]
français: ours malais[6]
magyar: maláj medve[7]
italiano: orso malese[8]
lietuvių: malajinis lokys[9]
Nederlands: Maleise beer[10]
norsk: malayabjørn[11]
polski: biruang malajski, niedźwiedź malajski[12]
русский: солнечный медведь, медовый медведь, бируанг[13]
slovenščina: sončni medved[14]


  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Names should be written correctly.--Rosičák (talk) 10:54, 7 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Names should be written correctly e. g. should distinguish gramatically correct german (de) first capital (majuscule) and many other languages gramatically correct first small letter (minuscule). Visitors should not be misleaded. --Kusurija (talk) 18:54, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Remember though in UK English Vernacular Names are usually capitalised. Sun Bear not sun bear. Andyboorman (talk) 19:02, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
@Andyboorman:Bingo! So who knows perfect english, should distinguish between cases as Sun Bear and bear or daisy (not Bear or Daisy) (if these are correct - I'm not so good in english). --Kusurija (talk) 19:27, 8 October 2018 (UTC)P. S.: cf. „A ‚sun bear‘ photographed at Miller Park Zoo“--Kusurija (talk) 19:37, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support Unless someone can provide a relevant motivation for the opposite. Dan Koehl (talk) 19:38, 8 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Symbol support vote.svg Support --Franz Xaver (talk) 20:48, 8 October 2018 (UTC)


  •  Comment: In English, first letters of names should be capitalised, as that's what most formal lists do (e.g. IOC, BSBI, MSW, etc.). In all languages, the list should use title case: capitalise the first letter, if that language uses capitals in the title at the start of a page. These are index lists, not text in the middle of a sentence. Also the reminder: VN is not an important part of Wikispecies; stick to one name per language - here is not the place for long lists of often obsolete or rarely used colloquial names. The name listed should be scientifically accurate - we should not be misleading readers with inaccurate names - and preferably the name used in official national lists (unless that conflicts with scientific evidence). Thus, in the list above, e.g. Russian should be Малайский медведь, not "солнечный медведь, медовый медведь, бируанг" - MPF (talk) 09:21, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  •  Comment: ...thank you MPF. Orchi (talk) 17:25, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  •  Comment: ...Whats is meant by scientific accuracy? For example, Wollemia nobilis is known, in English, by the vernacular Wollemi pine, but is not a pine (see the Discussion Page for an attempt by over zealous pedantry to over-rule common sense). Rock roses are Cistus or Helianthemum, not Rosa and then there is the Japanese Umbrella pine - the list goes on. As MPF states it is not that important, but using the most familiar VN for a language is crucial, even if the plant is not botanically a daisy, flax, rose, pine or whatever. There is also a good reason for not insisting on one VN only, for example UK and US VNs can be different and no one culture should have precedence. Andyboorman (talk) 17:51, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
    •  Comment: Language 'us' or 'en-us' for American language is certainly needed; it has been added to the language list at Commons, but not yet here (or at wikidata). Cistus is Rock-rose, hyphenated, to show it isn't a rose. And no, we should not be promoting the misidentification of Wollemia as a pine - this sort of Trumpist fake news needs to be eliminated, not promoted. Facts First, please. - MPF (talk) 19:43, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
      •  Comment:You can not impose your own opinions as "facts" - that is core Trumpism. The world is there as it is and not as you would want to make it. It is factual that the RHS in the UK call Cistus × purpureus Purple-flowered rock rose, the Australians treasure their Wollemi pine and the Kiwi name for Phormium is New Zealand flax. It is unscientific to consign a whole discipline of historic and vernacular knowledge to the dust-bin. WS reflects taxonomy not create it and the same should be for VN. Andyboorman (talk) 20:30, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
        •  Comment: it is not my own opinions. Wollemia is not Pinus; demonstrable scientific fact - do a DNA comparison. Since it is not a pine, it should not be called a pine. To do so is a lie. - MPF (talk) 21:20, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
          •  Comment: DNA is one source of evidence and local cultures another, both are undeniable and factual. This is getting so silly - a VN is a common name used by a particular language group or culture and is never a lie. To deny them its use is cultural fascism. I will not convince you nor you me - please close this as unresolved, but do not interfere with well meaning contributions that have their own justifications, as this causes bad feelings and can be a deterrent to contributions - see Wollemia Discussion page. Andyboorman (talk) 08:12, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
            •  Comment: Local cultures are not scientific; Wikispecies is scientific. Incorrect names may have a place being listed in the wikipedias for those cultures, but not here. And what you say about 'not interfering with well-meaning contributions' works both ways. If you are going to keep reimposing misleading and inaccurate names, that too is a deterrent to contributions. - MPF (talk) 07:06, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
  •  Comment: ...if available to use the name of the article name of the respective country. What about a new abbreviation for: en (american) as for "de" and "de switzerland" = gsw? Orchi (talk) 18:47, 10 October 2018 (UTC)
  •  Comment: Thank you for the comments above. Perhaps we may be inappropriate, outdated or overcome names to refer to this Genus species.--Rosičák (talk) 03:14, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Can someone who hasnt participated in this discussion make an estimate of the consensus, and close the discussion, please? Dan Koehl (talk) 10:14, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

I think it's clear, but I would not like to do it.--Rosičák (talk) 18:17, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

The question hasn't been asked clearly. "Should the names in the == Vertacular names == section be spelled correctly"? Yes of course thet should be spelled correctly, no-one is going to say we should include deliberate typographical errors in names.

The question it seems that Rosičák really wanted to ask is "should the names in the == Vertacular names == list be treated as though they were in the middle of a sentence and not in a list?", as opposed to the current index list which - inevitably and correctly for a list, uses Title case. To this, the answer I would say is

  • Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose, strongly, - because (a) it makes the list very difficult for single users to create: it is one thing for me, as someone without a Cyrillic keyboard, to copy "Зверобой чашечковидный" from Wikidata and paste it into the list; another thing altogether to ask me to hunt down a lower-case "З" on a keyboard that doesn't include it; and (b) it looks incredibly untidy and unprofessional to have a mix of lower case and upper case in an index list. The only case where a vernacular name should not begin with a capital, is if it is in a language which never uses capital letters, not even at the start of a sentence or in the title at the top of a page. - MPF (talk) 10:30, 28 December 2018 (UTC)
It is easy to extend the page MediaWiki:Edittools by inserting characters of different alphabets.

Charmaps tools:

--Rosičák (talk) 16:59, 29 December 2018 (UTC)


Vernacular names should always use correct spelling, with the following praxis in regards to number of vernacular names in the table, and capitalisation (listed in order of importance):

  • When possible we should strive towards only listing one vernacular name per language, and then always an official one, if available. We should add the possibility of using specific ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 languages codes for regional variations of names, e.g. "de" for German, "gsw" for Swiss German. When ISO codes are not available, we may look in to the possibility of using IETF codes instead (e.g. "en-AU" for Australian English).
  • For languages using a writing system with case distinction, the first letter of any given vernacular name should always use upper case, regardless of language. In other words, all vernacular names should at least use "Sentence case".
  • The rule of sentence case should be extended to "Title Case" for languages with such a praxis.

Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 13:32, 11 January 2019 (UTC).

@Tommy Kronkvist:Your conclusion about the Results is not true, as many users expressed different opinion and contraargue is not clear enough, btw. in my opinion also not right (at least, because it is abusive contrary to grammar of some other languages.) I on no way can agree with such conclusions, and, if such mode will be enforced by power, I will not parcipitate here any more. --Kusurija (talk) 18:07, 12 January 2019 (UTC)
One problem is that as a database, Wikispecies should handle all data of a certain type in the same way. When possible, all author pages should be formatted in the same way, all categories should be constructed in the same way, all templates should follow the same standard, and so forth. This is also true for the list of vernacular names. Wikispecies can currently be presented in any of 32 different languages, and for the vast majority of them "Title case" (as desribed in Help:Vernacular names section) is correct. Sadly this may become a problem in some of the languages, but I guess the majority rules... Another example of this is how we have agreed to format author names. As explained in Help:Author Names all middle name initials should be written without spacing, i.e. written as "Gerald A.H. Bedford" and not "Gerald A. H. Bedford". This strikes many users as odd and some – including many of those with English as their mother tongue – even find it outright wrong. Nevertheless we have had this up for vote too, and the outcome of the poll clearly states that the majority prefers the format without spaces. This may be wrong in some languages, but since there is only one version of Wikispecies and that one version must simultaneously serve all the people on Earth regardless of their language, we will sometimes have to make compromises. It's of course easier on Wikipedia where there is one WP version for each language, and every single Wikipedia is supposed to be monolingual. Unfortunately, here at Wikispecies we don't have that luxury. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 14:36, 4 March 2019 (UTC).

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Vernacular names, take two

Hello fellow Wikispecians, Tommy Kronkvist (talk) here, adding a note at 09:41, 30 July 2019 (UTC). The matter of caps in vernacular names is still often discussed on different talk pages here and there. As a result I wish to rise a new RfC regarding the same issue, only this time with a more up-front and stringent question, as follows:

Should the vernacular names in the "Vernacular names" sections on taxon pages be spelled using so called "title case", i.e. with a capitalised first letter, or not?


  • Is this not language-dependent? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 09:54, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    I argue that in this particular case it's not really a matter of language at all, but rather related to Wikispecies' overall layout conventions and GUI. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 10:02, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    I can find not a single German-language web page where "Malaienbär", for example, is written with a lower-case first letter. I am not sufficiently knowledgebale as to be able to assert that there is not a language where the reverse convention applies. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:51, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    In German orthography all nouns are always capitalised, whether they are the first word in a sentence or not. This convention is almost unique to German, shared only by the closely related Luxembourgish language and may be some dialects of the North Frisian language (which is related to German to a somewhat lesser degree.) In my opinion the vernacular names section should be considered a list (with one VN per row), or perhaps a table (with one VN per cell). I believe that throughout all of Wikimedia (regardless of language) it is most common to always capitalise the first item in every row of a list, and that the same is true for the first items in table rows. For the sake of consequence I think it would be best either to always capitalise all vernacular names, or never do it. A mix of caps depending on language is only confusing. As I wrote in March 4, 2019 in the very last post of the now closed thread above: "Wikispecies can currently be presented in any of 32 different languages, and for the vast majority of them 'Title case' (as desribed in Help:Vernacular names section) is correct. Sadly this may become a problem in some of the languages, but I guess the majority rules." After weighing all of these considerations together I opted for voting that all vernacular names should start with caps. Other users may of course come to other conclusions. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 13:50, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    Not only is it language-dependent, it is context dependent. Some names in English derive from proper nouns and are capitalized by convention. We cannot force "spanish moss" when "Spanish moss is clearly correct. Likewise, German always capitalizes nouns. The option to always use lowercase is clearly not usable, yet it is the only alternative offered below: to always capitalize or always use lowercase. Neither option is correct. --EncycloPetey (talk) 16:15, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    I agree that it's context dependent: that's actually one of my main points. Surely we can agree that starting any list item (or sentence, for that matter) with a capital letter is okay in any language, whereas starting with lowercase letters seems more dubious? –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 20:59, 30 July 2019 (UTC).
    Even if I were to agree (and I do not), that doesn't solve all the capitalization issues currently under discussion. Do we use sentence case or capitalize every element? Both suggestions have come up in discussion, and the voting does not distinguish between these two situations. We really need to identify and sort out the various problems in discussion before we start a vote on them. The current vote will only lead to more voting, regardless of how it ends, because it doesn't consider the possibilities. --EncycloPetey (talk) 21:26, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    It's fairly straightforward to me. The alternatives (per the "Votes" section below) are to either start the first word with caps, or not. The rest is of a more academic nature: to my knowledge English is the only language where the rest of the words are ever capitalized (except for proper nouns which of course always use upper case in other Latin script languages as well). –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 16:36, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
    German capitalizes every noun, whether proper or not. French capitalizes some of them, at least in their WP policy, when the vernacular name is applied to a group (class of objects) versus a member (representative of that group). So English is certainly not the only language in consideration. But my point is that we are tackling this issue both backwards and in piecemeal fashion. Normally, one has the discussion first, then votes. And normally a vote is intended to settle the issue, not merely one tiny facet of the issue. Look at the previous discussion, where the vote was whether or not to "spell names correctly". What would the alternative to that be? To spell them incorrectly? Neither the previous vote nor this one was thought out well at all. --EncycloPetey (talk) 17:18, 31 July 2019 (UTC)
    I see your point. It should also be noted that personally I think we ought to scrap the "Vernacular names" section altogether. I've said this a number of times before, and the main reason is that the VNs very rarely add any information related to the taxonomy or nomenclature of taxa. Hence, in my opinion adding vernacular names to the taxon pages is out of scope of the Wikispecies project. I therefore withdraw my vote, and will refrain from commenting any further. However I will of course continue to follow consensus and contribute in accord with any outcome of the voting. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 18:13, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
  •  Comment: In languages which distinguish between capitals and lowercase, the name should be capitalized if the rules of grammar in that language say it should be capitalized, and should not be capitalized if the rules of grammar in that language say it should not be capitalized. German vernacular names should be capitalized because German grammar capitalizes nouns. Names of plants in English should not be capitalized because names like "moss" and "fern" are not capitalized in English. The voting options below do not allow for this fact, and it is premature to call for a vote before the discussion has happened. I will point out that title case is not correct for most Wiktionaries which includes the vernacular names of species. The English Wikipedia Manual of Style says that English vernacular ("common") names are given in lower case, except where proper names appear. (link). --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:07, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  •  Comment: Lists are very often capitalised irrespective of the "correct" spelling. There is no consistency with UK English common names with authorities tending to use there own preferences, however capitalisation is most commonly encountered, for example Fir Clubmoss on Wildlife Trusts website. Andyboorman (talk) 15:26, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    This is not done on the Flora of North America website: example: Spanish-moss, long-moss, black-moss, mousse espagnole, mousse. Here, the vernacular names appear in lowercase type, except for "Spanish" which is normally capitalized because of its etymology from a proper noun. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:34, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    Note that the "Wildlife Trusts" website considers Fir Clubmoss to be a member of the "Mosses and liverworts" (aside: liverworts is not capitalized), yet that no clubmoss (Huperzia in this case) belongs to the bryophytes, as they are vascular plants in the Lycopodiaceae. If this website cannot be trusted with correctness of even basic taxonomic information, then it should not be used as a model for what we are trying to do here. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:39, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
    That the Wildlife Trust page has taxonomic errors is not relevant to capitalisation; what does matter is that they follow the standard capitalisation convention adopted by the botanical naming authority for the region, BSBI, which is to capitalise the first letters of English names. The same convention is adopted by many/most other naming authorities, e.g. IOC for birds; there are many good reasons for doing so, including consistency, the difficulty of determining capitalisation based on etymology, and perhaps most importantly, to indicate that a name is a formal accepted vernacular name (e.g. a common tern can be any species of Sterninae that is abundant, but a Common Tern is the specific taxon Sterna hirundo). - MPF (talk) 17:05, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
    I note that the BSBI does not use sentence case, which is the proposal being made here. On their site every part of the English name is capitalized. However, I fail to see why the British and Irish Botanical Society's choice for one region and one language should be made the standard for all languages and all nations across all taxa. --EncycloPetey (talk) 19:57, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
  •  Comment: Neither of the options laid out for voting below are correct. We cannot force capitalization, and we cannot force lowercase. There are too many exceptions on both sides to make it entirely one or the other. For example, it should be "kelp" not "Kelp", but it should be "Arkansas oak", not "arkansas oak". We cannot claim that either capitalization nor removal of capitalization is always correct. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:34, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  •  Comment: In my opinion, this is not about linguistic correctness, whatever that is, but more concerned about consistency in a WS list. Therefore my vote goes for capitalisation, which just gives the list a professional appearance, as it just assumes that each member of the list is an independent entity. Andyboorman (talk) 18:34, 31 July 2019 (UTC)
  •  Comment: Why would such a proposal exist? All of them should be capitalized. This is not Wiktionary. --Znotch190711 (talk) 01:30, 14 August 2019 (UTC)


Symbol support vote.svg Yes, all of the vernacular names should start with a leading uppercase letter.

  1. Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 09:41, 30 July 2019 (UTC). I choose to refrain from voting. Signed, Tommy Kronkvist, 18:13, 31 July 2019 (UTC).
  2. Andyboorman (talk) 10:05, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  3. Thiotrix (talk) 10:44, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  4. RLJ (talk) 21:19, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  5. MPF (talk) 17:05, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
  6. This is not Wiktionary. --Znotch190711 (talk) 01:29, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
  7. MKOliver (talk) 22:52, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Symbol oppose vote.svg No, all of the vernacular names should start with a leading lowercase letter.

Cancelled process mini.svg Neither of the options above is correct.

  1. EncycloPetey (talk) 16:17, 30 July 2019 (UTC)
  2. Because all vernacular names should be grammatically correct. Avoiding grammatical acuracy is injuring. Neglecting the fact, that some editors does not matter it. Users/readers of the project has right to get true information, including gramar accuracy. Howgh. --Kusurija (talk) 19:09, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
    well here you ask the impossible. Different cultures have different grammar. Also does it really matter grammar is not that important in vernacular names. Seriously people make them up and they gain some local traction, this is all they are. I seriously do not see the importance of this. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 20:18, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
    Please, could you (You?) avoid propagation of Newspeak for nations, who "tasted" any form of pressure from dictatures? Let's be more friendly and more cooperating. I'm for love and TRUTH (V. Havel). I'm opposite of "alternative truths", which are weapons of hybrid wars. Thank you for understanding. --Kusurija (talk) 04:56, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
  3. Proposal is unclear. In the proposal Tommy Kronkvist suggests using "title case"; e.g. Bald Eagle. Support votes are under "all of the vernacular names should start with a leading uppercase letter", which applies to both "Bald Eagle" and "Bald eagle". Most of the omments in the Discussion section of this RFC seems to be assuming that "sentence case" is the standard being suggested (i.e. "Bald eagle"). In my opinion, sentence cases should be used; the first letter of vernacular name should be capitalized, but the first letters of subsequent words should be lowercase unless those words are proper nouns. On Wikispecies, vernacular names are presented as line-spaced lists rather than running text. In some languages, line-spaced lists may be presented in sentence case (with an initial capital, but subsequent words in lower case), and non-proper nouns in running text are lower case. In some languages (e.g. German), all nouns use title case (each word capitalized). Is this a proposal for using sentence case (with initial words upper case when in line-spaced lists, but lower case in running text) or title case (with all words capitalized)? Are there any languages where it would be inappropriate to use capitalized letters in a line-spaced list? Plantdrew (talk) 03:11, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
  4. I'm not familiar enough with names of organisms in other languages to make a full statement, but since there are many languages that have no capital letters at all, it is nonsense to require that all languages use forms beginning with a capital letter. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:33, 1 September 2019 (UTC)
    @EncycloPetey: What languages and/or alphabets are you referring to? For single-case writing systems one could argue either that those languages use no capital letters at all, or that they only use capital letters. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 10:31, 11 September 2019 (UTC).
    The only one I know about is Georgian. Regards --Franz Xaver (talk) 13:28, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
    There are many writing systems that are ideographic, or have no capital letters: the Chinese languages, Japanese, Hindi, Malayalam, Thai, Hebrew, Arabic, etc. So to require all vernacular names to start with a capital letter means that many languages must be excluded from Wikispecies because that requirement cannot be met in those languages. The "capital letter" is a very Euro-centric concept. --EncycloPetey (talk) 15:26, 11 September 2019 (UTC)
    Well, I sort of took for granted that people understood that the discussion regards writing systems using alphabets, such as for example the Cyrillic, Greek, or Latin scripts. As for the few alphabets using an abjad writing system (notably Arabic and Hebrew) they would of course be excluded since they generally doesn't have any distinct upper and lower case letter forms. Logographic writing systems and most of the languages using syllabic or logosyllabic scripts are of course also excluded, since the graphemes of those languages doesn't relate to phonemic letters. In other words, they don't use letters in the true sense at all. Is this difficult to understand, in any way? Languages that doesn't use different cases (because the are ideographic, logosyllabic, or whatever) are excluded simply because the issue doesn't relate to them. The same goes for digits, chemical formulæ, phonemic orthography, sign language, etc. In short, stuff that's not affected by the discussion shouldn't be part of it (and yes, I know that some typefaces include both upper and lower case digits, but you get my point, right?) Tommy Kronkvist (talk), 21:12, 12 September 2019 (UTC).


  • Pending.

Post vote addit

Sorry I did not vote on this. I have seen it discussed a multitude of times. I think no matter what rule you place on this there will always be exceptions and those who cannot agree. Then we are a nomenclatural taxonomy site in which case this is not that relevant to us. We have tried before, people will do what they want with vernacular names. Hence I abstain. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 18:01, 9 August 2019 (UTC)

Why did you "impose" unresolved (tongue in cheek)? A vote is a vote after all. Andyboorman (talk) 21:16, 9 August 2019 (UTC)
I did not that was there when I added the above comment. Cheers Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 02:52, 11 August 2019 (UTC)