Proposal (258) to South American Classification Committee

 

Add hyphen to English name "Flowerpiercer" (Diglossa)

 

Proposal: This proposal was overlooked from the recent raft of hyphenation proposals and is raised for completeness. The hyphenated name "Flower-piercer" has been used in many publications, whilst SACC uses "Flowerpiercer". Parkes (1978)'s rules on hyphenation are not definitive in their application here.

 

Discussion:

To recap, Parkes (1978) established the following rules that are relevant here:

 

RULE 1: Compound bird names should be spelled as a single word, unhyphenated, if:

 

C. The name describes an activity of the bird (whether or not accurately!).

 

Examples on SACC list: Shearwater, Sandpiper, Turnstone, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Earthcreeper, Reedhaunter, Canebrake, Brushrunner, Treerunner, Woodhaunter, Treehunter, Leaftosser, Woodcreeper, Gnateater, Flycatcher, Plantcutter, Berryeater, Fruiteater, Gnatcatcher, Mockingbird, Seedeater. 

 

EXCEPTIONS TO RULE 1:

 

II. An unhyphenated word would be excessively long (usually four syllables or more), or clumsy or imply an incorrect pronunciation.

 

Examples on SACC list: Chuck-will's-widow, Foliage-gleaner, Huet-huet, Firewood-gatherer, Cock-of-the-rock.

 

"Flowerpiercer" is a rather long word (13 letters). However, it causes no problems to pronunciation, like some of the examples in II would do when not hyphenated.

 

Among non-hyphenated SACC bird names, "Flowerpiercer" is equaled only by "Crescentchest" (also 13 letters). None that I spotted have 14 letters or more. "Flowerpiercer", however, has 4 or 5 syllables/diphthongs ("ier"?), cf. 3 in "Crescentchest". "Berryeater" has four syllables but is much shorter. "Violetear" has something between 3 and 5 syllables/diphthongs but is also shorter. "Flowerpiercer" could possibly be regarded as different from the others in its combination of length and number of syllables, but it is a weak argument.

 

USAGE:

 

Various recent leading texts use "Flower-piercer": Hilty & Brown (1986) Birds of Colombia; Rodner et al. (2000) Checklist of Birds of Northern South America. Salaman et al. (2001) Checklist of Birds of Colombia and FjeldsŒ & Krabbe (1990) Birds of the High Andes.

 

Others use "Flowerpiercer": AOU checklists, Dickinson (2003) Howard & Moore Checklist, Hilty (2003) Birds of Venezuela (Note: a change from Birds of Colombia), Ridgley & Greenfield (2001) Birds of Ecuador.

 

Recommendation: This usage is a matter of taste, rather like "Crescentchest". Many of the field guides and textbooks that I most frequently use hyphenate this bird name. However, there is nothing wrong or unpronounceable with the non-hyphenated version "Flowerpiercer" and nothing strongly to distinguish this from "Crescentchest", so a tentative "NO".

 

Reference:

Parkes K.C. 1978. A guide to forming and capitalizing compound names of birds in English. Auk 95: 324-326. Available at: http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v095n02/p0324-p0326.pdf

 

Thomas Donegan, January 2007

 

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Comments from Remsen: NO. One less hyphen to clog up lists.

 

Comments from Stiles: "NO. "Flowerpiercer" is certainly no jawbreaker, as at least "Firewood-gatherer" could be accused of being, it is a syllable shorter than "Foliage-gleaner", and it is totally appropriate so I see no reason to make it an exception to Rule 1! Huet-huet and Chuck-wills-widow are both onomatopoeic, so don«t seem to be especially suited to this rule, and Cock-of-the-rock is both firmly entrenched and cute."

 

Comments from Zimmer: "NO. I don't think the hyphen adds anything but clutter in this case."

 

Comments from Nores [not an official vote on English names]: "NO. Pienso que este cambio no implica mejora ni para la pronunciaci—n ni para uniformar criterios."

 

Comments from Robbins: "NO, I see no compelling reason to add a hyphen to flowerpiercer."

 

Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - Hyphens just confuse me, they likely do so for others. Retaining as it is seems simpler."