Proposal (#225) to South American Classification Committee

Lower case "s" in English name "Painted-Snipe" (Nycticryphes)

[Carry-over text from Proposal 214 (and see that proposal for Parkes's rules): This name falls foul of Parkes' rule 1(D)(ii) and rule 2. Nycticryphes semicollaris ("South American Painted-Snipe") is not a true snipe (sensu Gallinago, Scolopacidae) but is in a separate family Rostratulidae. The compound word is a three syllable noun and causes no problems to pronunciation, thus does not fall in the exception to "Rule 1". The current name used is further wholly inconsistent with the name "Seedsnipe" (used essentially without exception for the Thinocoridae). The alternative name "Paintedsnipe" is used in some recent ornithological publications. However, hyphenated form is still by far the most widely used. A google search shows 239 hits for pages using the non-hyphenated (or nonhyphenated??) name versus almost 400,000 for the hyphenated name (mostly in Australia), thus its use has not caught on as much as "Bamboowren" in particular (see below). Given widespread usage by native English-speakers in another part of the world, I would be more inclined to recommend a "NO" vote on this proposal for the sake of stability, although it may be helpful to seek Antipodean views on the topic as I am not fully aware of the relevant and salient literature used in that part of the world. Although not four syllables long, it could be argued that "Paintedsnipe" is more unwieldy than "Seedsnipe". If a "NO" vote passes, the first letter of the word "snipe" should at least be made lower case ("Painted-snipe" not "Painted-Snipe": see e.g. BirdLife International 2004 treatment) and a proposal will automatically be raised for this if this proposal is rejected.


For the reasons, given above, "Painted-snipe" would better follow Parkes' (1978) rules on English bird names. Such a treatment would be consistent with "Chuck-will's-widow", "Foliage-gleaner", "Huet-huet", "Firewood-gatherer" and "Cock-of-the-rock". These birds are not defined by the last word in the hyphenated sequence but by the compound as a whole. They therefore take lower case first letters on the second, third and fourth words in the compound. Similarly, Nycticryphes are "Painted-[s]nipe", in a different family from true "Snipe" (sensu Gallinago). I understand that lower case "s" is often used for these birds in other parts of the world. Asians, Europeans and Australasians less frequently use an upper case second word in compound bird names generally. However, in this case, lower case "s" would be the more consistent usage whichever continent one is in. I would recommend a "YES" vote.

Thomas Donegan, August 2006


Addendum from Remsen: Gill and Wright (2006) use "Painted Snipe", without hyphen.


Comments from Stiles: "YES. No strong feelings, but "Painted-snipe" seems the best compromise."

Comments from Zimmer: "YES for reasons stated in the proposal."