Proposal (269) to South American Classification Committee


Change spelling of "Cloudforest" to "Cloud-forest" (Megascops marshalli)


In the description of M. marshalli, the name "Cloud-forest Screech-Owl" was suggested (Weske & Terborgh 1981). The compound name seems to have arisen later and is used in some other publications (e.g. Marks et al. 1999). Although "Rainforest" is a frequently used compound word, "Cloudforest" is not so commonly seen. The hyphenated form "Cloud-forest" is used for one other species on SACC (Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium nubicola), which coincidentally is in the same family. The hyphenated version was also suggested in the description G. nubicola (Robbins & Stiles 1999). "Cloud-forest Brush-Finch" was proposed for Atlapetes latinuchus (Clements & Shany 2001), but this was not accepted by SACC (see SACC proposal 84). Changing this spelling would promote internal consistency of the SACC list, would (in my view) be a more accurate spelling and would reflect the suggestion of the authors of the species. I would suggest a "Yes" vote.


Thomas Donegan, May 2007





Comments from Stiles: "YES.  (If such world-renowned linguistic authorities as Robbins & Stiles used a hyphen, it MUST be right ...) Seriously, it does seem to be the most appropriate spelling."


Comments from Remsen: "NO. The way English words evolve is that when newly associated words become more frequently used, the progression starts with two words (e.g., "rain forest"), progresses to a hyphenated form ("rain-forest"), and then they melt together to produce a new word ("rainforest"). By the way, my 1983 Webster's Unabridged does not list "rainforest" as a word, yet this is now widely used in technical literature. Another pertinent example is “wild life”, which soon became “wild-life”, and is now “wildlife”, codified for example in J. Wildlife Management.  Thus, those preeminent linguistic authorities Robbins and Stiles were predictably at the cutting edge way back in '95 with the hyphenated "Cloud-forest" and now have the special opportunity to catapult forward into the future with "Cloudforest." [By the way, whichever way the vote goes, we need to make this consistent with Otus marshalli, so consider this a vote on both names.]"


Additional comments from Thomas Donegan: "The main point of this proposal is for internal consistency - ensuring that Glaucidium nubicola and Megascops marshalli use the same spelling on their vernacular names. However, with reference to Van Remsen's comments on the other two spelling proposals, if every small change bears a cost, then it is worth noting that hyphenated "Cloud-forest" is the established usage for each of these recently-described owls."


Additional comments from Stiles: "As for the cloudy "Cloud-forest" vs. "Cloudforest" thread, I am not convinced that "rainforest" is all that frequent or that the "cutting edge" is to cut out the hyphen - or space - between the words ... my distinct impression is that the hyphenated form is the more frequent, certainly for cloud-forest.  I agree with Thomas that the main point is internal consistency, hence I feel that we should leave the linguistic cutting edge to the linguists and lexicographers and go with the more widely used form (hopefully there are no birds in our area with vernacular names including "rain-forest" or "rainforest" to complicate things further!)."


Comments from Robbins: "YES. Gary was correct in referring to us as authorities, but he inadvertently used the wrong category, the correct one is: "I know nothing and I can prove it". I agree with fellow linguist Stiles, and vote to change M. marshalli to Cloud-forest Screech-Owl, solely on the grounds of consistency in our list."


Comments from Nores: "YES. Aunque yo no puedo opinar en relación al idioma, si considero que hay que ser consistente con la lista de base. Si ya existe Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, también tiene que ser Cloud-forest Screech-Owl."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES - The history of this name has not been all that long, and Cloudforest nearly looks German, so I lean to the addition of the hyphen. It is in these conversations of hyphenation and word amalgamations that the Spanish speakers shake their heads, maybe even let out an Ay-Caramba!"