Proposal (270) to South American Classification Committee


Change spelling of "Lacrimose" to "Lachrymose" Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus lacrymosus)


This is a spelling error that has creeped into much of the ornithological literature dealing with the Neotropics. The word "Lacrimose" is generally regarded as not being a word at all in most U.K. and U.S. dictionaries. In some, it is listed as a secondary (incorrect) spelling. The correct or most frequently used English spelling of this word is "Lachrymose", with the "y" also reflecting this species' scientific name. I recommend a "Yes" vote.


Thomas Donegan, May 2007





Comments from Stiles: "YES.  My tried-and-true old Webster uses "lachrymose", so I´ll go along with this one too."


Comments from Remsen: "NO. Puzzled why the many erudite Americans have not previously corrected "lacrimose" if it were a horrendous spelling error, much less produced such an error when the English name first used, I find, sure enough, that Webster's Unabridged, usually regarded as the premier authority for American English, states: 'also spelled lacrimose.' Ditto for all other words formed from the same Latin word lacrima (tear), e.g., lacrimal. Given that every change has its cost in terms of loss of stability and increase in confusion, I do not think it is worth it to switch from secondary to primary form."


Additional comments from Thomas Donegan: "English is a living language and thankfully, unlike the French, we do not have any language police enforcing one spelling or other. However, I would have thought that a formal committee such as SACC ought to be following and propogating established spellings (especially when the same in different versions of modern English) rather than seeking to innovate in this sphere or adopt little-used secondary spellings or spelling mistakes."


Additional comments from Remsen: "With respect to Thomas's comments above, "lacrimose" is not a spelling error but a secondary form accepted by the premier authority on American English and has persisted without challenge for 60+ years. Thomas evidently is unable to grasp that secondary spellings are not incorrect spellings --- such as his persistent use of “propogating” – and that secondary spellings, such as his use of “creeped” in his first sentence instead of the traditional “crept”, are not incorrect.  Further, SACC is only following previous standardized lists. If SACC were in charge of coming up with a standardized list of English names from scratch, then I would go with the primary usage, namely lachrymose, but part of our obligation, in my view, is not to make changes unless necessary. Each change bears a cost in terms of making obsolete the many publications that used the previous name."


Comments from Robbins: "For the same rationale that I used in proposal #268, I vote for keeping the name Lacrimose. Hence, a "NO" vote."


Comments from Zimmer: "NO, as per arguments of Van and Mark."


Comments from Nores: "NO. Otra vez, aunque yo no puedo opinar sobre el inglés, yo coincido con Remsen que si "lacrimose" no es erróneo, no es conveniente hacer cambios que no sean totalmente necesarios. Una búsqueda en Google mostró 14500 lacrimose vs. 148000 lachrymose."


Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - similar to my thoughts on 268, Neotropic Cormorant."