Proposal (719) to South American Classification Committee



Change the spelling of Poospiza hypochondria to Poospiza hypocondria



To clarify the earliest use of the specific name spellings of Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch, the following sources are placed below:


1837. Emberiza hypocondria d´Orbigny. & Lafresnaye. 1837. Mag. Zool. 7, p. 80

1844. Emberiza hypochondria d´Orbigny. Voy. Amér. Mérid., Ois., p. 361, pl. 45, fig. 1.

1850. Poospiza hypochondria Bonaparte. Consp. Gen. Av. 1 (2), p. 472.

1860. Zonotrichia hypochondria Burmeister. Journ. Orn, p. 256.

1879. Poospiza hypochondriaca Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., p. 605


The Code (I.C.Z.N 1999) establishes the following: The original spelling of a name is the "correct original spelling", unless it is demonstrably incorrect as provided in Article 32.5.


The article 32. 5 establishes the following only two cases in which the original spelling should be corrected:


32.5.1. If there is in the original publication itself, without recourse to any external source of information, clear evidence of an inadvertent error, such as a lapsus calami or a copyist's or printer's error, it must be corrected. Incorrect transliteration or latinization, or use of an inappropriate connecting vowel, are not to be considered inadvertent errors. The correction of a spelling of a name in a publisher's or author's corrigendum issued simultaneously with the original work or as a circulated slip to be inserted in the work (or if in a journal, or work issued in parts, in one of the parts of the same volume) is to be accepted as clear evidence of an inadvertent error.


From these Code´s articles it is possible to state that the subsequent correction on Emberiza hypocondria to Emberiza hypocHondria was not correct and therefore may not applicable.


Some additional information:


1) There is no disclaimer or corrigendum published originally in 1837.

2) There is no another spelling for same taxon used in the same article or published elsewhere in the same year. (Different spellings of the same taxon, in the same work or published in the same year could be decided by the First reviser. Art. 24.2.2).

3) The authors used the following phrase in the taxon description (p. 81, also in 1844): "hypocondris rufo-badiis". The accepted transliteration of the Greek word would be “hypokhóndria” or “hypochondria”.

The light of the current Code (I.C.Z. N. 1999) and against the opinion of Hellmayr (1938. Cat. Bds America, part XI, p. 619) - which considered “hypocondria” the typographical error - I recommend rectify to the original spelling of Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch which must be properly named Poospiza hypocondria.


José Fernando Pacheco, May 2016





Comments from Claramunt: “NO. The original spelling, hypocondria, is orthographically erroneous, as the name seems to be derived from the rufous seed-shaped marks (from the Greek chondros = seed) on the flanks of the original specimens (check: That is the reason all later authorities, including the same d´Orbigny in his book “Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale” used hypochondria instead of hypocondria. Although according to the modern Code of Nomenclature, correcting the original spelling on grounds of orthography alone could be deemed an "unjustified emendation", there is no reason to revert to the original spelling because hypochondria is in prevailing usage, and prevailing usage trumps priority in the case of subsequent spellings (Art. Therefore, I don’t see a reason to resurrect and immortalize an orthographical error such as hypocondria (d´Orbigny wouldn’t like that either). The use of hypochondria not only preserves stability but also adds consistency to our classifications by maintaining some logic to the spelling of names that helps the users of the classification in the sense that they can follow basic orthographical rules instead deal with arbitrary spellings.”


Comments from Areta: “NO. I agree with Santiago's comments. The Code even provides an example of a case in which prevailing usage trumps unjustified emendations: when an unjustified emendation is in prevailing usage and is attributed to the original author and date it is deemed to be a justified emendation.

Example. Because Helophorus, an unjustified emendation by Illiger (1801) of Elophorus Fabricius, 1775, is in prevailing use in the Coleoptera and attributed to Fabricius, it is deemed to be a justified emendation; the name Helophorus Fabricius, 1775 is to be maintained as the correct spelling.


“It might be argued that the Poospiza hypochondria case is not one of unjustified emendation (because the author of the emendation is not exactly the same as those of the taxon name), but one of an incorrect subsequent spelling. However, also in this latter case, prevailing usage overrules the incorrect subsequent spelling as stated in The Code:


33.3. Incorrect subsequent spellings. Any subsequent spelling of a name different from the correct original spelling, other than a mandatory change or an emendation, is an "incorrect subsequent spelling"; it is not an available name and, like an incorrect original spelling [Art. 32.4], it does not enter into homonymy and cannot be used as a substitute name, but

33.3.1. when an incorrect subsequent spelling is in prevailing usage and is attributed to the publication of the original spelling, the subsequent spelling and attribution are to be preserved and the spelling is deemed to be a correct original spelling.

Example. The specific name in Trypanosoma brucii Plummer & Bradford, 1899 is in prevailing usage but is spelled brucei; brucei is deemed to be correct and its use is to be maintained.


“A final reflection, which applies to the hypocondria vs. hypochondria and the cassini vs. cassinii cases among many more. Prevailing usage could change through time, even inadvertently, and so it seems like a potential source for instability when thinking in the long-term usage of names. So, I wonder whether the minor instabilities produced at present by returning to original spellings might not result in a more stable classification in the long run. Sometimes making use of the legally supported argument of prevailing usage seems short-sighted, and also note that most usages of names (which contribute to the widespread "usage" of a certain spelling) do not refer to the original source of publication (e.g., SACC names). I do not have a completely satisfactory answer to this, and go back and forth between keeping what we have and reverting to original spellings. In this case, however, since hypocondria has apparently never been used other than at the time of the original description and hypochondria appears to have been used ever since the first reference to the original description in the literature by one of the original describers, there are ample historical, grammatical and prevailing usage reasons not to revert to the original spelling.”


Comments from Stiles: “NO. Here again, stability should be preserved, especially as the first use of the name (by one of the original describers) corrected the spelling error, and this name has been in use ever since.”


Comments from Robbins: “NO. I agree with comments by both Santiago and Areta. Making such a change would simply add confusion.”


Comments from Zimmer: “NO in the interest of stability, as voiced by Santiago, Nacho, Gary and Mark.”


Comments solicited from Murray Bruce: “No. It stands to reason that in such cases where the original author of the name was able to make a later correction (a justified emendation, although in Code terms this means dating the emendation to the original work, following 19.2, but admittedly not a widely adopted practice in ornithology – compare the practice of indicating new combinations as comb. nov., also rarely done for birds), then this can be recognised, as done by d’Orbigny (and so followed ever since). I think it is unfortunate that 32.5.1 was added to with “incorrect transliteration or latinization, or use of an inappropriate connecting vowel, are not to be considered inadvertent errors”. This seems to imply that one cannot recognise and correct such an error because in more recent times users of the Code would not be expected to have an appropriate grounding in Classical Latin and therefore could not make an informed correction as this means going outside the publication itself, even if it is really just making an obvious grammatical correction, although bear in mind that there can be situations where the Latin correction/emendation could technically involve more than one solution to such a perceived error, e.g. an error in declension by misinterpreting the Latin case being applied to the name could be about a grammatical ‘adjustment’; but on the other hand, this is really disclaiming justified emendations!  In reality, what really undermines this implication is that this type of error was invariably picked up by later users [here I mean it was normally those in the 19th Century who established the name for later usage, as this example demonstrates] of the name (which doesn’t mean they saw the original), who merely apply their classical knowledge of Latin, but indicating such distinctions as to how the name was originally spelled vs. subsequent spelling, particularly by the same author, rarely applied until about Peters’s day (or also usually Ridgway and Hellmayr for New World birds). For example, in Cat. BM 12: 636 the spelling distinction is not made, although not unusual for this series, even amending it to hypochondriaca, in this case, after Bonaparte, and followed by Sclater, but such ‘corrections’ or ‘emendations’ also often date from the Cat. BM itself, i.e. usage (grammatically corrected, if applicable) vs. grammatical ‘adjustment’ issues, as we see here with hypochondria vs. hypochondriaca.  There can be a case here to say that this is really the same thing as the –ii vs. –i examples, because both could simply be about an author’s view of the name involved, but is adding or removing an extra ‘i’ the same thing as a spelling error of the hypocondria/hypochondria type?  It is obvious that the Code would prefer us to stick with the original spelling no matter what it is, but while the cases of –ii vs. –i should be about following the original source, the correction of such obvious spelling errors as we are discussing here, on the other hand, can mean recognising justified emendations, despite the Code’s apparently contradictory disclaimer, rather than mindlessly allowing an incorrect spelling to be used. In this case we know that hypochondria was really what d’Orbigny intended and thus the application of original author intent (as justified emendation, if the term could be applied here) fits with maintaining continued/’prevailing’ usage of hypochondria.  While ‘prevailing’ usage often can be invoked as a solution to a nomenclatural problem, it also can be an excuse to avoid some necessary changes, but in this case it would seem that usage wins out.  Moreover, if hypocondria is really so unused, we can apply the ‘1899’ rule ( as the simplest solution to settling this proposal.”


Comments from Piacentini (who has Cadena’s vote on proposals involving the Code and nomenclature): “NO. It's clear from the original publication that d'Orbigny/Lafresnaye did not know how to transliterate "hypochondr--", as he/they always spelled it without the H (many species in his Emberiza, especially when describing females). So, such error cannot be said to be a lapsus calami or a copyist/printer error, and should not be corrected according to present-day rules. However, by the time the species was described, such rules were not in force, and the name was indeed emended by d'Orbigny and used in its emended form since then. And the same Code that denies such a correction also states in its Art. that an unjustified emendation in prevailing usage, just like the one we are dealing here, is to be maintained and deemed to be justified.”


Comments from Remsen: “NO – relying totally on expert opinions above.”