Sunday, August 05, 2012

sweet nomenclature ardour

Despite the lack of sun, our  few sweet peas thanks to abundant rain, have flourished this year.

It could be a form snobbery to refer to plants by their Latin names, suggested Lorenzo da Ponte here a few days ago.  Possibly, but the numerous different names given to flowers and herbs in different parts of the country justify a single, precise nomenclature to avoid confusion.  Take Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) for example. Geoffrey Grigson's The Englishman's Flora lists more than 50 local English names.  Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) has nearly 30.

"The ardour which we do not share, chills us," said the Victorian poet Coventry Patmore. I think of this and wilt a little at the ecstatic reaction to a few gold medals, well earned though they may be. Well done,  I  say, but that's enough. "Patriotism," said Dr Johnson, "is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I sometimes agree with him. 


Roderick Robinson said...

Not quite. Latin names obviously have their uses, especially when there is a need to be precise. What I meant to say is Latin names seem to be a heaven-sent opportunity for showing off and was Plutarch aware of occasions when they were used unnecessarily (eg, occasions when, say, dandelion was replaced by XXXX in over-the-back-fence chat).

Unknown said...

Sorry, you did make that clear. I'm afraid I distorted what you said for dramatic effect. It would be a strange form of snobbery though to discuss Taraxacum officinale over the garden fence instead of dandelions on the lawn, don't you think.