When to capitalize species' names...? (ita-eng)
Thread poster: Marco V

Marco V
Local time: 15:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Feb 27, 2008

The book I'm translating travels through many regions of Africa and includes many names of species that can be found in these areas, from plants to animals.
When should I use capitalization on the names of species?

I find it useful if it its Latin taxonomy is listed immediately after...

i.e
"here we can find the Otter Shrew (Micropotamogale ruwenzorii)
vs
here we can find the otter shrew (Micropotamogale ruwenzorii)


but sometimes it seems banal to capitalize it
i.e.:

"many elephants, gazelles, lions and wild dogs were hunted down in those days"

"many Elephants, Gazelles, Lions and Wild Dogs were hunted down in those days"



The author is all over the place, sometimes he capitalizes, sometimes he doesn't.
What would you do?


m.


 

GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Capitalize only proper names Feb 27, 2008

If your translation into English is going to follow the rules, the English common names of animals should be lower case. The only exception is if part of the name is a proper name or proper adjective, which should always be capitalized. See #6 here. See also this reference.

Thus, otter shrew, elephants, gazelles, lions and wild dog should all be lower case, and it would be a mistake to capitalize them.

[Edited at 2008-02-27 18:32]


 

Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:03
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
One additional thing Feb 27, 2008

GoodWords is correct on capitalization: common names are not capitalized unless they fall under some other capitalization rule. (For example, if the author chooses to start a sentence with an animal name, the name is capitalized. E.g., "Otters are found in zoos.")

The Latin taxonomy capitalizes the genus and leaves the species uncapitalized.

This only applies to English. I can't comment on your source language.


 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Agree with Good Words and Paul Feb 28, 2008

That an Italian is all over the place with capitalisations doesn't surprise me in the leasticon_wink.gif However, it doesn't mean you have to follow suit. I'd follow the convention of your second example, "here we can find the otter shrew (Micropotamogale ruwenzorii)".

Italians generally capitalise much more than we do - in my field, for example, chemicals and the like are almost always capitalised. It's important not to fall into the habit of following the capitalisations in the original, as it just looks odd (or even downright wrong) in English. You need to be extra careful if you're bilingual, as you might not have that instinctive feeling for subtle differences of this kind.



[Edited at 2008-02-28 10:11]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:03
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree Mar 3, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

That an Italian is all over the place with capitalisations doesn't surprise me in the leasticon_wink.gif However, it doesn't mean you have to follow suit. I'd follow the convention of your second example, "here we can find the otter shrew (Micropotamogale ruwenzorii)".

Italians generally capitalise much more than we do - in my field, for example, chemicals and the like are almost always capitalised. It's important not to fall into the habit of following the capitalisations in the original, as it just looks odd (or even downright wrong) in English. You need to be extra careful if you're bilingual, as you might not have that instinctive feeling for subtle differences of this kind.



[Edited at 2008-02-28 10:11]


I agree. No need to capitalise unless the word begins a sentence - "Elephants are found in Africa ..." but "There are many elephants in Africa ..."
As to Latin names of species, it is usual in English texts to capitalise the first word but not the second - "Vitis vinifera" (the grape vine). (My late father was a much published botanist and entomologist - I trust he would agree).
Regards,
Jenny.


 


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When to capitalize species' names...? (ita-eng)

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