The Naming of the Shrew


The Naming of the Shrew

Book Event

18:00 Tuesday 29th September 2015

recent book, The Naming of the Shrew

Latin names - frequently unpronounceable and always a tiny puzzle to unravel - have been perplexing the layman since they first became formalised as scientific terms in the 18th century. Why, you might ask, did anyone go to the trouble of inventing them?

In his recent book, The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names, John Wright FLS reveals the answer, tracing the ancient quest to organise the living things that share the planet. He reveals the beauty, meanings, frequent absurdity and essential utility of Latin names, explaining the arcane rules that govern their usage. He shines a light on such pressing questions as

John Wright
  • Why do we call a gorilla Gorilla gorillia gorilla
  • When is a species not a species?
  • What was the entomologist Cartwright thinking when he named a scarab beetle Cartwrightia cartwrightii Cartwright?
  • How do you pronounce Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaicalensis?
  • Why, if Latin names are meant to be stable, do the damn things change all the time?
  • Why do taxonomist invent names such as Erica canaliculata, Pison eu, Crepidula fornicata and Amanita vaginata?

Most of all, he tells their stories of the triumphs and delightful misunderstandings of the men and women who devise them.

Join us tonight as John delves into The Naming of the Shrew and shines a light on the curious history of Latin names.

This event is free and open to all; registration is not necessary.

Tea and coffee will be served in the Library from 17:30 and a wine reception will follow.

Image (c) Steve Goodwin

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