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Introduction - Name Properties and Concepts - Vernacular Concepts

Vernacular (or common or colloquial) names are those name forms which are not governed by formal rules of nomenclature. Vernacular names are commonly used by non-scientists (and some scientists too) and may form the basis of a keyword search for information. They are known in all languages and are represented in many character sets.


uBio represents vernacular concepts in two ways. NameBank stores vernacular concepts based on co-occurrence. ClassificationBank stores vernacular concepts based on a specific assertion that the use of a vernacular name fits a particular taxon concept.

NameBank vernacular concepts are based on the co-occurence between a vernacular name string and another name string, recorded with a NameBank ID. This second, co-occurring, name, can be a scientific name or another vernacular name. Identifying these unique co-occurrences provides a mechanism for refining and expanding searches based on ambiguous vernacular names through substitution of a co-occurring scientific name, it's lexical variants, and it's homotypic forms.

The name "bluefish" co-occurring with "Pomatomus saltatrix" for example, has an additional implied synonymous relationship with its lexical variant, "Pomatomus saltator." This implied synonymy can be extended to include the homotypic forms "Temnodon saltator" and "Gasterosteus saltatrix." Mapping these associations provides a mechanism for instantiating a search with a vernacular name but performing a query using a scientific name.

[Example 1] [Example 2].

Duplicate vernacular names may be represented by distinct vernacular concept identifiers.

ID name ID name
832234 bluefish 129973 Kyphosus cinerascens
831755 bluefish 167265 Pomatomus salatrix
968426 bluefish 127524 Girella syanea
946361 Amsel (ger) 4635 Turdus merula

On the other hand "merle noir" is only represented by a single vernacular concept.

Each unique association between a unique vernacular term and a unique scientific name string qualifies for a unique row within NameBank.

ID name ID name
750750 Eurasian Blackbird (eng) 4635 Turdus merula
963242 Eurasian Blackbird (eng) 24716 Turdus merula merula
964419 merle noir (fre) 4635 Turdus merula
946361 Amsel (ger) 4635 Turdus merula

The result of mapping according to these rules is that a unique value represents a unique use of an otherwise potentially ambiguous form. Distinct uses of the same vernacular name string can therefore be mapped using these identifiers as foreign keys.

Lastly, a vernacular concept that links a vernacular name to a scientific name can be extended to include related lexical and homotypic forms of the associated name.


NameBank indexes any vernacular names in their original encoding as Unicode (UTF-8). Encoding errors are still encountered within TNS due to the variety of formats of the original source information. These errors will result in occasional odd strings (ex. "arisËme dragon" = arisème dragon).

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