Why did linnaeus choose latin?

1 Answer
Jul 24, 2014

Linnaeus and other scientists used Latin because it was a dead language. No people or nation uses it as an official language.

Many other languages may have Latin bases but don't use all of it. So he would not insult any country when he began to name organisms although you will see that he did one time to a person he did not like.

Before Linnaeus, species naming practices varied. He did study to be a doctor of medicine but was attracted to botany as many medicines at the time were from plants.

Many biologists gave the species they described long, unwieldy Latin names, which could be altered at will; a scientist comparing two descriptions of species might not be able to tell which organisms were being referred to.

For instance, the common wild briar rose was referred to by different botanists as Rosa sylvestris inodora seu canina and as Rosa sylvestris alba cum rubore, folio glabro.

The need for a workable naming system was made even greater by the huge number of plants and animals that were being brought back to Europe from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

After experimenting with various alternatives, Linnaeus simplified naming immensely by designating one Latin name to indicate the genus, and one as a "shorthand" name for the species. The two names make up the binomial ("two names") species name.

The sexual basis of Linnaeus's plant classification was controversial in its day; although easy to learn and use, it clearly did not give good results in many cases.

Some critics also attacked it for its sexually explicit nature: one opponent, botanist Johann Siegesbeck, called it "loathsome harlotry". (Linnaeus had his revenge, however; he named a small, useless European weed Siegesbeckia .)

Reference: Berkley.edu