[Annelida] seta vs chaeta

Kristian Fauchald FauchaldK at si.edu
Mon Apr 24 08:21:06 EST 2006


Maybe I should put my few-cents-worth into this debate:  50-60 years ago, Hartman and many of the French scientists appeared to prefer seta and setiger (with appropriate diacritic marks, if needed).  The use of chaetae (and chaetiger) was mainly associated with UK, cfr. Ashworth and others.  I have switched from s to ch and am trying to stay consistent on this usage.  However, for me, the most important part is that the usage Sergio suggested, with a difference between the two, even if suppportable, phonetically or whatever, is going to lead to massive confusion since they two have been used as synonyms basically for the last 100+ years.  

I prefer to use chae over set these days, but will not disregard papers using the latter.  The important part here is the communication among us, and between us and the rest of the world.  Do I hear angels dancing on the head of a pin?  In case, how many?

Kristian  

  

Kristian Fauchald, Research Zoologist
Department of Zoology
NMNH, Smithsonian Institution
P.O.Box 37012, 
NHB MRC 0163
Washington, DC 20013-7012
phone: 202.633.1777
fax 202.357.3043
fax: 202.357.3043

>>> "H.A. ten Hove" <hove at science.uva.nl> 04/23 6:02 PM >>>
At 18:36 21-4-2006, you wrote:

Dear chaetologists,

Returning from a short vacation I noticed the 
discussion on above mentioned topic. I distinctly 
remember the first polychaete conference (I was 
at sea during the Copenhagen meeting, so cannot 
have picked up the idea there) where David George 
pointed out that we were discussing polychaetes 
and that from this viewpoint chaetae (and 
derivates) was more consistent than setae. Ever 
since I have been trying to consistently use 
chaetae instead of setae, which I used before 
that time (and I hope indeed only before that time).

Sergio's research in dictionaries explains the 
English view. Being forced to study 5 years of 
Greek and 6 of Latin during my grammar school 
(mal)formation, I have the distinct feeling (but 
my dictionnaries are not sophisticated enough to 
confirm this) that saeta (or alternative spelling 
seta) is just the Latin usage (transliteration) 
of the older Greek chaeta (chaitè). That the 
Romans gave a slightly different meaning to saeta 
(referring to the bristles of e.g. swine, but 
also in the combination with equina = horse's), 
while the Greek chaeta indeed has been used for 
(long) hair (human, but also for the horse's 
mane), which does not alter the fact that it 
essentially is the same word: hair. As such, in 
my opinion the discussion on the meaning (either 
"long and slender" or "stiff") is rather academic.

Having said this, Sergio's comment that 
Polychaeta (or its antonym, Oligo-) might be 
wrongly constructed is incorrect. The ICN 
Recommendation II,  11, quite clearly states: In 
forming a compound name, a zoologist should not 
choose components of which one is Greek and the 
other Latin. Poly is definitely Greek, in 
combinations meaning "rich in", as shown for 
instance in polyanthès, rich in flowers, and chaitè too is Greek.

If we would follow the intention of the 
recommendation, I disagree with Jim Blake 
(although he is right that  consensus was not 
reached), and would be of the opinion that chaet- 
would surely be more appropriate that set-.

chaetily (I see the association, but cannot resist the signature),

dr. Harry A. ten Hove
Zoological Museum
University of Amsterdam
Mauritskade 57
P.O.B. 94766, 1090 GT Amsterdam
the Netherlands
hove at science.uva.nl 
http://www.science.uva.nl/ZMA/invertebrates 


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