Buffalo or Bison nickel?Prelude:
We the enlightened of the 21st century have a new type trend. We look for ways to correct the ignorance of those who came before us who were so limited in intelligence they were stuck using a horse and buggy technology, never invented an iPhone, and never once played a video game! So is our duty. Those of us having an iPhone in our pocket with which we literally have the world of knowledge at our fingertips, surely need to make corrections reflecting our level of intelligence.History:
In 1616, the French explorer Samuel De Champlain was shown a drawing and some animal skins by Indians of the Nipissin First Nation. Since Champlain was French, he, for some reason, decided it would not
be best to use, let's say, Egyptian or Sinhalese, to describe the animal since his writings were to be published in France. Champlain using his French native tongue (correctly) described/named the animal as a "buffalo" from the (correct) French word beouf meaning ox(like) or beef animal (beouf/beef animal.get it
However, Mr Champlain for some reason, was very unaware of what would happen more than 100 years after this event.
In 1735, another Frenchman named Carolus Linnaeus did something boring to most of us 21st century-enlightened people.
Instead of playing online games, Linnaeus, being an educated man, wasted his time in school not learning how to make an iPhone, but instead, as normally was required
in those times, took Latin and Greek...which we of the 21st don't waste time on learning b/c we know we don't need the amazing insight these languages provide into the actual words coming out of our mouths. With his wasted time and energy on Latin and Greek, Linnaeus invented binary taxonomy (what's that? It's one of those Equus caballus
and buggy technology era terms
), which is the universal system whereby all scientists
, regardless of their native languages, can identify the exact same organism using scientific
accuracy using only two terms called the genus and the species.
So the "common name" of, "buffalo," was first used to name/describe an animal found in the New World. The name/description was from a (correct) French term used by a learned French man: Beouf. There was no mistake made in the process. There was no current English term in North America at that time.
The only other existing type of buffalo, the European buffalo, also had not yet
had the term "bison" applied to it either (more on this later).
The term bison comes from the Greek (one of those ancient languages not worth learning today so we don't make terminology mistakes) Βοσι (Bosi), which strangely (or not
) means the same thing as the French word beouf. "Bison" was first associated universally with the American buffalo (and European buffalo) when Linneaus made up his universal and scientifically needed species identification system
in 1735. The format was to list the genus and then the species in the following format (Genus species
ie. Twern't 'til 119 years after buffalo beasties were foun' in America that a sciency-type felluh' helped his friends out in their book larnin' 'n used the word bison thuh 'nitial time tuh describe (in Greek) the exactin' type
o' buffalo critter foun' in thuh New World was.
In other words, "American buffalos" were around over 119 years before anyone applied the word bison to them...and then the term was used as "(Bison bison
)" (genus Bison
) by those concerned with scientific classification/study/identification/literature. BTW, some sources will tell you it was 1750 and not 1735 the system was made b/c the system was not used consistently until the 1750s
As was said, Linnaeus made a technical name for everything as a universal way of indexing living organisms. So here
is yet another case of where maybe we, the enlightened of the 21st, should all learn to use that iPhone for something other than texting to find out if things like the "bison only" trend is based on fact (now where IS my Equus and buggy?
It is technically correct to call a Buffalo nickel
a "Bison-type nickel" b/c there are two types of extant critters having such binary taxonomy: The Bison bison
(American buffalo) and the Bison bonasus
(the European wisent, European zubr, or European buffalo). Using "Bison-type Nickel" is correct when there needs to be a reference only to the genus (bison) of the animal shown.Enough already, I don't need to know all of this junk! My iPhone is ringing!So is it Buffalo or Bison nickel?
It is technically correct to call a Buffalo nickel
a Buffalo nickel
1. Yes, if you are not
specifically interested in the scientific classification of the animal.
Or do you call your pet a "felinus" instead of a "cat" (Felinus catus
(...The felinus came back, the very same day...")
and your other pet a "canis" instead of a "dog" Canis familiarus
("....How much is that canis in the window?...")
2. Yes, the first term used in the American English language was adopted from the first White man to see the American Buffalo, and that man named the animal based upon the base/descriptive term in French (like the other ~7,000 French words we use in English)a "Buffalo."
So the term "buffalo" is not a cliche', a connoisseur of the English language understands this and thus likely would not sabotage others' use of the term.
Can you find the 4 French words in the previous sentence?
Is it correct to call the coin a "Bison nickel?"
1. Sure, if your context is talking about species identification using scientific accuracy.
2. But...technically (and this is what we are after - correcting technical error...no?), if the term "Bison nickel" is used, then due to the derivation of the use of the term Bison being taxonomic, we need to be totally correct
and call the coin a Bison bison
Nickel or a Bison-type Nickel" b/c the REV of the US coin is not showing a Bison bonasus
, but specifically
the Bison bison
: A buffalo (or "American type of genus Bison
So if you are not in a conversation where it is necessary to specify the exact genus and species of the animal, then the term "buffalo" was the first term used in the English language and is the common, correct term.
Being technically wrong and using the term "Bison Nickel" (not "Bison-type
Nickel") is one of those, "yeah, we speak English so we don't worry about our language's rules," type of things.
Which, BTW, I personally think is great or we couldn't say things like, "Cool man.Y' dig!?")
BTW - notice all the italicized taxonomy above? This is being technically correct.
Whenever the binary taxonomic classification is used in print, both genus and species are italicized such as Bison bison
. If handwritten then both are underlined such as Bison bison
And so we, the enlightened iPhone carrying (but not using for enlightenment) of the 21st find ourselves de-lighted (y'know - light bulb turned off?) in the area of how our terminology was handed down from the foolishness of the Equus and buggy technology era people who, had they been smart, would have been texting everyone on iPhones rather than laying the foundations upon which our modern enlightened society is based (yet forgetting how much intelligence it took to lay that foundation).