Types of non-scientific name
There is wide overlap between the following, but it is useful to be as precise as possible when you are defining what non-scientific names you will include in your field guide. It is a good idea to choose a particular non-italic font for these, to contrast with the italic convention of scientific names.
- Common name: Any non-scientific, commonly used name, without regard to linguistics, and not necessarily ‘local’, e.g., ‘coconut’, ‘Gum Arabic tree’. All of the following names are types of common name, but it is better to use a more particular term from the list below, if you can.
- Vernacular name: Name explicitly in a particular (generally non-global) language or dialect. Usually with language specified, e.g. Acacia nilotica = Ol-Erbat (Masai), Chigundigundi (Digo).
- Folk name: Like vernacular name, but resonating with ‘folk-lore’, i.e. hint of being a name with a long tradition of use, and not necessarily a particular language. E.g., Senecio vulgaris = Groundsel in U.K., from Anglo-Saxon ‘grundswelge’ (‘swelgan’, to swallow; ‘grund’, ground), because it grows very quickly.
- Local name: Any of the above, but emphasising what people in a limited region commonly use.
- Trade name: Trans-cultural names used in markets, especially international ones, e.g., ‘African Mahogany’, Kola, ‘Iroko’ and often applying more to a product than the tree, e.g. gum of Acacia nilotica = Gum Arabic.