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I seem to have determined that there are 287,614 unique Latin taxonomic names used in the biological taxonomy according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) taxonomy taxon.txt file. First of all, that is an enormous number of unique names, I would have hoped they could be reused to a greater degree but I guess not. There are 90k some odd genera names, the rest are species names, or certain names might be duplicated throughout the complete taxonomy.

What I would like to do is take the taxonomy Latin names and convert them into their English equivalents. Not their "common names", as that can't be done by looking at the Latin name alone. But by taking their Latin name and making it into the equivalent English literal meaning. Wikipedia has a nice list on commonly used taxonomic affixes, and another on Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names, however a quick glance at the list and they both are missing -bacter- as one infix, for a single example, or vorans, or many many others. The Wikipedia list seems to only contain a small fraction of the names used in the actual complete taxonomy.

What I'm wondering is if there exist anywhere online in text format (so it can be copy-pasted) a complete list of all the Latin affixes (prefixes, infixes, suffixes, etc.) so I can accomplish my goal. The goal being, programmatically convert the Latin names to their literal English equivalent. I would split apart the Latin name based on some database of Latin affixes, and then plop out the English word matching the affix. It should take only a few seconds for a computer to do this transformation, assuming the list mapping Latin names to English names exists already.

Does anything like this exist anywhere on the web?

This calls itself the "worlds largest affix directory", yet it still doesn't have these common ones... Here's another Wikipedia page, perhaps this is as good as it is going to get?

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  • $\begingroup$ The keyword is calque: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calque This question is very much a question of automated calque translation and may be more suited for a linguistics or vanilla Stack Overflow (as the bio part isn't relevant). A resource that may be doing what you are after already is LPSN at bacterio.net: This has the etymology of properly described bacteria taxa, including humorous notes about bad grammar... Hello Pelagibacter ubique. $\endgroup$ Dec 21, 2021 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ I anticipate two problems with this project - many of the latin names are just names of biologists, therefore non-meaningful words in latin. Second, latin names are usually give by people that don't really know latin, therefore there are quite often grammatical errors (e.g. Timema monikensis/ense) $\endgroup$ Dec 21, 2021 at 18:11

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Maybe you can use NCBI Taxonomy instead, which is a full hierarchical taxonomy with >700K taxa. You can use Entrez utilities to programmatically query NCBI taxonomy to retrieve Latin or common names as well as other metadata.

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't answer the question :/ How specifically do I get the latin name literal English meaning from it though? $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    Dec 18, 2021 at 0:24

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