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I raise a breed of rabbit call Mini Rex. There is debate in the rabbit world whether they should be referred to as Mini Rex or Mini Rexes in the plural form. Can you help me determine the correct way to pluralize this breed name? I know that when people are referring the Tyrannosaurus Rex is seems to stay the same whether singular or plural. However, I’m not sure the “rex” part of the names comes from the same etymology.
Since most words ending in x require an -es, why would Mini Rexes not be correct? Or, on the other hand why would the plural of Tyrannosaurus in plural be Tyrannosaurus Rexes?
Does this have to do with the difference between a species name and a breed name?
Help would be greatly appreciated!
Wow … that’s a great question achildress. Welcome to the forum.
After some online research at my favorite etymology sites, it appears there’s some disagreement about pluralizing words that are originally Latin or Greek (as with taxonomies). Here’s a summary of what I found, mainly regarding T. rex, but I assume the same would apply to M. rex. Disclaimer: I am not a Latin or Greek scholar, but I do have a science background so I’ve often had to deal with this type of question.
1. If you go with strict Latin, the plural of Tyrannosaurus rex would be “Tyrannosauri reges” and thus for your breed “Mini reges” or “M. reges.” But that just sounds a bit stilted to me.
2. Other sources say Tyrannosaurus rex is its own plural (sorta like the English word “fish”). If you buy that rule, then just use “Mini rex” for both singular and plural. Or more simply, “M. rex” as is done with the standard binomial taxonomy established by Carolus Linnaeus in the 18th century. Note that the species name is capitalized, but the genus is not.
3. And still other sources say that when you adopt a foreign word into English, you pretty much have carte blanche when it comes to format. Especially if you’re naming a new species. But since it sounds like this is an existing breed of rabbit, maybe the original breeder has already made that choice. Is he/she still around, and could you consult the breeder about that?
For an interesting read on the subject of species/genus pluralization, see this link.
I know there are some real Latin and Greek scholars on this forum. So I’m hoping one of them will jump into this thread.
My knowing nothing about this does not prevent me from having an opinion. First, Heimhenge’s analysis is spot on.
1). The Latin plural of Rex is Reges. But I see no reason to use the Latin plural. The conjunction with Mini makes it impossible to treat as Latin.
2) Latin taxonomy terms don’t vary in the plural (usually anymore) — they are homo sapiens (and not homines sapientes). But Mini Rex is a breed name and not part of the taxonomy, so I see no reason for this to apply.
3). The man’s name Rex comes from the same Latin word for king. If I know three men with that name, the are three Rexes. I see the breed name as analogous to a person’s name. I’d go with Mini Rexes.
achildress said: Monsieur Gillet was the first to name this breed of rabbit. They were actually called Castorrex- castor for beaver in French and rex as the Latin word for king in English.
So are you saying the original breeder’s taxonomy choice was Castorrex castor? That would change much of my previous response.
Glenn’s distinction between breed names and binomial taxonomy names is also a good point. I mean, if you want to call this new breed “Cute Small Short-haired Bunnies” … more power to you. But if you want a formal scientific name, go with my original advice.
I read four different websites about castor rex and mini rex rabbits (there are dozens) and they all referred to the plural as “Castor rex rabbits” or “Mini rex rabbits” adding and pluralizing “rabbits.” This is what I would do and avoid the controversy. Of course this does not answer the question. I don’t even have an opinion about that answer.
Glenn said: Latin taxonomy terms don’t vary in the plural (usually anymore) — they are homo sapiens (and not homines sapientes). But Mini Rex is a breed name and not part of the taxonomy, so I see no reason for this to apply.
Absolutely correct, since Mini rex is not really a formal taxonomic designation … it’s a mix of English and Latin, and simply a name for a breed, e.g., “black orchid.” So the usual nomenclature rules don’t really apply.
I also like Dick’s suggestion that the whole issue be avoided by simply appending the plural “rabbits,” and that also works fine, but it isn’t really the answer to the original question starting this thread.
But I’m still confused by achildress’s last response. You seem to be saying the official species name chosen by the original breeder (Gillet) was Castorrex? What genus name did he append to that. According to Wiki, there are 8 genera to choose from, all in the family Leporidae.