OSHR 1821 - Biological Illiteracy: The Cause for Upgrading Our Language

  • Noncredit

This course is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Colorado State University. You must be a member of Osher to enroll in this course.

Turkey vultures and prairie dogs long ago became icons of biological illiteracy. The birds are neither turkeys nor vultures, and the small mammals are not dogs and do not live on the prairie. We suffer these errors because familiarity is a seductress and tradition is a tyrant.

This class proposes that "American" as a discrete polyglot language desperately needs an upgrade. In order to do this, we must first release Latin names to the past and then we must standardize American wildlife names according to a knowledge-based grammar, a protocol never before used. Accomplishments with wildlife nomenclature can then serve as a model for the rest of the American language.

Readings: Kaesuk Yoon, Carol. Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science, W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN-13: 978-0-393-06197-0.

Noncredit courses do not produce academic credit nor appear on a Colorado State University academic transcript.


Kevin J. Cook


Kevin J. Cook is a naturalist who has explored the expanse of Colorado and engaged the full diversity of its wildlife since 1974. Through writing, speaking, and teaching he shares his passion for life with other people, always emphasizing the themes of diversity, connectedness, and geography.