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Re: Re: phonetic pronunciation

Fun subject.  Some of you might be amazed at how often pronunciation is
discussed, and how little it matters to almost everyone discussing it.
Generally it is a good source for amusement when people from different
regions get together.  I don't think most people care how to pronounce a
name as long as everyone knows what the other is saying.  A few do take it
very seriously though.

What I've noticed is that botanical (and zoological) Latinized names are
pronounce somewhat regionally.  Even within the US, or any other country
for that matter, one group of people will say the names differently than
another group.  Often you will find a group of faculty and students at one
college saying names differently than at another.  It is very similar to
regional dialects; one group can sometimes go years without comparing
pronunciations with another.  It is always a common topic at conventions,
where people are trying to communicate using these names.  If the
conventions are long enough and the people talk enough about a given name,
they tend to gravitate toward one pronunciation and share it, at least for
a few days till they go home to their piers.

Nobody can go back and listen to someone speak classical Latin the way it
should be spoken as if by the original users of the language, and surely
there has indeed been drift in pronunciation.  However, if I was to pick a
"most correct" pronunciation, I would tend to gravitate toward the way most
Europeans (almost regardless of language) would pronounce them.  This does
not include English (and perhaps? some others too).  Most of the European
languages (at least when they use the same alphabet we English speakers
use) spell their consonants very similarly with only minor variation.  The
English language is I believe the worst offender at having things
different.  In English we use different letters for the vowels in
particular, so when we see a Latinized name and try to pronounce, we get it
all different.  I was told by a Spanish teacher (and native Spanish
speaker) once that this was the most difficult thing about teaching people
who grew up speaking English to speak other European languages.  They see a
written vowel, invariably want to say it incorrectly, and old habits are
hard to break.

As I said, I don't think it really matters, but when you get used to at
least something approaching the "Romance" pronunciations of these names, I
think they are actually easier to say (you don't have to learn to roll the
"r"s, but it adds a bit of flair).  I think they sound better that way too.
English pronunciations often tend to make them sound harsh.  Having said
that, I'm not very good at it (need more practice).

As for the word "amoena", I haven't been around many flower breeders face
to face who use the term, and I can't remember if I've hear it used in
conversation. So I had no bias when I learned the word.  The way I would
say it without thinking about it would be something like (using English
phonetics) <ah-mo-EE-nah>.  In English it might be better spelled "amoina"

The word Iris comes to mind too.  I say it as a true English speaker as
<EYE-rus> (again using English phonetics); can't help it, my grandparents
said it that way too.  However, if you think about it (and listen to people
from other continents), you might here <EE-roos>.

I am guilty of saying <PAL-i-du> (with a soft "i") too, but I think the
pronunciation Neil mentioned as <pahl-LEE-dah> is what I would be saying if
I thought more about it.  The name "pallida" is too close to a related
common English word, so I fall into the trap of saying it like the English

I would say that Spanish is close to really good in pronunciation, but
singling out any language would lead to certain odd pronunciations.  In the
case of Spanish it would become <pah-YEE-dah>, because of the double "l".
Or, in some dialects it would be <pah-JEE-dah>.

This may sound silly, and I haven't heard people locally saying
"pahyeedah", but there is a strong tendency toward Spanish pronunciations
here in New Mexico, and one example I can give for plants is Potentilla.
The Shrubby Cinquefoil (not really a true Potentilla at all, but the old
assignment to that genus dies hard, especially in horticulture), is sold as
Potentilla fruticosa, and a lot of the nursery workers, and thus the public
they sell to, say <poe-tain-TEE-ya>.  The English speakers make it
<poe-ten-TEE-yuh>, which is similar.  It is actually kind of nice sounding
this way, but it is Spanish, not Latin.  I even catch myself doing it
sometimes, it sort of flows off the tongue.

Bottom line though for me is - and the general consensus seems to agree -
is it doesn't matter;
"when in Rome......".


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