Re: REF: Pronounce Species Correctly
In a message dated 2/24/05 2:53:37 PM Eastern Standard Time,
<< If I didn't know you to be the charming, guileless person that you are, I
could be persuaded that what you are proposing here is a devilish scheme to
keep Robert, Neil, Edmondas, Ellen and me occupied and unable to make trouble
(except for each other) for several weeks.>>
I assure you that I am absolutely sincere. In asking I am not seeking to
emphasize the complexity of the situation, nor deny it, nor reduce the matter to
absurdity, nor finesse busywork. I do not cherish obscure agendas, and I shun
those who do.
At one time Tom Little had a very handy guide on his webpage, but no more.
The guide noted that in England a traditional quasi-official English
pronunciation of Latin developed and that was the form used in Botany and the Law. I
don't find this surprising given that the English have had an equivocal atttitude
toward Rome, and the continent for that matter, since they were wearing hides.
Anyway, on his page Tom had rules, and pronunciation guides, for a selection
of Iris species. It was a useful tool. An even simpler tool, a list of
specific epithets with a phonetic pronunciation guide alongside each, if parked in
the archives of this list, might also be useful, or so I thought.
I think there are lots of sets of rules in place here, two of them major, and
I will say that I am not convinced that either is wholly sound or realistic
when put into active play. Epithets vwhich are comparatively simple to deal
with, those which are Latin, or Latin derived from the Greek, seem amenable to a
classical pronunciation. But what of those derived from diverse other
languages, which seems to be many? This is what Jeff was getting at.
What level of linguistic sophistication is it realistic for the rules of
pronunciation of Botanical Latin to presuppose if all sorts of exotic words,
proper nouns, archaic spellings, place names imposed on obscure localities by
indigenous peoples long dust, or transient occupying forces who thereafter redrew
all the maps, or the fancies of poets, are selected by the authors of these
names? What proportion, if any, of non-Latin components in a binomial renders
application of the rules of classical Latin farcical?
I think there are a lot of questions, which is probably why there are a lot
What I have asked is that those who are competent to do so-- and they do not
appear to be many--attempt to make a guide to pronunciation of some of the
species of the genus Iris along the lines of Classical Latin, combined, of
course, with the rules of Botanical Latin as appropriate. This is not a challenge,
and people are certainly free to ignore it without prejudice.
Richmond VA USA
I took on my part of the task by typing out a list of names, the
preponderance of the Iris species in the most recent authoritative book, such as it is.
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