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Re: Why pronunciations are so confused

  • To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
  • Subject: Re: Why pronunciations are so confused
  • From: "john s. smolowe" <johnsmolowe@pacbell.net>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 08:32:03 -0600 (CST)

There is the question, "What is the correct pronunciation?" As the many
postings suggest, there are competing standards for correct pronunciation -
even for Latin.

And there is the question, "What is the commonly accepted pronunciation?"
Commonly accepted pronunciation varies from country to country - even for
Latin, but let's start with an easier example. Consider, for example that
Paris has at least 2 pronunciations commonly accepted (that of an American
and that of a Parisian). Consider that Notre Dame University's commonly
accepted pronunciation is different than Notre Dame Cathedral's; even a New
Yorker pronounces the 2 differently. New Orleans also comes to mind. And

The question most relevant to me is the commonly accepted pronunciation of a
plant name  in America, as I live there. I need to know that the genus Chysis
is in America commonly pronounced kai-sis, not chai-sis in order not to sound
foolish at the orchid show. If the British pronounced it differently I would
switch in England, just as I would ask the British hotel if they knew where I
could get a MASSage because asking for a massAGE would either get me a blank
stare or a laugh. (Though I'm not going to say "sis-m" for schism; I'll stick
with "skis-m"; I have limits).

I say A-ri-SEE-ma because that's what the mail-order nurseryman calls it when
I ask for plant A-364.

So for me there is - usually - a right pronunciation: the one commonly used
in a country or region that doesn't get me laughed at. Some plants (tomato)
of course have several commonly accepted pronunciations even in one region.
And there are the occasional plants nobody knows how to pronounce.

John Smolowe
Menlo Park, CA

Regferns@aol.com wrote:

> We are also forgetting that even though scientific (Latin) language is
> supposed to unite us,  our tongues and ears are geared toward our own
> linguistic systems.  A, E, I, O, U (and sometimes) Y will definitely have
> different sounds in different languages. Not to mention the combination of
> consonants along with the vowels. Just think about the differences between
> American English and British English when it comes to pronunciations.
> Reggie Whitehead
> South Miami, Florida

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