Jane McGary wrote: >Let's not let this thread get too far or I'll have to recycle my perennial >essay on it from Alpine-L. I would love to read that essay; please, recycle away! >once a classical philologist, then a linguist, and therefore now very >tolerant of ANY PRONUNCIATION THAT GETS THE MESSAGE ACROSS. First of all, the credentials are irrelevant. Let's not confuse the context of discovery with the context of justification. For anyone who slept through freshman philosophy: it's the idea which counts, not its source. I suspect that anyone who really knows about these issues also knows that there is about as much certainly about the purported facts of linguistics as there is certainty about the purported relationships of plants. Jane, I share your tolerance about pronunciations, and I have no illusions about there being one right way. But we do part company a bit on the issue of ANY PRONUNCIATION THAT GETS THE MESSAGE ACROSS. That's a great attitude to take if you see your goal as being primarily that of communicator. To my tastes, pronunciations are a matter of style. I'm not content to be only a communicator; I want to inspire people to think and learn about what these words mean, to understand why they are spelled the way they are, to see how they fit into the greater sphere of our intellectual life, to empower them to pursue a richer vocabulary, to understand things. Just as some people seem to think that it is preferable to use the vaunted "correct" names for plants, some of us like to be aware of what scholars in other disciplines have to say about the purported "correct" pronunciation of the languages from which plant names are largely derived. I take the pronouncements of botanists and the pronouncements of linguists with equally big grains of salt. For some of us, these issues add another intellectual dimension, another element of spice, a dimension which enhances our appreciation and allows tie-ins with all sorts of other things. It's a game, and it can be a lot of fun. Is it reasonable to expect everyone else to share this interest? Of course not. My hope is that those who argue for the least-common-denominator approach to the pronunciation of these names will extend to me the same tolerance which they seem to think is their due. It's not my life goal to "correct" clueless people who say ny-fof'-ee-ah or el-scholtz'-ee-ah or ah-jer-ray'-tum. I just don't want them telling me what to do. This topic has been a source of fascination all of my life, and I am still learning. I don't know it all, and hope I never do: it's still a thrill to look at a word which I've known for years and to suddenly see it in a different light, to understand its literal meaning or etymology for the first time, to realize that it is not at all what I thought it to be - and yes, to wonder how I could have been so dense about it for so long. And I know this, too: no one need worry about pronunciations because by and large no one cares. Jim McKenney firstname.lastname@example.org Montgomery County, Maryland zone 7, where I'm usually the only one who talks to me in botanical Latin, and even we sometimes disagree about pronunciations.