Kniphofia in South Africa

Jim McKenney
Sat, 13 Dec 2008 04:42:58 PST
Tim wrote: “Leo wrote:" Kniphofia should probably be included in Aloe"


Which I'm assuming should be pronounced 'Al-OI', Jim?”



No. You’ve picked up on part of what I was explaining, but not all of it.


If one wants to represent the sound al-oi in Latin, one writes aloe. 


However, the name of the plant is not Aloe, it’s Aloë. Those two little dots
over the e indicate that the o and the e are to be pronounced separately;
they indicate that there are three syllables and not two.  They indicate
that the oe is not the diphthong oe but rather the o sound followed by the e
sound. By the way, those two little dots are not an umlaut, they are what is
known as a dieresis. 


The code of nomenclature accepts the word printed with or without the
dieresis. In the old days, there were probably not many printers in the
English-speaking world who had type fonts for the dieresis, and it’s rare to
find one. In the modern world there is no practical reason not to use it.  


Aloë is pronounced a-lo-e (remember, it’s Latin, not English, so it’s
something like AH-lo-ay).


This three syllable pronunciation is at least two millennia old, older in
fact than classical Latin (it was a three syllable word in classical Greek)
and is still observed by many (mostly outside the English-speaking world). .



Jim McKenney

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