Adam Fikso
Mon, 26 Jul 2010 21:07:17 PDT
Well, wouldn't gatesii then be gah-tess'-ee-eye.  The letter e in Latin is 
not pronounced ee, but eh, with a breve diacritical mark over the e--it is a 
short  "e"  I DO remember my 6th, 7th and 8th grade Latin.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John C. MacGregor" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Monday, July 26, 2010 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] pronunciation

> On Jul 26, 2010, at 10:59 AM, wrote:
>> As a general rule, once a botanist has bestowed appropriate  epithets on 
>> a
>> taxon, the rules of Latin pronunciation and prosody take over. In 
>> particular,
>> "gatesii" would have all four vowels clearly sounded, roughly gah- 
>> tea-see-eye.
>> Of course, epithets based on Pinyin (romanized Chinese) present letter
>> combinations unknown to the ancients, hence all bets are off. For  that 
>> matter,
>> even such epithets as "winogradowii" and "mlokosewitschii" are 
>> significantly
>> non-Latinate.
> Sorry, Rodger, but I would respectfully disagree.  The reason for  naming 
> a plant--either genus or specific epithet--after a person is  to honor 
> that person's botanical or horticultural achievements and to  perpetuate 
> that person's name for future generations.  This is done  by adding the 
> appropriate latinized ending to the name itself,  according to 
> international rules for botanical nomenclature  established and amended by 
> periodic International Botanical  Congresses.  As such, only the ending is 
> latinized.  The name should  be pronounced as closely as possible to the 
> way the person  commemorated pronounced his/her name in the original 
> language.
> William T. Stern, author of Botanical Latin: History, Grammar,  Syntax, 
> Terminology and Vocabulary (New York: Hafner, 1966),  discusses the 
> ramifications of this rule at the end of his chapter on  "The Latin 
> Alphabet and Pronunciation."  He notes, "The main  difficulty is that this 
> method involves giving a German pronunciation  to 'Heuchera', a French 
> pronunciation to 'Choisya', a Scottish  pronunciation to 'Menziesia', an 
> Italian pronunciation to  'cesiatianus', a Polish pronunciation to 
> 'przewalskii, etc., and to  do this is more than most botanists and 
> gardeners can manage."  In  this chapter, Stern also notes that "the rules 
> [of Latin prosody]  cannot be applied satisfactorily to all generic names 
> and specific  epithets commemorating persons."
> Furthermore, Stern states that " about 80 per cent of generic names  and 
> 30 per cent of specific epithets come from languages other than  Latin and 
> Greek."  Some of us have wider linguistic backgrounds than  others, but 
> none of us can recognize the linguistic origin and proper  pronunciation 
> of all commemorative plant names.  Still, we should  make the attempt to 
> learn the original pronunciation in recognition  of the person 
> commemorated.  It is also fun and often enlightening to  learn something 
> of the biography of this person--particularly if the  name honors the 
> discoverer of a geophyte that interests us.
> Since Gates is an English name, "gates-ee-eye" is both the easiest  and 
> the correct pronunciation.
> John C. MacGregor
> South Pasadena, CA 91030
> USDA zone 9   Sunset zones 21/23
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