Hymenocallis / Ismene

John C. MacGregor jonivy@earthlink.net
Mon, 05 Jul 2010 10:26:46 PDT
I agree fully with with Jim's linguistic analysis of the specific  
epithet "amancaes", including the proper spelling with the dieresis  
(sorry, my email program doesn't do diereses).

I might add that in modern Peruvian Spanish, the name is  
"amancay"  (pronounced "ah-mahn-ki"--the last syllable like an  
English long I).  As Dell wrote, it is now the name of a plant  
sanctuary (nature preserve) about forty miles south of Lima (pictured  
in the link provided by Jacob Knecht:


The name is from Quechua and is associated with a familiar legend  
that is recounted on the web thus;

«Era un vocablo de origen quechua, Amánkay, que significa "lirio o  
clavel del río" o bien "azucena o lirio silvestre". Una leyenda  
acerca de esta flor, hace recordar el valor y la fuerza de la  
princesa indígena que antes de sucumbir a las pretenciones del  
conquistador blanco, fue transformada en una delicada flor. La misma,  
a partir de entonces, creció con lozanía y fortaleza en las cimas más  
altas y áridas de las lomas limeñas.»

Which I translate:

It was a word of Quechuan origin, "Amankay" [written accent on the  
second "a"], that means "iris" or "carnation of the river" or, more  
correctly, "wild lily or iris".  A legend about this flower recalls  
the valor and strength of the Inca princess who, rather than succumb  
to the attentions of the white conqueror, was transformed into a  
delicate flower.  This same flower, ever since then, has grown with  
luxuriance and fortitude on the highest and driest heights of the  
hills around Lima.

Interestingly enough, the same name, "amankay," is applied to  
Alstromeria aurantiaca in Patagonia and southern Chile with an even  
more romantic legend that accounts for the red markings on the petals  
(blood, of course).  I doubt that this name is  of the same  
linguistic origin.

John C. MacGregor
South Pasadena, CA

> About the pronunciation and syllabification of the words amancaes/ 
> amancaës:
> Dell wrote: “I think I remember that "amancaes" comes from a  
> Peruvian place
> name where
> the plant grows.”

On Jul 5, 2010, at 9:21 AM, Jim McKenney wrote:
> I assume the word amancaes is derived from one of the indigenous  
> languages
> of Peru.
> If that is true, it gets its spelling from the sound of the word:  
> amancaes
> is a phonetic spelling, a way of representing the sounds of the  
> original in
> Spanish.
> Spanish vowels are technically divided into strong vowels (a,e, o)  
> and weak
> vowles (i, u). The general rule is that a syllable can contain only  
> one
> strong vowel. In other words, in Spanish the syllables of the word  
> amancaes
> are a-man-ca-es: it’s a four syllable word.
> When amancaes becomes part of a Latin or Latinized binomial, a problem
> arises. The letter combination ae in Latin represents the sound of the
> English word eye (for those who use textbook pronunciations) or the  
> vowel
> sound in the English word see (widespread usage in those who have not
> studied Latin or have rejected the text book approach). . In Latin,  
> ae is a
> diphthong and both letters may occur together in the same syllable.
> In Latin (and allowed by the International Rules) the dieresis  
> (those two
> little dots placed over some letters, e.g. ë, ü.  – not to be  
> confused with
> the German umlaut) is used to indicate that two letters which  
> typically form
> a diphthong are in this case to be pronounced separately.
> If one writes amancaes in Latin, that is a three syllable word. To  
> indicate
> four syllables, write amancaës. I think it is the latter which  
> approximates
> the pronunciation of the word in its source language.

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