Pronunciation of botanical names

Den Wilson
Mon, 09 Dec 2002 15:31:54 PST
Hello all,
A very enlightening discussion!

My bottom-line is this: It's not being informed of correct pronunciation or
the origin of plant names that irritate. In fact, I have a great interest in
them (thank you Jane). It is being forcibly corrected in mid-sentence that
inflames me. My feelings are coloured by being witness to an incident at a
plant show where a panel of experts were answering questions 'on air' to an
audience. A lady got up - clearly very nervous - and hesitantly began her
question. She was so nervous that she dissolved entirely when a member of
the panel shot her out of the sky over Latin pronunciation and she could not
bring herself to finish her question. At the time, I felt like very loudly
and deliberately mis-pronouncing a few good, old-fashioned, Anglo-Saxon
words of my own. It cured me completely of ever attempting to correct
anothers pronunciation unless asked. Even then, I can never be absolutely
certain I am correct.

In common with Jim, I always understood that botanical Latin was a written
language deliberately and intentionally used to avoid ambiguity and overcome
language barriers. In that context, pronunciation is not an issue and does
not matter.

Jane's excellent posting prompts me to ask if it is wise to attempt to
absorb (or borrow) botanical Latin names into native language - where
pronunciation problems begin to arise and ambiguities re-emerge  - or is my
question naive?

Den Wilson
Isle of Wight

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