Names and pronunciations

J.E. Shields
Fri, 11 Apr 2003 16:21:20 PDT
Hi all,

I always enjoy these discussions of pronunciation of botanical Latin.  I 
had 3 years of "classical" Latin (i.e., not Church Latin) in high school), 
but that was almost an eternity ago.  So Jamie, Hamish, Harry, and all, it 
has been very entertaining and very educational.

Harry, I like your phrase "snobbish linguistic terrorist" -- my term is 
"language bully" but yours is much better!  May I use it too in future 
discussions of pronunciation?  No matter what you call them, we are morally 
bound to ignore them.  Botanical Latin is best considered to be a written 
but not a spoken language.

So the critical point is to be sure you and the persons with whom you are 
speaking all understand what plant you are talking about. Whether it's 
spoken as KLEYE - vee -uh or KLIFF-ee-uh or KLEE-vee-uh is not the point.

By the way, I think I pronounce Lachenalia as lock-enn-AHL-yuh.

So don't let yourself be bullied or terrorized by language snobs.

Another point worth noting was mentioned by Jamie: phonetic spellings from 
other languages.  Since Botanical Latin must be written using the Roman 
alphabet, Cyrillic and Greek names have to be "Latinized" -- but how an 
American speaker of English does it, compared to how a German speaker does 
it, can lead to those strange "mis-spellings" mentioned.  Even something 
apparently as straight-forward as Trillium catesbyi is more often seen as 
T. catesbaei.  I assume the poor man's name was Catesby.

Great series of exchanges!

Jim Shields
in central Indiana, where a strange similarity is sometimes noted between 
Hoosier "English" and Schwyzertüüsch

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA                   Tel. +1-317-896-3925

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