Latin pronounciation

Fri, 12 Dec 2008 12:14:43 PST
The general sentiment here seems to be that pronunciation is a bit
like arguing about color: not much point in it for a variety of good
reasons. I agree with this and when someone asks about pronunciation I
usually say "It is best to go by the same rules one uses in a
Latin-based language such as Spanish, where vowel pronunciation is
consistent". This leaves off accents and more but it is a start.

This still leaves many problem areas that are more amusing than
serious, such as honorific latinized names. For example, the orchid
genus Rodriguezia, usually pronounced in the anglosphere as
"RodriguEzia" whereas the original name is "RodrEEguez". Thus if one
follows the "rule" commonly cited for Clivia of retaining the
pronunciation of the person's name we have "RodrEEguezia" which is not
euphonic to say the least. It's fun to implement this idea for
honorific names but once they have been latinized they have really
been formed into a different language and the original pronunciation
of a person's name becomes irrelevant. Genuinely following
pronunciation rules would mean following rules for Latin
pronunciation. The latter has its own sensibilities that growers and
even botanists are reticent to learn.

Anglicized pronunciation, even considering regional variation (such as
American vs. former Commonwealth states) is reasonably uniform and
stands in contrast to those who speak the romance languages and other
languages. These latter tend for the most part to follow the Latin
vowel rule (ah, eh, ih, oh, oo as in food) and I think this trips up
listeners and speakers more than strange-sounding accent placement.

Awareness of different pronunciations is far more useful than
searching for, or hoping for, a universal pronunciation.

Dylan Hannon

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