Latin pronounciation

Jim McKenney
Fri, 12 Dec 2008 09:17:14 PST
Jane McGary wrote “Another complication that arises, which hasn't been
mentioned, is 
that writers from Russia and the former Soviet countries often come 
up with variant spellings of plant names when they're transliterating 
them from Russian floras without looking at roman-alphabet floras for 

A while back I hit on this great idea: I wanted to brush up on my Russian
spelling, so I though I would practice by transliterating the botanical
names of plants into Cyrillic and then check them against Russian language
web sites. When I did this I had just the surprise Jane mentioned: even the
Russians sometimes get it wrong. 

Here’s something interesting I noticed recently. On the Scottish Rock Garden
Club’s bulb forums there is an Armenian forum member who has posted pictures
of tulips from a Russian source. What caught my eye is that the images have
the Russian names of the tulips embedded in the image. But here’s what’s so
interesting: the Russian names are phonetic transcriptions of English names
as a rule. It would have been simple to actually translate the English into
Russian, but instead the phonetic transcription is given. I fell asleep that
night having fantasies of visiting Russian gardens and hearing the gardeners
call their tulips by the names familiar to me but in a heavy Russian accent.

Not many of the tulips we grow have Russian names: off hand, only
Perestroika comes to mind. 

I also decided to learn the Japanese alphabet they use to write foreign
words so I would be able to read Japanese botanical names on Japanese web
sites:  I downloaded the Japanese fonts and somehow that caused all of my
YouTube hits to appear in Japanese. To be continued,,,

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

More information about the pbs mailing list