Leo A. Martin leo@possi.org
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 19:31:58 PDT
> ...Dr. Lehmiller's guide in Madagascar was named
> Mr. Razafindratsiraea [SIC]...

Uh... I think his name is Alfred Razafindratsira, pronounced
alphabetically with the accent on the DRAT, and the final -ea in the
plant's specific is Latinization. Alfred runs a nursery in Antananarivo,
which is pronounced an-ta-na-na-REEV in formal speech but usually called
Tana. In the Malagasy language almost all final vowels are silent, a final
-SY usually represents the SH sound in English, and many place names are
shortened in colloquial speech. (Note the adjective referring to
Madagascar is "Malagasy", pronounced ma-la-gash, and not "Madagascan",
despite the fact that many sources use the wrong adjective.)

We can thank a Welshman for deciding how to write spoken Malagasy in the
Latin alphabet, which explains why it's so easy to sound out. (That was
sarcasm.) I haven't studied the language enough to figure out whether
those silent terminal vowels carry any linguistic significance. When the
French colonized the island they wrote the words as they would be spelled
in French, which is why all the place names are different between old and
newer maps.

> You couldn't force me at gun-point to go some of the places Dave
> Lehmiller has happily gone hunting plants. (Well, maybe to Namibia....)

Trust me, any plant lover would be infatuated with Madagascar and would
want to botanize for months at the least.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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