Gladiola Grown and Given Away

Jim McKenney
Mon, 10 Aug 2015 10:35:27 PDT
I wonder if part of the story involves the once very active Gladiolus Society of America. Because, for whatever reason, the prevailing pronunciation of gladiolus among the educated has been gla-di-O-lus since at least the early twentieth century, and because those with old-school Latin in their background were taught that as a Latin word the stress is on the third syllable from the end - gla-DI-o-lus, the members of the Gladiolus Society of America went so far as to vote on the matter. F.F. Rockwell's The Book of Bulbs (1927, I have the 1931 reissue) records this: 
"And, incidentally, these members have voted to give the much disputed pronunciation of the name of this flower as gladi-ó-lus, both singular and plural, for which the amateur owes them much thanks!"
My take on this is that the dispute between the gla-di-O-lus faction and the gla-DI-o-lus faction was taking place among the better read classes. But there was a third pronunciation already well established among the marginally literate: gladiola, with gladiolas (pronounced glah-dee-OH-luz). It persists to this day, and in some circles is very much a real word.
Jane, in suggesting  that it results from a reinterpretation of "gladiolus" as a plural *"gladiolas" - gives, I think, too much credit to the lexical skills of the marginally literate. Some of them seem to think that flower names should end in -a. 
Jim McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm just glad to have them. 

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