Friday, September 05, 2008

Pronunciation of Biological Latin

I found this site describing the proper pronunciation of biological latin. Having no real formal biology training, I have clearly been mispronouncing some terms. One that I, and many others I speak to, are mispronouncing according to the site are family names like Sulidae. I always pronounce the "ae" as a long A (SOO-lid-ay), but according to the site it should be a long E (SOO-lid-ee).

8 comments:

Dana Zipkin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana Zipkin said...

Thanks to my uncle, a former history teacher, I have a very cool book of root words, pronunciation keys, etc. for Latin and other languages. If you want to check it out, I'd be happy to pass it along.

Patrick Belardo said...

That would be cool if you have it handy! I have a book of US bird names and the meaning behind their English and scientific names. This would be a nice companion to that book. I'd love to check it out.

Rick said...

Hmph, what a lot of pedantic garbelaciousness! The conventions of Latin pronunciation have nothing to do with the way we pronounce scientific names--the author of the page you cite is a linguistic and historical naif.

Scientific names (which are NOT Latin but rather "Latinizations") should be pronounced in ways consonant with the pronunciation rules of the speaker's native language. For those of us who speak English--a language delightfully resistant to the regularization of spelling and pronunciation--that means that there is lots of leeway for variation.

Patrick, you haven't been pronouncing anything "wrong"--just differently from the person who devoted so much valuable time to putting that sheet together. A fascinating artifact of amateurism, but of no relevance to the world of words.

Actually in a very g o o d mood this morning,
r

Patrick Belardo said...

Rick, you are a wise man indeed. Thanks for the insights. I'll gladly keep pronouncing things the way I do.

Maybe I will also start saying comb, tomb, come, tome, cough, rough, and though as they should be said. I feel for people who need to learn English.

Rick said...

Yeah, I don't know how they do it--it's hard enough to learn languages that behave predictably!
:)
r

Christopher Taylor said...

I second what Rick said, at least about the fact that Latin pronunciation does not necessarily dictate scientific name pronunciation. Something I find myself having to explain on a regular basis is that scientific names are regulated on how they are written down, not how they are said, so there is no "correct" way to say something.

Besides, the first thing I saw on the page was an error, anyway - "CH" does not correspond to "K", it corresponds to "KH". There's an aspiration in there.

Dana Zipkin said...

I'll give the book to Mark...he can give it to you on the 13th. I want it back, though. :oP