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pronunciations

Posted by Teri2 6b/7a TN (My Page) on
Wed, May 23, 01 at 15:11

I'd love to see the botanical pronunciations included in Hortiplex.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: pronunciations

You picked a hard one, Teri! I have studied botany in Michigan and Texas, and even the professors do not agree on the pronunciations.

Linnaeus invented the binomial system to be used in writing, and since few people are familiar with the pronunciations of both Latin and Greek, it is better left unspoken.

Most of the time, we can get by with pronunciations of the common names, then a really big star like Martha Stewart does a spot on TV pronouncing Clematis as Klemm'ah tis. So maybe that is the way they say it where she came from...


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RE: pronunciations

Actually, I have someone working on this. ;-)

While Barb is right, a lot of Latin and Greek is anyone's guess, there are a lot of the more common names that do follow conventions.

It will also have some "meanings" of plant names, but that's even more subjective.


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and this, too, grows easier with use. while you can't default the gracefulness of 'achillea filipendulina' as it rolls from your tongue, you have to smile and admit that 'yellow-flowered yarrow' is the same thing... just not quite as cool...

-dicken.

p.s. i've always called clematis "klem'-[short a]-tis.. just like m.s. ah, well. -d.


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Sounds like Martha's mangling the pronunciation of (or confusing the flower with) a female body part *g*....


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Over here (Britain) most people say 'Clemay-tis'. I'd have terrible trouble trying to get round 'Klemm'ah tis', that 'h' would give me a sore throat.

There'll be other problems - take Fuchsia. This is derived from a German name (named after the German botanist Karl Fuchs), but in Latin pronunciation, the -uchsia should correctly be pronounced '-ucksya'.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions of the result . . now you can guess why most English-speaking people pronounce it 'Fewsha'!

Michael


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Michael you are ever the caution

Indeed there is a disagreement in linguistic circles about proper latin pronunciation (and this is ignoring for the moment the massacre that lawyers make of legalese latin- for instance when they adjourn without a new date they say sine die which should be pronounced see-nay dee-ay, but which they say sign dye) I intensively studied in the sixties and the seventies ecclesial latin, when it was last possible to do so as a semi-living language. We learned the pronunciation as it was passed down from mouth to ear for generations and centuries. Then we encountered the so-called scholastic or classical pronunciation, a new pronunciation imposed by German scholars recreating what they believed to be the correct way but imposing Germanic usage. So the ringing words of the conquering Caesar were no longer "Veni vidi vici" but the weakly whispered words of Kaiser: "whenny weedy whicky"

Briefly there is no y, k, w or j
the consonants are mostly pronounced as we do. The v is pronounced as we do, not as a b like the Spanish nor like a w like the Germans. The c and g go soft before i and e (Genitori). The c before i may be as in our ch (cithera). a hard c sound in front of i or e is made by the q, with the u making often a w sound: quid pro quo. The th is pronounced softly as in hither or with

the vowels are as follows

the a is short as in father (Pater Noster)
the e is like a long a as in day
the i is like the long e as in knee
the o is like a long o as in oat
the u is like a long u as in loose
there is no letter y

So Martha was right about the cleMAHtis (clay-mah-teas).

The accent is usually on the penultimate syllable unless otherwise indicated, thus hemeroCALLis and not hemer=O=callis (rhyming with broccoli's)

much needless confusion arises as Michael indicates due ot the fashion a century ago of Europeans traveling around the world and naming plants, animals, dinosaurs, etc. after their personal friends and lovers, many of whom had impossible to pronounce names that were not in any way relevant to the object they were imposed upon. How many thunbergii's do we need?

So Spike makes a great suggestion to give us a Latin lesson of those names which ARE descriptive such as glauca, nigra, alba, biloba, nana, papyrifera (?), et cetera.


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Hi Charles,

Of course Caesar was really commenting on the qualities of his opponents - "weeny, weedy, weaky"

I fear you have it the wrong way round with German? - they pronounce w as a v, not the other way round - the v they pronounce as we say f. Hence the German car Volkswagen (VW) is pronounced 'folksvargen' in English (with the l pronounced, not as in the English version of folk, pronounced 'foke'!).

I still can't believe it is 'clay-mah-teas' - that aspiration in the middle is surely wrong. Just try saying it three times, and you have a sore throat. People would suspect you had severe bronchitis, coughing and wheezing in the middle of your words like that. Maybe 'clay-ma-teas', but not 'clay-mah-teas'.

Michael


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RE: pronunciations

Well, I guess Im lucky on that one :-)

I have absolutely no problem pronouncing Latin botanical names but I can understand some of them are difficult for English speaking persons.

According to Charles vowels equivalence, over here, most people pronounce Fuchsia foo-chee-a [same a as in father]. Difficult to give an english equivalence for the u - its not really ew [as in yew/Taxus], its more short/brief/sharp. When I read yew, I pronounce ee-ew but the French u is just ew. Its not like in loose though - Oh well ! Too difficult to explain. So, back to Fuchsia : we French pronounce it foo-chee-a but the Belgian often pronounce it foo-ksee-a and I think its the right way to spell it - especially because, as said Michael, it was named after Karl Fuchs, Fuchs beeing pronounced Foo-ks.

Now for Clematis, I think its just clay-ma-tees (short tees, shorter than in peas or please, just a brief ee - I would have an excellent comparison but its a bad word, maybe you can guess which one !) I too wonder where that h inspiration in the middle comes from, never heard of it and I doubt it is right.

Another kind of problem is that there are no intonations in Latin words. Clematis is just 'cle-ma-tis', but pronounced in English, it gives 'cle-ma-tis'.

Olivier.

Charles, Ive been tought to pronounce Veni vidi vici vay-nee vee-dee vee-chee - je suis venu, jai vu, jai vaincu.


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well, most of my Latin studies were at Solesmes from folks who had mixed feelings towards their conquerers of thirty years earlier (fresh and comlex memory for many), and disdain for differing secular scholastics, so I may have gotten my information third hand misinformed.

I believe the question with clay-mah-teas is that I am reading the h as unaspirated, whereas Oliver and Michael are reading the h as aspirate. I only add the h to show it is the short a, not the several variations of a possible in ENglish (especially as massacred on my shores), understanding as an earlier poster did that the h was not to be pronounced anymore than certain words and names referred to above. So the addition of an h in the pronunciation guide clay-mah-teas is a silent h, not the h of the correctly pronounced Hannukah or of the Scottish Ach, laddie!


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RE: pronunciations

I get the idea, but surely in a pronunciation guide, you put in what is intended to be pronounced, and if the h isn't to be pronounced, it shouldn't be there!

Michael


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  • Posted by
    Charles_connecticut 6a CT USA
    (antares@snet.net) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 01 at 9:09

unfortunately on this side of the pond it makes the difference between ma as pronounced on Beacon Hill in BOston a century ago, or as pronounced in South BOston fifty years ago.

ma as in mawl or ma as in mad

a soft short song or a bashing bleating


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RE: pronunciations

There's a site about trees and woody plants which gives you the possibility of downloading a file with the pronunciation of the botanical name. I include the link below. The pronunciation is surrealistic.
Regarding ecclesial Latin pronunciation, it's just modern Italian pronunciation, and nothing passed on through generations (the Vatican is in Italy, and the way Latin is pronounced there migth be a cannon for Catholic priests, but not for me).
In latin, the C must be always pronounced as a K, even before e and i. Then Sciadopitys verticillata should be pronounced Ski(like the winter sport)-a-do-pee-tees Ver-tee-kee-la-ta (the a sounding like the u in cut). C like English ch before e and i is plain Italian, not urban Latin. Qu is pronounced kw, like in English "quest"; pronouncing it like "kest" is French (or Spanish). As for the v, you can pronounce it as in English, when Julius Caesar wrote "veni,vidi,vici", he probably was using the fricative sound it now has in English. The pronunciation as an English w that some scholars defend was probably a very old one, and out of use even between cultivated Romans in I b.C. By the way, Sciadopitys is a Greek name (as hemmerocallis), and should be pronounced following the Classical Greek pronunciation rules...

Francesc Sau

Here is a link that might be useful: Sci-a-DOP-a-tees vert-ti-sil-LAH-ta


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RE: pronunciations

Thank you, Francesc (hard or soft c? or ch sound as in Italian?)
Oh the limitations of the written word to convey paralingistic indicators like irony, emotion, etc., but especially to convey sound through an irrelevant written symbol. At least Latin is a phonetic language; centuries and millenium from now if Homo sapiens still exist will they be discussing the proper pronunciation of ancient English text? Aye, a tough task, you must agree? (will they ask whether tough rhymes with tug?)

Your point about Greek is well taken. A quarter century ago outside our Catholic Churches could be heard regrets that they should have kept some Latin, if only the Kyrie Eleison. (which is of course Greek)

But what can we do with all those proper names that snuck into the binomial nomenclature, like thunbergii? How to pronounce the th? Like Latin?!

And the mix of languages as Francesc indicates! What to do with names that are half Greek, half Latin and half northern European proper names (wait- that makes three halves), etc.?


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Hi Charles,

Peoples' names (and place names) are a bit of a nightmare in scientific names. You are supposed to pronounce them as in the language of the name, but with a latin-pronunciation ending. So thunbergii is pronounced tun-bairg-ii.

The fun starts when you get a less familiar language involved . . . orchid people have to think about the correct pronunciation of Polish, as in:

Warszewiczella

Which I read should be pronounced Var-shee-vi-chella

Or how about Scots pronunciation of:

Menziesia

Which should be Ming-is-ia, but in practice, almost never is so pronounced!

Same too I guess for Douglas-fir - have you ever heard it correctly pronounced: sewdo-tsooga ming-is-ii??

Finally, think yourself lucky you don't deal with the scientific names of shrimps. These genera exist to baffle marine biologists:

Cornutokytodermogammarus
Swartschewskiechinogammarus
Toxophthalmmoechinogammarus

All this is from the best book on the subject, William Stearn's Botanical Latin.

Michael


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All this discussion of ecclesiastical latin and classical latin is beside the point. In English-speaking countries (we'll let Olivier do whatever he wants), the convention is to use (English) botanical latin, which butchers the original tongue in the same way English-speakers have butchered just about every other language that creeps into our usage.

Unfortunately, to properly apply the "rules" of botanical latin (such as they are), you do have to know the classical stresses of the word. Then just mess with the vowels.

An easy one: verticillata is:
ver- (like "her")
ti- (as in "Tim")
cil- (as "sill")
la- (as "lay")
ta (as in "tug")
Note that the "stressed" syllable gets the "long" English vowel.

But who would realize that viola should be VYE-o-luh? As if any botanist would dare, but strictly speaking that's correct.
In hostas, the one that gets me is plan-tuh-GIN-ee-uh where classical latin would have plahn-tah-gin-AY-ah. (where "ah" is phonetically the low mid unrounded vowel).

Of course, as Michael points out, the inclusion of proper names into botanical names poses problems. Are plants named for Robert Fortune pronouced FOR-choo-nye or for-TOO-nee-AYE?

For clematis, I can guess that KLEM-uh-tiss is correct, but so could be kluh-MAY-tiss. But the oft-heard pronunciation on these shores is kluh-MAT-iss. When the latin name has passed into common vernacular, who can say it is wrong?


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Hi DrTigger,
I know that botanical names are often pronounced according to the local tongue pronunciation rules, but then, what's the point of using Latin? We all should pronounce it in a similar way if we want to be able to communicate with people from different countries. If you say Cedrus the way you do in English, I can assure you that every person around you who has Spanish as his mother tongue will believe you're talking about fermented apple juice. More or less the same if you say Acer as in English; everyone from Spain, Italy or France who is not used with the way English speakers murder Latin won't understand you. And what about botanists whose language is not written with the Latin alfabet? What should a Chinese botanist do?
I realize that proper vowel length is almost impossible to master, and no one knows what to do with a plant named after a Polish botanist, but following some simple rules and leaving the more complicated ones (vowel length and stress, latinized surnames) we can arrive to a decent common usage for botanical Latin.

Francesc (first c soft, as an 's', second c hard, as a 'k')


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DrTigger,

I find your pronunciation guides unpronounceable!!

How on earth do you say 'plahn' ??? - sort of pla-hunn'?

plan-tuh-GIN-ee-uh? - plan-tu-huh(wheeze, cough)-GIN-ee-uh(asthma attack)

this is ridiculous!!

BTW, verticillata - where on earth do you get the idea that its pronounced '-lay-ta'???
It isn't, its more like '-lar-ta', if anything.

Michael


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Michael, that's the problem with these darn keyboards. Everything is a convention when it comes to orthographic pronunciations. I simply meant that "ah" to represent the vowel sound in "pot", for example. I'm happy to use a form of I.P.A. (using for schwa), if you're happy to read it. Why English dictionaries insist on using macrons (lines over vowels) to make "long" vowels rather than use IPA is way beyond me; perhaps it's the English way to ensure that our cockamamied spellings persist ad infinitum.

That makes plantaginea = pln-t-dI'-nIi- in (English) botanical latin where the classical pronunciation is, well, plan'-ta-gi-ne'-a (or perhaps plan'-ta-di-ne'-a).

And yes, on this side of the pond, reputable botanists will say (using IPA again) vr-tI-sI-lEi'-t. It goes against everything I know, but that's the way it is (here, at least). I can almost tolerate this in botanical latin, but in fact the English speak this way in ecclesiastical situations, too: when saying Long Live the Queen, e.g., they say vai'-vt r-dai'-n (vivat regina), and the Benedicite is bE-n-dai'-cI-tEi. Really. Maybe this was yet another way to separate themselves from the Roman Church. (BTW, of course everyone says "d In-f-nai'-tm" instead of "ad in-fi'-ni-tum" as well.)

Sorry, Francesc, but English is taking over the world (what a pity). I imagine, though, if you put an anglophone and non-anglophone botanist together, it wouldn't take long before the English speaker saying Ei'-sr and the other saying a'-ter (or even a'-ker) landed on the same page.

Just curious: did anyone see the penulimate episode of The West Wing this year? (For those who didn't, the fictional president launches into a vehement monologue railing against God following the funeral for his secretary--in Latin!) Which Latin pronunciation did he use?


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I believe he used the fuzzy ecclesial form reserved for former US altar boys entering the senility of recollecting things from youth more clearly than what was for breakfast that day as presented by a modern US actor. Of course Mr. Sheen also has a strong Spanish background (actually Mr. Estevez) as well as Catholic background from when the Church was the Church (after all he took his professional surname from his admiration of Fulton Sheen), which gave him an edge over others.

sure is better than the LAtin heard in courtrooms and legislatures every day.

In any case: ad infinItum would indeed be pronounced on the penultimate syllable according to accepted authentic usage, except where indicated with an accent, as in et ce'tera


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not in your EYE

and would be

een fee NEE toom

not

in fin EYE tomb

I can't do those fancy pronunciation aids that show up as little boxes over here.


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RE: pronunciations

DrTigger,

Would that everyone knew IPA phonetic symbols! I regret I'm not very familiar with them myself. Then there's the problem of using them - I've actually got them on this computer as my father is a linguist and uses them, but most people don't have them as they're not in the skimpy set of characters that Mr Gates chooses to allow us.

And even for those that do have them, from your own posting, its obvious that they won't reproduce properly with Gardenweb's available fonts. Maybe Spike could solve that by installing IPA though.

I'd never have dreamt of using 'ah' to represent 'o' in "pot" - that just seems a totally weird concept. Given a pronunciation guide 'paht' I'd end up saying 'past' except with the 's' sound replaced by an asthmatic wheeze. Gruesome, and a quick recipe for a sore throat.

Michael


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RE: pronunciations

for which a quick sore throat recipe of
clover honey and uiske would be required

Have we yet solved the question of how to post pronunciation aids on the ambitious Hortiplex project?

Apparently there exists too great a national and international divergence, so until some final authority or international body makes a declaration (which would immediately lead to war) we must make do with what we have.

Now to enjoy my Chamomile tea (oops, did I pronounce that properly?)


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RE: pronunciations

Sorry about missing (box) letters; my win2000 box and my Mac Cube show them (more or less) as I wanted, but maybe win95/98 boxes don't?

Tigger


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RE: pronunciations

When the latin name has passed into common vernacular, who can say it is wrong?

In a nut shell - someone from another country, where the common vernacular is different.
I guess this thread could go on in-fin-EYE-tum :-)


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isn't that
ad infinitum?
pronounced
een-fee- KNEE- tomb

(I see what you mean . . .)


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While we're at it, anyone want to take a stab at "Phaeomeria"?


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  • Posted by deb29 7Burlco.NJ (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 26, 01 at 20:23

I know what you mean. I told someone who rattles off I'd pay a fee to get a daily sound bite. If I was somebody who could rattle off.....Somebody steal the idea for us babies. What do you think, you can call it the Daily Plant Rattle......Sounds like a riddle trying to figure the correct way and then when you have it down...it's hard to break the habbit.


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RE: pronunciations

I've been reading all of this and trying to learn something. A lot of my plants have the species name "jasminoides". A good friend whose mother was a brilliant gardener of Austrian descent has told me it is pronounced "yas-min-oh-weed-ees". Now I am having trouble believing that this is correct. Can anyone clear this confusion for me?


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RE: pronunciations

  • Posted by Norm1 9 FL US (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 20, 02 at 23:33

Right on. Very close. More like "yas-min-oh-weed-ehs", but close enough for our vernacular treatment of english.I would suppose that here we locals would just settle for "jazmin-oy-dees" and be confident that most(not all) of our fellow gardners would understand us. It has been a long time since your posting so I may Email you direct with my amateur attempt at clarification. Good Gardening!


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RE: pronunciations

Hello
i found this post "by accident" i made a recording of 348 roses ( French names ) for the Antiques roses forum , perharps it will help you to discover my pronunciation
;-) the mp3s are zipped and free of rights of course

Here is a link that might be useful: my recording folder


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