Some hints for the pronounciation of Latin names.
- In view of the ongoing discussion of the pronounciation of scientific
names, I would like to offer the following, which I have adapted from
Wheelock's Latin (pub. by HarperCollins) and material written by Dr.
R.A. Johnson, a classist formerly at UCLA):
1) In Latin, a word has as many syllables as it has vowels or
diphthongs, and syllables "like" to begin with consonants (e.g., Ac-
2) Words of two syllables are always accented on the first syllable
(the penult). For example, the mew gull is: "LAH-rus CAH-nus".
3) Latin words of three or more syllables are accented on the penult
if it is "long". If it is "short", the accent falls on the syllable
before it (the antepenult).
4) A syllable is "long" either by nature or by position. It is "long
by nature" if it contains a long vowel or a diphthong. It is "long
by position" if it ends in a consonant. Thus, the goshawk is "ah-KEH-
peh-ter GEN-teh-lees". (Please accept my apologies for my lack of
skill in written phonetics).
As usual, however, nothing is simple. Most scientific names are
Latin but some are derived from Greek works (as is the infamous Genus
em-PEH-doh-nax) and a few are Latinized from proper nouns. As
nomenclature has developed, it has not always conformed to the rules
of Latin grammar. In addition, most Latin texts omit the macrons
(or "long marks") that provide information about pronunciation. In
view of these (and other) problems, when faced with difficult or
unfamiliar words, it may be helpful to initially syllabify and then
scan to determine which syllable to accent.
I hope this is helpful. Bonam fortunam (good luck)!