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Some hints for the pronounciation of Latin names.

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  • caniswatch
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27, 2002
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      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-
      ci-pi-ter gen-ti-lis).

      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)!

      Cindy Schotte
      Malibu, CA
      caniswatch@...
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