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Re: pronouncing scientific names

James Purchase wrote:
"I don't think that anyone need worry HOW they pronounce them, just
sound them out, syllable by syllable. Remember that scientific names are
"latinized", NOT strictly Latin words and the language was never meant to be
spoken. It is a means of written communication, so there really isn't any
"right" way or "wrong" way to pronounce them. Don't sweat the details."

Jim, I think you've changed my mind.  Not quite 180 degrees, but about 170. 

I have been going to scientific meetings all the years I've been in grad school, 
and it drives me crazy to hear some of the pronunciations.
Here's how crazily some people Americanize the species name
of my favorite starfish (can you tell I'm a marine biologist?), 
Pisaster ochraceus:  
(with that vowel sound written as an upside-down e, at the end where the 'u' is).

I try to make an effort to pronounce things as plainly and clearly 
as possible, slurring as few syllables together as possible.
Oh- krah-say-us.
I've used Italian pronounciation as a guide, since that seems closest in 
intent to "Latinized" (whatever that is) and since you pretty much pronounce
every letter.  Except I use an English 'ch' and, I guess, Spanish 'ci' and 'ce,'
again, for clarity.
And I've felt that, darnit, everyone else should too!!!

But here's my reason:  
Lots of people at these meetings are not English speakers!  
There are professors & grad students from EVERYWHERE.
Russia, Japan, Chile, Mexico, Spain (that's 3 kinds of Spanish right there!),
Quebec, South Africa, Kenya, Nunavut, New Zealand, anywhere there's salt water.
All these languages pronounce some vowels, consonants, dipthongs, differently.
But we still have to talk to each other.

So I try to make it easier for audiences to understand what I'm saying.

Now James points out that the principle of 'making it easier' does NOT 
always mean 'pronouncing things in some prescribed way.'
When you're discussing aquatic plants, 'easier' means however you want to say it,
as long as the listener understand what you mean. 

So now I have changed my mind, and agree with James:
"Give _anyone_ who dares correct your pronunciation of a scientific name
 a dirty look." 

But it might make things easier, when talking to non-English speakers, 
to keep in mind that not everybody pronounces things the way you do.

Steff Zimsen
geeking away at her oceanography thesis, Ch.1, in New Hampshire