pronunciation of Latin names

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Subject: pronunciation of Latin names
From: "Vader Willem Jan Marinus" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 12:53:59 +0100

I work in a business---amphipod taxonomy---where we always use latin
names; there are about as many species of amphipods as there are species
of birds, but almost none have vernacular names. And Katarina Stenman is
right, in this respect we are 'divided by a common language', more
specifically by disagreement about how to pronounce scientific names.

 An example will make this clearer: many of 'my' amphipods have two pair
of claws ('hands' the great Jerry Barnard called them) and in the jargon
of the taxonomist these are called gnathopods. Now I come originally from
Holland, and thus pronounced this with the usual throat-scraping Dutch g
(ch rather) and the stress on -poda (ChnathoPOda). Moving to Norway made
not all that much difference, only that the g now was pronounced as in the
English Gary; the stress remained on the -POda. The french change the
stress to GNAthopodes and the English do the same; in addition they don't
pronounce the g at all, and say NAthopods (Moreover the t of all the other
languages becomes the English th here). While the mellifluous Italians
have another variation, and talk about 'njatoPOdi' !

As I said 'divided by a common language. And bird names are pretty much
the same; f. ex the genus name Aythya in an official British
pronunciation, as on Jeffery Boswall's bird sound records, becomes
AiThWYa, while at home and here in Tromsø we say AYthia; there are no
Romans around anymore to ask, and the Latin scholars disagree among
themselves, so there we are; we'll never now which one was right (And yes,
I know Aythya is probably also Greek). Best to take a  fieldguide with
you, and point at the pictures!!

Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum

9037 Tromsø, Norway

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