Pontificating about Proper Pronunciation

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Tue Dec 12 09:48:37 CST 1995

At 04:03 PM 12/11/95 -0700, Michael Ivie wrote:
>The idea that the anglophones of the world are ignorant savages because
>they cannot properly pronounce Latin, while the French, German, Russian,
>etc. scientists do is a crock!!

Another place I hang out on the Net is rec.music.early, where there are
discussions of "German", "French", "Italian", and "Church" pronunciation of
Latin lyrics.  I see the issue for early music as authenticity, because
people would like to hear something that they can at least pretend sounds
like it did 500 years ago.  For systematics authenticity is less important
than communication--does anyone understand what you are talking about?  I
remember when Armen Takhtadzhian gave a talk some years ago at Rancho Santa
Ana Botanic Garden, he requested that scientific names be pronounced in the
"European fashion", so he could understand them.  I and two other people did
"translations" for the rest of the audience.  Several American plant
systematists have encouraged American students to learn "European"
pronunciation, not because they think it is better, but rather to facilitate

And I still remember the first time I heard the British pronunciation
"a-MINE-oh" for amino acid (most Americans say "a-MEAN-oh").  In terms of
pronunciation rules, the British pronounce Latin-derived words in English
better than we do.

Curtis Clark        http://www.sci.csupomona.edu/biology/clark/clark.htm
Biological Sciences Department                     Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona    FAX:   (909) 869-4396
Pomona CA 91768-4032                               jcclark at csupomona.edu

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