Latin pronunciation

Frank Lang Flang at SOU.EDU
Thu Feb 25 17:27:46 CST 1999

"Botanical Latin is essentially a written language, but the scientific =
names of plants often occur in speech. How they are pronounced really =
matters little provided they sound pleasant and are understood by all."  =
Stearn WT. 1992. Botanical Latin.4 ed. Devon: David & Charles. 456 p

>>> Carmine Colacino <colacino at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU> 02/25 8:09 AM >>>
I do not understand why Botanical Latin should ever be pronounced as
classical Latin.
Botanical Latin has a medieval origin, and should be pronounced accordingly=
The real problem, moreover, it is not how consonants are pronounced (as
somebody pointed out, here is the main difference in the way Latin was
pronounced in the Middle Ages), but rather the problems are the vowels.
There is where Europeans and Latin Americans (might) make fun of American
pronunciation. If you think about it, all problem (in reciprocal
intelligibility) would be very much reduced by pronouncing the vowels with
their basic sounds (and not diphthongized (sp?) as they are in present day
It wouldn't take much to learn how to do so, I believe.

Just my humble opinion. :-)

Carmine Colacino

> This is not even close to my point. "Billieturnera"
> is not Latin but English with an extra letter
> added to the end. Many people from many countries will
> have difficulty mispronouncing it.
>    I disagree with our statement anyway. Yes, non-Americans
> know much more about Latin than Americans do. However,
> I have never heard any botanist from any country pronounce
> Latin correctly, the way it would have been pronounced
> by Plinius Secundus. The gentleman assassinated in
> 44 BC pronounced his name "yoo-lee-oos kigh-sar" and
> was quoted as saying "weh-nee wee-dee wee-kee."
> European botanists pronounce Latin according to medieval
> rules, or else according to the ecclesiastical pronunciation
> of the Catholic Church (which is basically Latin with
> an Italian accent).
>    I have heard botanists in Latin America chide gringos
> for mispronouncing Latin, then in the next sentence
> pronounce "Juncus" as "Hoon-koos." Which is worse?
> --
> Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere
> "Computito ergo sum ...  I link therefore I am."

Dr. Carmine Colacino
Herbarium Lucanum & Dept. of Biology
University of Basilicata
85100 Potenza, southern Italy
e-mail: colacino at

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