Latin pronunciation

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Thu Feb 25 08:51:25 CST 1999

Which reminds me of a fellow graduate student some 40 years ago whose
perfect English came with a different accent from mine (or Joseph's, I
imagine) and who had great difficulty explaining to his fellow graduate
students that he was going to do a project on "Tarah tsakm", and even
explaining with the common English name Dan Dillion did not help much.
John McNeill
  John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum,
  100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
  Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744  e-mail: johnm at
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Latin pronunciation
Author:  "JOSEPH E. LAFERRIERE" <josephl at AZTEC.ASU.EDU> at Internet
Date:    25/02/1999 08:35

>    Many, many foreigners (but few
>  American-speaking people) pronounce Latin
>  names in Latin. Much more foreigners are
>  slightly better educated than you
>  think.

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."

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