pronouncing names (ae endings)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 23 03:47:36 CDT 2002

     I'm no Latin scholar, so this is just my personal opinion.  I think the
safest way (and perhaps the most proper way) is to pronounce -ae endings as
a diphthong (since that's what it is, in my opinion anyway).
     So Canidae would be CAN-i-DAY-ee (where AY is a long "A")  But the
DAY-ee is sort of elided together into one and a half syllables (or even
slurred together so fast it approaches just one syllable -DEE).  And I would
pronounce Poaceae as po-AY-see-AY-ee.
     After all, even the word "day" is usually pronounced as a diphthong
(with some "E" sound following the long "A"), so pronouncing a family name
(zoological or botanical) without at least some of that -EE sound on the end
would actually take some special effort to avoid.  I personally like to
pronounce family name endings with a little less emphasis on the "a" and a
slightly more on the final "e" sound, but perhaps the safest way would be to
pronounce the a and e equally in length and emphasis (sort of like an
Australian might say "good DAYEE").
     In other words, if you are anywhere between a pure long "A" and a pure
long "E", you should be okay.  If some purist on either side wants to
complain, that's their problem (not yours).   :-)
           ----Cheers,    Ken
P.S.  Likewise, I would pronounce Linnaeus as "lin-NAY-EE-us".
>From: "Susan B. Farmer" <sfarmer at GOLDSWORD.COM>
>Reply-To: "Susan B. Farmer" <sfarmer at GOLDSWORD.COM>
>Subject: Re: Dialogue about the catalog (and pronouncing names)
>Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 22:45:59 -0400
> >
> >At 07:07 2002-06-21, Freek Vrugtman wrote:
> >>Around that time Philip Muntz of Flora of California fame visited the
> >>herbarium; over coffee I asked him how he pronounced botanical names;
> >>reply: "It all depends where I am."
> >
> >More than a decade ago, Armen Takhtajan of the Komarov Botanical
> >visited Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and gave a seminar. Afterwards,
> >asked that questioners pronounce scientific names in the European
> >because, even though he was quite fluent in English, he could not
> >the names pronounced in the English fashion. Several of us in the
> >ended up "translating" the names for the rest.
> >
>Which is the English Fashion and which is the European?  A hundred years
>ago when I was an undergrad, family names ended in -AY-SEA-AY; now (at
>least my major professor) they seem to end in -AY-SEA-EE.  I still hear
>both -- and I say both.
>Inquiring Grad Students Want to Know!  :-)
>Susan Farmer
>sfarmer at
>Botany Department, University of Tennessee

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