pronouncing names (ae endings)

Roger Burks rogerburks at EARTHLINK.NET
Sun Jun 23 00:01:35 CDT 2002

Of course, AY-EE merges into a long "a" sound (as in "paid"). The classical
Latin pronounciation that I learned was a long (English) "i" as in "aye,"
which is what one gets by merging the two vowels in classical Latin
pronounciation. "A" sounds like "ah" always. "E" sounds something like "ay"
but I suspect it was really a sound somewhere between that and "eh." If one
wants a standard that isn't going to change from one place to another, that
is the way to go. Another choice would be Ecclesiastical Latin, which is
standard but different from what the classical pronounciation was decided
to be. I don't approve of trying to come up with any other way of
pronouncing things just because it makes sense in the speaker's native

It's a moot point anyway, as I think for most people it would be just as
easy to try to speak through their noses as it would to learn a whole new
way of pronouncing these names, so it isn't worth the trouble of correcting
people as long as you know what they are saying.

Roger Burks

At 03:47 AM 6/23/02 +0000, you wrote:
>     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
>Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at

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