pronouncing names (ae endings)

Nico Cellinese ncellinese at FMNH.ORG
Mon Jun 24 10:45:12 CDT 2002

This is what I learnt from going to school in Italy, where we are still forced to learn Latin from middle school throughout high school.  We were
thought Latin using the soft c's, although rarely teachers might insist in having the soft c's converted to hard c's, so Cicero (Chi-che-ro) becomes
Kikero; however, from my personal experience most of us learnt Latin using the soft c's only.  For example, the family Asteraceae is pronounced
A-ste-ra-ce-e: the a in -ra is an a as in apple, the -ce is -che, and the final -e is another e as in che, two equal, but clearly separate sounds.  In
general, the c is always soft before e and i; it is hard before o, a and u.  That works for Italian too.  When I moved to England to go to College and
then later came to the US, I had to teach myself a new way of pronouncing latin names, because nobody could understand me; so here I am, still
feeling a little silly and pronouncing Asteraceae the way we all do, with the final -eae sounding like one long e, not to mention the many other
variations on the theme also regarding other vowels and consonants.  But hey, we can understand each other and that's ok by me!  I am not sure
why I had to learn a new way of pronouncing Latin rather than the other way around (you guys learning my way) but that is the way it is and I
think it would be a little unrealistic to force everybody to pronounce latin names the correct way.  I didn't say wrong, just unrealistic.   If people
have not learnt Latin at school, how are you planning to teach correct pronounciation to the scientific world?  I don't think it would be a trivial
exercise.  As a foreigner, I feel comfortable, I learnt the rules of the English pronounciation and I stick to them.  I have no problems with that! I
honestly didn't find myself in a situation where I could not communicate using the English pronounciation of Latin.  When I go back to Italy I switch
back and stick to the rules of Latin.  If I deal with a non-English foreign collegue we use the English pronounciation because we speak English to
understand each other.  It works.

Nico Cellinese
[Pronounced Chellinese with all short -e's like in "led", including the last one; I should say though that part of my fun living in another country is to
be able to pronounce my last name "Sellinese" whitouth anybody laughing...apart from me of course!]

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