pronouncing names

Roger Burks rogerburks at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jun 24 15:48:48 CDT 2002

Most of us are definitely not linguists (although I would recommend its
study to people who enjoy systematics). That's why I would rather follow
their lead in pronounciation. The guides to *Classical* Latin written by
people associated with linguistics are completely uniform as far as I know
(having perused American, British, French, and German guides to Latin) in
their guides to pronounciation. Accent is largely an artifact of
pronounciation, and is addressed in Latin the same as in every other
language that people have to learn. There is no point in learning how to
speak a language if nobody can understand you. Also, people who study
science should be required to know basic Classical Latin and Greek. We can
leave memorization of subjunctives and things like that out of such study,
but it is irresponsible to do otherwise, in my opinion. Some other people
have pointed out something I didn't know about Ecclesiastical Latin, that
it is arbitrary as well. This leaves only one standardized system for
pronounciation and stresses in Latin, if people want one. I would say the
same for Classical Greek, which in many ways is more important to the
scientist than Latin.

Roger Burks

At 12:55 PM 6/24/02 -0400, you wrote:
>Common names are names.  Scientific "names" are technical terms --  the
>biological equivalent of H2O or Au.  We compose these terms by a process we
>call Latinization (even though Greek is involved too).   These terms are
>made for us - to serve us and our profession.  This is accomplished by two
>simple functions.  One is technical the other communicative.  We all
>(regardless of our native tongues or accents) utilize these technical terms
>("names") for 1) universal identification and 2) primarily written
>None of us ever have a problem in _reading_ someone else's scientific
>"names" in a paper.  But when we talk verbally to that person and they say
>that same word(s) we have to ask what that is.  Sometimes this difficulty
>in audio communication is not because the parties are not using "proper"
>Latin pronunciation, but simply their accent as it affects their oral
>ability to form certain sounds.
>We are biologists, taxonomists and systematists - not linguists.  That is,
>our primary function is not in teaching students the proper classical
>pronunciation of a dead language (as we were subjectively taught by those
>who were subjectively taught by those who were subjectively taught) and
>then harassing them for failing to do so when we overhear them at the
>pub/club.  Do we see my point?
>In writing/reading our papers we are all in harmony of understanding the
>necessary, and Codes dictated, technical terms.   In everyday verbal
>communication, we are "just" talking shop.   (The only exception are those
>comparatively few times we present an official paper orally - and even then
>the paper copy is available.)  For those of us who work with groups (e.g.
>butterflies) that also have a lot of common names, we at times find
>ourselves just saying the common name when the individuals we are talking
>with aren't picking up on our pronunciation of the Latinized technical term
>A last point is that Latinization as employed by the Code (ZN for me) is
>primarily functional ( a means to the end of developing a universally
>understood technical scientific term)  and not grammatical.  This tells me
>that pronunciation (as a part of grammatical rules) is a secondary issue.
>Though not an unimportant one.
>Ron Gatrelle

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