This stems from the discussion over at the Paratrechina-Nylanderia thread - http://antfarm.yuku.com/t...nderia-160#.TwCc1JjlAUU . There are lots of opinions on this, but I observe that most English speakers pronouncing scientific names just follow their own, idiosyncratic set of rules, if any. By the way, I also note many speakers of languages other than English set their own rules, derived from the spelling systems of their own languages, even though they claim to be using authentic Latin pronunciation. Note that though we may not have it exactly, exactly right, reconstructive lingusitic research has given us a very good idea of what Classical Latin and Greek sounded like. A scholar familiar with this reconstruction, and able to speak Latin could easily be understood on the streets of Rome 2000 years ago, though would probably sound a bit bookish and stilted.
There are three different "standard" ways to pronounce Latin and latinized Greek words used in scientific names.
- Classical pronuciation, based on linguistic research and the traditional norms of Classics scholars, is closest to the original. This is used by biologists with a broad liberal arts education that included study of Latin and/or Ancient Greek (which is commonly pronounced with a Latin accent by classicists).
- Church Latin pronunciation, as used in Vatican City and formally in the Catholic church, and taught in Catholic schools and universities. Church Latin is strongly influenced by the pronunciation of Italian, which itself is the most conservative modern language (preserves the most features) derived from ancient Latin, now spoken in the same region where Latin was spoken as a mother tongue. This pronunciation is common in the English-speaking world among biologists with a life-long education in Catholic institutions.
- There is also a standard way of pronouncing Latin words in English, this layed out in such books as the Borror and DeLong's "Introduction to the study of insects", or more immediately relevant to this readership, G. and J. Wheelers' "Ants of North Dakota" and "Ants of Nevada". I find this system rather silly and partially arbitrary. It is based on assigning often rather different English sounds to each of the sounds of the classical languages, and thus requires a knowledge of the classical forms, then rendering into English equivalents - so it's just memorization, unless one already is familiar with classical prounciation! Finally, why does it insist on discriminating vowel length but not consonant length (doubling)?
Saving the best for last, I present to you the system used in the Jepson manual of the "Flora of California", the simplest of all, with just a few rules, and my favorite, though I don't follow it perfectly because I get confused by my knowledge of classical pronuciation:
- Pronounce all consonant letters as in English, with the following exceptions:
----- 'C' and 'CH' always pronounced like 'k', as in cat, cot, cut, including before 'e', 'i', and 'y' (so, Centromyrmex starts with "kentro-, difficilis is pronounced "difikilis", etc.)
----- 'G' and 'GH' always pronounced like 'g' in gave, get, give, got, gubernatorial
- All vowel letters have just one pronuciation (like in Spanish), thus:
----- 'A' as in father
----- 'E' as in they (or shortened to the 'e' in get before a double consonant or when not accented), and always pronounced, never silent, thus sessile pronounced "sess-il-eh")
----- 'I' (and vocalic 'Y') as in police, or the name of the French town Vichy (shortened to the 'i' of bit when not accented)
----- 'O' as in bone
----- 'U' as 'oo' of voodoo, or in the name of the Hawai'ian fish humuhumunukunukupua'a (never, ever like the "yu" of cute, human, pupa or the British pronuciation of tube)
- All words of more than one syllable are accented on the penultimate (second from the last) syllable.