21 July, 2018

I Say Tomato/You Say Tomahto; Dilemmas of Pronunciation Solved!

There's a lot of Latin used when one really gets into plants.  It can be a little intimidating.  Because of a somewhat rudimentary, and non-science!, education, most of my learning is from critical observation and reading. No matter what courses one takes, a healthy dose of learning by actually doing it, is probably the best education anyway.

This can be problematic - as my life has proved! It has been very hard, for example, to dive in deep enough to related subjects about which  I'm not very enthused - one reason my connection to chemistry can be a little nebulous at times - I would rather have a couple of teeth pulled rather than do time in a chemistry book. I have learned enough, but just enough and I'm not a wizard of the Periodic Table by any stretch of even my vivid imagination.

The other major problem in my life - especially as an instructor - is pronunciation. It can be a dead giveaway to say the right word, but pronounce it wrongly. I have done and still do that a lot. Many of the Latin words suffer from being pronounced in Latin, to my chagrin. Then sounding those words out phonetically with English rules and taking that result to bat, has caused me enough embarrassment. Even with pronunciation symbols in such books as Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners or Fearless Latin one can stumble and fail. (There are other Latin dictionaries, but these are two of the best.)

A Penn State shot of the flower (and check out those really
attractive leaflets slightly out of focus!) of Cicer areatinum - the plant
that started me on this quest for pronunciation

And then we were given the internet!  

Now we can be free from that kind of mistake!  Introducing pronouncekiwi! Because the Latin words do not stop. If you are going to do plants - and do them right - knowing their names becomes kind of important.  I have a talk this afternoon on chickpeas (garbanzos) and lettuce.  

So chickpeas.  How do  you say Cicer areatinum?  You type in prouncekiwi and Cicer areatinum and in an instant can hear several different voices from many different cultures saying those words as often as you press the button. In our example of the chickpeas, you will find 80 - yes, that's eighty!!! - different recordings of the binomial!  Amazing. I listened to them all and decided to emulate an English pronunciation that seems possible to wrap my tongue around (7th from the top).

Your mileage my vary! But swing by the pronouncekiwi and give it a whirl. I'm loving it! You too can know your pronunciation is spot on and say these Latin words loud and proud. 

We take tips....

david








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