At this past spring’s Missouri Native Plant Society Spring Field Trip, I was asked if I would be interested in writing an article for an upcoming issue of the Society’s newsletter, Petal Pusher. The planned theme for the issue was Latin and scientific nomenclature, though I was free to choose the precise subject. Being much more of an entomologist than I am a botanist, I was honored, and being a bit of a pedant, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about—the title of this post serving as an obvious clue.
Now, I don’t claim to have any special expertise in pronunciation of latinized nomenclature—in fact, I’ve never taken a single course in Latin. Nevertheless, I’ve probably studied and mulled over the subject a bit more than most, and age likely has also given me a bit of perspective on balancing adherence to “rules” (to the extent that they exist) and ease of use.
In that spirit, I offer the following article, which was just published in the newly-released July–August issue. It’s a light-hearted and (hopefully) fun read intended to provide readers with tips for making pronunciation of scientific names a little bit easier and a lot less intimidating. I’ll let you be the judge on whether I accomplished that goal.
p.s. The subtitle of the article is a nod to James Trager, who contributed another article in the issue dealing with the origin and use of Latin in botanical nomenclature… while explicitly side-stepping the question of pronunciation!
©️ Ted C. MacRae 2022