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Re: Beipiaosaurus and Caudipteryx pronunciation
Aha! Finally, a use for that Classical Languages degree!
On Sat, 29 May 1999, Ben Creisler wrote:
> In reply to Ralph W. Miller III's 5-26-99 query, Beipiaosaurus
> is pronounced bay-pyow-SAWR-us. In the pinyin transcription,
> Chinese bei is pronounced like "bay" and piao rhymes
> with "meow."
Right. In standard Chinese, pinyin transcription, b actually says "p"
like in Spanish or French, with no aspiration. P says "ph", that is,
aspirated p, with a little puff of air afterwards (this is how p is
normally pronounced at the beginning of a word in English, German, or
Norwegian). So Beipiao is technically "pay p-h-yow", but that's getting
> The city is also spelled Pehpiao, Peipiao and Peip'iao--
Yes. Older transcriptions used p, t, k for the voiceless, unaspirated
consonants (b, d, g in pinyin) and p', t', k' for the aspirated consonants
(p, t, k in pinyin). Everyone thoroughly confused now?
> On the subject of pronunciations, I was a bit startled to hear
> Phil Currie pronounce Caudipteryx kaw-dee-TAYR-iks,
> with a silent internal "p," during a recent lecture here in Seattle.
> Since he pronounced Sinosauropteryx sigh-no-saw-ROP-te-riks
> with the Latin-style stress on the third syllable from the end
> and the internal "p" intact,
This seems to be purely a matter of taste. Under both Greek and Latin
accenting rules, the accent should fall on the i in Caudipteryx. Then
again, if we really want to get picky about our Latin and Greek
pronunciation, it should be something like "cow-DIH-pteh-ru"ks", where u"
is a u-umlaut sound like in German. I know of no paleontologist who
customarily pronounces this name in this manner. :-)
My guess is that the "p" was dropped because of the reluctance in English
to begin an accented syllable with "pt".
> Generic names are considered Latin words regardless of the language
> of the word roots. While English speakers don't pronounce the
> initial "p" in pterodactyl or psychology, the French and Germans do
> in the equivalent words in their languages. Fully English terms such as
> pre-Ptolemaic (with a silent p) aren't the guide to follow for scientific
> such as Archaeopteryx and Caudipteryx, which are New Latin, not English
OK, so do we have to give all the vowels their Continental values,
pronounce oe as "oy", ae as "aye", au as "ow", y as u-umlaut, and use all
hard c's and g's? What about vowel lengths, and Greek pitch accents?
(I'm just needling. I've been known to use more than one variant
pronunciation of a name on different occasions. Whatever sounds good at
> Might as well get one more pronunciation problem off my chest--
> Achelousaurus. This one has to be pronounced ak-e-LOH-uh-SAWR-us,
> NOT a-KEE-lo-SAWR-us, as I recall hearing.
I'm not going to touch this one. As Ben pointed out, the name is a mess,
and I stumble over it every time I see it. If you want to be true to the
Greek, the way the name is currently spelled, it should be
"ah-ke-LOO-saw-rus". But truer to the original would be
Sorry for the non-dinosaurian ramblings.