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new Chinese dinosaur names



From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org
Subject: new Chinese dinosaur names

I might as well put my two cents worth in on the 
pronunciation of the new Chinese dinos.
Assuming that the authors correctly followed the pinyin 
transcription when latinizing the new names (not always 
the case, as I have discovered with various Chinese 
works), the closest English approximation for the 
pronunciations would be:

Chuanjiesaurus chwahn-jye-SAWR-us
Huabeisaurus hwah-bay-SAWR-us

Note that the Chinese part of both names should be 
pronounced as two syllables only. There's not much point 
in trying to form the consonant and vowels EXACTLY as in 
Chinese. The "j" in "jie" is quite different from a normal 
English j-sound (it's pronounced further forward in the 
mouth and is not voiced)--it also contrasts with the 
retroflex j-sound written "zh" in pinyin (as in 
Zhongguo "Middle Kingdom" (=China)). An English speaker 
would pronounce the two j-sounds alike. The "h" in "hua" 
is like a German ach-laut, as pointed out by some 
correspondents, not a sound ordinarily used in English. 
The "b" stands for an unaspirated "p" sound (as in "spay" 
in English)--English "b" comes close enough, however.

Nick is quite correct--the apostrophe is used in pinyin to 
show separate syllables so that xian and xi'an are 
pronounced like "shyen" and "shee-ahn." Without having 
seen the original, I assume a'naensis means from someplace 
called A'na (pronounced ah-nah as opposed to ahn-ah)--but 
I need to see the original article in Chinese (and, of 
course, the apostrophe drops in the Latin name per ICZN 
rules). I just sent a posting to Dinosaur On-line to add 
an entry for Abrosaurus dongpoensis and was somewhat 
amazed to find that the species names refers to Su Dongpo, 
a famous writer (1036-1101 AD) from Sichuan during the 
Song Dynasty. At first glance I assumed "dongpoensis" 
meant from "East Slope" (the literal reading of the 
Chinese characters). However, a complete translation of 
the etymology revealed the real source of the name, the 
Latin -ensis ending notwithstanding! Chinese 
paleontologist love to make obscure literary and 
historical references in their dinosaur names. (Of course, 
maybe they're not obscure to people in China!)

A few other overlooked quirks of pinyin transcription also 
bear mentioning. Pinyin uses a couple of abbreviated 
spellings: ui stands for uei (pronounced like "way") and 
iu stands for iou (pronounced like "yoh"). The umlaut is 
also used over the u to show the difference between a few 
words such as nu with an "oo" sound and nu with a sound 
like the German umlaut u.