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new Chinese dinosaur names
From: Ben Creisler email@example.com
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:
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historical references in their dinosaur names.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.