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Re: Details on Protopteryx
In a message dated 12/14/00 6:51:31 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> Is this chap going to be
> "PRO-toe-teryx", or "Pro-TOP-teryx", with the emphasis on the middle
> syllable? Please say that it will be the former - what is the point in
> the ICZN mandating properly formed Latinate names if they are then
> mangled by non-Latinate pronunciation?
If this were a question of Latinate vs. non-Latinate pronunciation, I would
probably agree; however, the dropping of "p" out of word-initial consonant
clusters like "pt", "pn", and "ps" is purely an *English* idiosyncrasy (both
letters were pronounced normally in Greek, which is the source of practically
all such words).
When "pt", "pn", and "ps" come between vowels, the two members are
distributed to different syllables, and it is no problem to pronounce them
both, which I usually do, since it is closer to the original Greek
pronunciation (though admittedly still not very close).
Accent placement is a matter of taste:
If you want to do it like Latin would, it's pro-TOP-te-ryx (the "e" in the
-te- syllable is short, so the accent moves back to the third-from-the-last
If you want to do it like Greek would, it's pro-top-TE-ryx (the -x at the end
of the word counts as two consonants, which makes the last syllable long and
pulls the accent onto the second-to-last syllable).
And if you want to be REALLY pedantic, the "p"s and "t"s are unaspirated, all
the "r"s are flapped, the first "o" is pronounced sort of like "aw" in
English, the "y" is pronounced like a German umlaut-u, and the accented
syllable is pronounced about a musical fifth higher in pitch than the other
As a side note (for those of you who haven't already heard mention this a
thousand times), the Greek root pter-, as in "pteron" and "pteryx", which
both mean "wing", comes from the same source as English "feather".