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Re: Pronunciation Question (kinda long)



In a message dated Thu, 5 Sep 2002 10:08:20 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
rob@dinodomain.com writes:

> I've heard that Archaeopteryx is actually not supposed to be pronounced with
> the P, and that Compsognathus is supposed to have the Gn 
> silent. Can anyone
> confirm or deny this? Thanks in advance.

OK.  I've been reading the responses to this post, and I can say that if we 
*really* want to be pedantic, 

the "p" is pronounced; 

the "g" before an "n" is probably pronounced like an English or German "ng"; 

all Latin c's (and Greek kappas) are pronounced "k"; 

all Latin v's are pronounced "w"; 

ph, th, and ch (or kh) are pronounced like p, t, and k with an extra puff of 
air (NOT like f, English th, and k or German ch);

all Latin and Greek a's are pronounced somewhere in between the (western 
American) English "a" in "hat" and the "a" in "father" (like in German, French, 
or Spanish);

"Archaeopteryx" is (more or less) ark-hai-oh-PTE-rüüks;

"Compsognathus" is kohmp-SOHNG-naht-hohss.

The point is that, if we were actually speaking Classical Latin or Ancient 
Greek, there would be one correct pronunciation (ignoring dialectal variation 
in both languages).  

The different modern languages have to come up with various ways to make these 
odd strings of letters conform to their various phonological systems, and 
individuals will often have different opinions about how that should be done.  

One of the things I find fascinating about going to paleo conferences (bearing 
in mind that I'm a doctoral student in linguistics) is the vast variety of 
pronunciations that exist for all these scientific terms, the vast majority of 
which are encountered on paper before they are ever heard pronounced.

I bet if you rounded up ten paleontologists and asked them each to pronounce a 
list of 50 dinosaur genus names, no two of them would have the same 
pronunciation for all 50.

Anyhow, my two cents.

--Nick P.