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Re: Pronunciation Database

Christopher Taylor wrote:

  I'd like to note, too, that scientific names are regulated only with an
eye to written communication, not spoken communication. So there isn't such
a thing as an 'official' pronunciation of names.

Yes, there is: it's the way that the creator of the name intended it to be pronounced (whether that is etymologically incorrect or not). While we have no real hope now of ever finding out whether or not Marsh wanted it pronounced "dih-PLAH-dih-kuss" or "DIH-ploh-DOH-kuss," there are instances where we _know_ how it should be pronounced. For example, Ostrom is recorded on numerous video tapes (and probably other media) saying "die-NON-ih-kuss," so anyone who says "DIE-noh-NY-kuss" is wrong, period, even if it ruins a perfectly good rhyme with "MON-oh-NY-kus." Sadly, this rule is also true for formation names: the Pierre Shale is not (to the eternal, ear-shattering chagrin of French persons everywhere) pronounced "pee-YEHR;" it's pronounced "PEER." That's because the clearly non-French speaking people of Pierre, South Dakota, for some reason, call their city "PEER," and the formation is named after the city. Along similar lines, the capital of Iowa is "deh MOYN," not "day MWANH," which is what it would be if pronounced "correctly." And I won't even start on how to pronounce "New Orleans!"

    I didn't say it was a _good_ rule; I just said it was _the_ rule.

Heaven forfend that anyone ever name anything after the town of Pueblo, Colorado, because the natives there pronounce the name of the city "pee-EH-bluh." But this is, after all, why pronunciation guides should be MANDATORY when publishing a new name!

Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
Science Building
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT  84770
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
E-mail: jharris@dixie.edu
and     dinogami@hotmail.com

An expert is a man who has made all
the mistakes that can be made in a very
narrow field. -- Niels Bohr

After one look at this planet any visitor
from outer space would say "I want to
see the manager." -- William Burroughs