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Re: Penelopognathus

On 8/25/05, Tommy Bradley <htomsirveaux@hotmail.com> wrote:
> This brings up a question:  If the g in Gnatho- (prefix) is silent, then why
> pronounce it in the suffix (-gnathus)?

The answer is that it's NOT silent, but speakers of English (and many
other languages) find it hard to pronounce.

Different languages adapt different Latin/Greek words differently.
Spanish speakers pronouce "femur" "correctly", i.e., as in Latin,
while we English speakers say "fiy-mrr" (more American) or "fiy-ma"
(more British). But, then, they say "Estegosaurus" (for "Stegosaurus")
and "berrebra" (for "vertebra").

> A prime example being *Compsognathus*.  Although I believe the consensus on
> *Compsognathus* is, "Pronounce it however you like, as long as we know what
> you're talking about."

As a visit to a gathering of paleontologists will show you, that's the
rule for ANY name. Indeed, any technical term. See how many
pronunciations you can get out of "diplodocid", for a good example.

I've sometimes thought one could do a cladistic analysis of
pronounciations and see how it compares to educational pedigrees.
Score "0" for "app-o-morf-ee" and "1" for "ape-o-morf-ee" ... or do I
have the polarity mixed up...?

—Mike Keesey