What do the male/female latin name endings mean?

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by wcutler, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    In this Pterostyrax thread, I photographed the label saying "Pterostyrax hispida" in 2008, and now the label says "Pterostyrax hispidus" (yes, I know it's a new label). Some webpage I found yesterday indicated that "...us" was a male name ending, "...a", female indicator, and "...um" for not indicating male or female.

    From Ron B's response, it sounds like different trees in a species don't have different endings depending on their sex, so what does determine which ending is used (or do those endings mean something entirely different)?

    Was the first label here just a mistake, or has the name ending of the species changed?
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    They may simply be cleaning up the gender accord between the generic and specific name. Pterostyrax is masculine, so hispidus should also be (rather than mixed.) It's the equivalent of fixing a grammatical error like "he's my sister."
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  4. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Well, I was going to ask how Pterostyrax got to be masculine, but Ron's link so totally answered that question that it was fun to read. Nice to have that link here. Thanks.

    Now if that publication would just have covered pronunciation, and whether names based on French (for instance) names keep their French pronunciation until you get to the Latin end of the word, I'd have been very interested to read that.

    I'm supposed to be on the road now, but the person going with me wants to watch the Olympics opening, so I had some extra time. Now I'm off.
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Wendy, as far as I was taught the words brought over from foreign languages (like Fuchs, the root of Fuchsia, for example) should technically keep their native pronunciations and then the Latinate endings keep their Latin pronunciation. Fuchsia shouldn't be few-sha, it should be (roughly) Fooks-ee-a.

    Caveat lector: I have never met an English speaker who pronounces Fuchsia as Fooks-ee-a. However, every single Spanish speaker I've met pronounces it correctly. I attribute this to the proper pronunciation of Fuchs being very similar to a naughty word in English; in Spanish it's no such thing.

    ETA - Ron and I, along with the late great Steve Lucas, have argued without any real resolution about the "proper" pronunciation of Latin botanical binomials. I hold that the vowels must keep their Latin values, but that most consonants should take their modern English sounds rather than retaining their Greek or Latin sounds. If I said "ee-yoo-lee-oos kaiser" to you, you probably wouldn't think I was talking about Julius Caeser, but that is the proper Latin pronunciation. But I'm also perverse, and every time I see "ch" in a botanical name, I pronounce it as "k" (which is the proper Greek value for the chi) and I'll also tend to sound all instances of "c" as hard, since Latin has no soft c.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Like Stearn (Botanical Latin, the standard text on the subject), I reckon it's best to stick to classical Latin pronunciation for Latin names, as in e.g. "kikero", not "sissero", for Cicero. But it's often hard to remember to do so, particularly with some better-known names - I have to admit I find it hard to remember to say "kedrus" rather than "sedrus" for Cedrus, though I do usually say "aker" for Acer.
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Michael, how do you handle vowels? Variable or fixed? Is your Cedrus "kay-droos" or "ked-russ"?
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The latter, "ked-russ".

    Also for -ae-, "aye", not "ee", as so many so-called pronunciation guides claim. Thus e.g. Chamaecyparis, "kam-aye-kipe-ariss".
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    So what you're doing is keeping the consonants Latin, but giving the vowels their western pronunciation. For me, Chamaecyparis is "kam-aye-key-pair-ees."

    But I do agree with you 100% on the dipthong -ae-. That's clearly "aye" (as it is in Spanish, which doesn't surprise me a bit.)
     
  10. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yep. Basically the same thing Stearn says, if it is understood what is being talked about that is good enough (him thinking Latin might be preferable is not his bottom line on the subject).
     
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    With the seemingly endless online calculators available on the net I was surprised to not find one for phoneticizing latin words.

    @Daniel and Eric, it would be a good student project.
     
  13. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Hmm. From that page:
    I think that was written for me to read.

    It's not that I didn't believe the pronunciation - I just didn't get why (the name was Decaisnea - I called the guy d'kayne but wanted his plant to be d'kezz-nia).
     
  14. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Daniel Mosquin included an interesting aside in today's Botany Photo of the Day on Marah oregana on how that plant got its gender switched from masculine to feminine.

    Note that Ron B's link answered the original question.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017

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