How to Pronounce Scientific Names (modified from Simpson 2010, Plant Systematics
Although scientific names are universal, their pronunciation may vary from region to region, especially between different
Note that “ie” is not a Latin diphthong, but two separate vowels, each of which would be pronounced separately, as in
Occasionally, adjacent vowels will resemble a diphthong, but are actually separate vowels. In “ligatured” typesetting,
Determining whether a vowel is long or short generally requires consulting a Latin dictionary.
A single consonant between two vowels or diphthongs goes with the second one
Exception: an “x” between two vowels or diphthongs goes with the preceding one
Two adjacent consonants between vowels or diphthongs are split evenly
Exceptions: these combinations go together with the following vowel:
bl, cl, dl, gl, kl, pl, tl
br, cr, dr, gr, kr, pr, tr
ch, ph, th
Of three or more consonants between two vowels or diphthongs, all but the first
go with the second vowel or diphthong
Figure 16.3 Rules for converting Latinized scientific names into syllables.
“C” or “g” is hard (pronounced like “k” or a hard “g,” respectively)“C” or “g” is hard (pronounced like “k” or a hard “g,” respectively)
Exceptions: “c” or “g” is soft (pronounced like “s” or “j,”
respectively) when followed by the letters/diphthongs
e, i, y, ae, or oe
When a word or root begins with cn, ct, gn, mn, pn, ps, pt, or tm,
the first letter is silent; only the second letter is pronounced.
NOTE: The above is not true if these combinations occur in the middle of a word!
“Ch” is hard, pronounced like “k”
“X” at the beginning of word or root is pronounced like a “z”
An “x” within a word is pronounced like “ks”
A fi nal “e” or “es” is long
A fi nal “a” is short
A “y” is pronounced like a short “i”
For “uu,” both “u”s are pronounced, the fi rst long, the second short
An “i” at the end of a syllable is short
An “e” is long if it is derived from the Greek diphthong “ei”
Figure 16.4 Rules for pronunciation of Latinized scientific names, ` representing a grave accent denoting a long vowel, ´ representing
an acute accent denoting a short vowel.