Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How do you say Pittosporum?

I generally assume that the rest of the plant world knows how to correctly pronounce botanical Latin and I’m the one with the lack of ability. So when I hear a couple of plants-people whom I respect pronounce Pittosporum a new (to me) way I pay attention.

Just to check my new assumption I decide to visit the Fine Gardening Magazine pronunciation guide. That’s when things get interesting. Turns out if you just want to say Pittosporum it sounds like Pit-toss-poor-um.

But if you want to say Pittosporum tobira or Pittosporum tenuifolium then Pittosporum sounds like Pit-o-spore-um.

Try it: http://www.finegardening.com/pguide/pronunciation-guide-to-botanical-latin.aspx

What sense does that make? If you say my first name (Loree) it sounds like “Lori”. If you say my first name and my last name together well, my first name still sounds like “Lori” (well unless you get all fancy, in which case it sounds like Lereee in both examples but I grew up in Spokane…people don’t talk fancy there…maybe my name wasn’t the best example to use?)

13 comments:

  1. Fun with pronunciation! You made me look at the link to see what Fine Gardening said, even before I finished reading your post. How interesting. It's like another language. Oh wait, it IS another language!

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  2. This is so funny: I was just composing a horticultural Latin post myself and you beat me to it! Great minds do think alike.

    Pi-TOSS-poor-um? Hmmmmm..... Well, it fits with Ryan's rule of thumb (accent on the third-to-the-last syllable.)

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  3. Most people down south just say, "That overgrown green thing in the corner of the yard."

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  4. That is funny! I was last night looking at different ...ny-FOE-fee-ah or nee-FOF-ee-a or nip-HOFF-ee-uh or K-nip-HOF-ia ....

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  5. Yesterday I used Pittosporum as an example as to why Master Gardeners need to know their botanical Latin. I was teaching a class of newbies and mentioned that people from California refer to it as Mockorange, but to us Mockorange is Philadelphus, but the Latin stays the same no matter what your point of reference or the plant. BTW, to me it is Pit-o-spore-um.

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  6. I have noticed that before about the Fine Gardening pronunciation site. Another instance is "podophyllum" and "podophyllum hexandrum". So which is correct?

    Is there another site with pronunciation examples?

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  7. I've always heard Pit TOSS spore um. But then I call Clematis "clemmy" and crocus "crokie" so what do I know? I think pronunciation isn't as important as simply knowing the genus and species for ID purposes. But I've got a friend who constantly corrects me so I might have a bit of a bias.

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  8. When I hear 'plant people' pronouncing plant names, I always say, "You mean...and then I spell it." I never know how to say some of these names....

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  9. Aerie-el, another language that nobody can agree on evidently!

    MulchMaid, yes they do.

    compost, kind of like the Rhody's here then.

    Les, interesting...especially to think that means Spokane (where I had the Philadelphus version and it was called Mock Orange) is aligned with Virginians not the closer Californians.

    Jdub, I did several searches trying to find another site but finally gave up. There has got to be a couple of them out there somewhere!!!

    Grace, those folks that are always correcting just need to relax!!!

    Darla, seriously!? As in you can spell that crazy Latin? You are amazing.

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  10. You can tell so much about a gardening pal by how they go about correcting your pronunciation. How's about including a guide on Plant Lust?

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  11. We get familiar with them here, we call them "Pits". :)

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  12. Logically it should be pitto sporum, from the Latin 'pitch seed'. Sporum alone would mean seed as apposed to tosporum, which doesn't seem to mean anything!

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  13. I'm a Kiwi where we call the plant 'Pit o spore um' with the emphasis on the 3rd syllable, but I've moved to Australia where they call the plant 'Pit toss prim' with the emphasis on the middle syllable. Initially I had NO IDEA what they were saying, as they speak so fast anyway.

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