Botanical Latin

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Botanical Latin is a technical language based on New Latin, used for descriptions of botanical taxa. Botanical Latin_sentence_0

Until 2012, International Code of Botanical Nomenclature mandated Botanical Latin to be used for the descriptions of most new taxa. Botanical Latin_sentence_1

It is still the only language other than English accepted for descriptions. Botanical Latin_sentence_2

The names of organisms governed by the Code also have forms based on Latin. Botanical Latin_sentence_3

Botanical Latin is primarily a written language. Botanical Latin_sentence_4

It includes taxon names derived from any language or even arbitrarily derived, and consequently there is no single consistent pronunciation system. Botanical Latin_sentence_5

When speakers of different languages use Botanical Latin in speech, they use pronunciations influenced by their own languages, or, notably in French, there may be variant spellings based on the Latin. Botanical Latin_sentence_6

There are at least two pronunciation systems used for Latin by English speakers. Botanical Latin_sentence_7

Neither system, however, works across the full spectrum of botanical names, because many non-Latin words, such as people's names, have been used. Botanical Latin_sentence_8

Origin Botanical Latin_section_0

Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle described the language in 1880: Botanical Latin_sentence_9

De Candolle estimated that to learn Botanical Latin would take three months' work for an English speaker not already familiar with any language of Latin origin, and one month for an Italian. Botanical Latin_sentence_10

William T. Stearn wrote: Botanical Latin_sentence_11

Orthography of taxon names Botanical Latin_section_1

Latin names of organisms are generally used in English without alteration, but some informal derivatives are used as common names. Botanical Latin_sentence_12

For example, the -idae ending of subclass names is changed to -ids (e.g., Rosidae produces rosids); the subfamily ending -oideae is changed to -oids (e.g., Papilionoideae produces papilionoids). Botanical Latin_sentence_13

The -ids common names have, however also been adopted as rankless clade names, sometimes containing further -ids clade names, so that, for example, in the APG IV classification, rosids contain both fabids and malvids. Botanical Latin_sentence_14

More extensive modifications to the spelling and pronunciation are routinely used in some other languages. Botanical Latin_sentence_15

French organism names are usually gallicized. Botanical Latin_sentence_16

For example: Chlorophyceae becomes Chlorophycées; Portulacineae becomes Portulacinées. Botanical Latin_sentence_17

Alphabet Botanical Latin_section_2

The Classical Latin alphabet consisted of 21 letters, to which w, y, and z were later added, and the vowel/consonant pairs i and j, u and v, were later separated. Botanical Latin_sentence_18

This 26-letter alphabet is used for taxon names in Botanical Latin. Botanical Latin_sentence_19

Diacritics are not used in names, and a dieresis is considered an optional mark that does not affect spelling. Botanical Latin_sentence_20

Pronunciation Botanical Latin_section_3

See also: Syllable stress of Botanical Latin Botanical Latin_sentence_21

Some English speakers, and some speakers of other languages, use the reconstructed pronunciation guide for Classical Latin when speaking Botanical Latin words. Botanical Latin_sentence_22

Latin names pronounced by gardeners and English botanists usually follow a system close to English. Botanical Latin_sentence_23

It differs greatly from classical pronunciation, and also from Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation (which is based on Italian, and has, for example, c before i or e pronounced as ch). Botanical Latin_sentence_24

Classical pronunciation Botanical Latin_section_4

Every vowel is pronounced, except diphthongs, which are treated as single long vowels. Botanical Latin_sentence_25

The rules also create difficulties with the -ii and -iae endings derived from personal names, because the stress falls in a place that is not usual for those names. Botanical Latin_sentence_26

English pronunciation Botanical Latin_section_5

The following table is simplified from Stearn 1992. Botanical Latin_sentence_27

The pronunciation transcriptions for medical terminology in major medical dictionaries, such as Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary and Stedman's Medical Dictionary, match these values. Botanical Latin_sentence_28

Resources Botanical Latin_section_6

Online Botanical Latin_section_7

Botanical Latin_unordered_list_0

  • Finding derivations /meanings for epithets. See, e.g.,: (Site does not always give a derivation)Botanical Latin_item_0_0
  • Botanical Latin_item_0_1
  • Botanical Latin_item_0_2

Books Botanical Latin_section_8

Botanical Latin_unordered_list_1

  • Stearn, W.T. (2004) "Botanical Latin" (4th ed), Timber Press, Portland Oregon. ISBN 9780881926279Botanical Latin_item_1_3
  • Backer, C.A. (1936) (Explanatory dictionary of the scientific names of .. plants grown in the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies...)Botanical Latin_item_1_4
  • Brown, R.W. (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.Botanical Latin_item_1_5
  • Cambridge University PressBotanical Latin_item_1_6

See also Botanical Latin_section_9

Botanical Latin_unordered_list_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Latin.