time back I heard some fishkeeper (a Texan, because only a Texan
would be so pragmatic) explain why it is impossible to mispronounce
the names of the fish we keep:
They have Latin names, and Latin is a dead language. And obviously you cant mispronouce a word from a dead language.
Sounds good to me! Ive since used this handy excuse on several occasions.
From a practical standpoint, however, it does have a few flaws. For instance, it can confuse a conversation. On the phone a few days ago, the caller (a non-Texan, naturally!) was inquiring about a fish. Specifically, he wanted to know about our demon-sunny.
With his foreign accent too, it took some time to decipher that he was inquiring about Pseudotropheus demasoni (dee-mason-eye).
Why dee-mason-eye and not demon-sunny?
Well, first understand that the i at the end of a species name is always a long ipronounced like eye.
Next, understand that species are commonly named for peoplein this case, for Laif DeMason, the well-known fish importer.
Then, its simple to come up with dee-mason-eye the first time you see the word.
(Now, if the fish had been named after Mrs. DeMason, it would be Pseudotropheus demasonae, pronounced dee-mason-ee. If named for a male, the species name gets the i ending; if named for a female, it gets the ae ending, pronounced like ee.)
Knowing these basics, we can refrain from calling a Tropheus duboisi as du-boys-ee, when it should be du-boys-eye. (That is, assuming Mr. DuBois pronounces his name du-boys.) If you want, you can even smirk when you hear someone refer to a lel-oop-ee instead of lel-oop-eye.
Every once in a while one might encounter a species name like ansorgiiwith two is on the end. Not to worry. Just follow the rule and you can correctly pronounce it an-sorg-ee-eye.
Or encounter a name like tenuidentatus or afromastacemelusand you can do what Id do: say Latin is a dead language anyway, and who needs to pronounce it?
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