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As some of us may know, the biologists began giving organisms unique latin scientific names since Carolus Linnaeus. Latin was chosen because it's a "dead" language, which means it stops evolving, and that makes it ideal for such a purpose.

There's no different rules for scientific names' pronunciation, I personally recommend the ecclesiastical method because biological Latin is a kind of Neo-Latin thus applying classical method may sound strange. However, many scholars (especially those of younger age from an English speaking country) insist to use the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation. I don't want to start the argument again, it's up to you. But my opinion is that we should distinguish the two languages in our speeches by the way they sound, never mix them up.

Here are some examples for common-used taxon names:

Taxons names
English Latin Botanical examples Zoological examples
Kingdom Regnum Plantae Animalia
Phylum / Division(Bot.) Phylum / Divisio(Bot.) Spermatophyta Chordata
Subphylum / Subdivision Subphylum / Subdivisio Angiospermae Vertebrata
Class Classis Dicotyledoneae Aves
Order Ordo Ranales, ending: -ales Passeriformes, -iformes
Family Familia Ranunculaceae, -aceae Motacillidae, -idae
Genus (pl. Genera) Genus, -eris, n. Paeonia Motacilla
Species Species Paeonia suffruticosa Motacilla alba
Subspecies Subspecies Paeonia suffruticosa subsp. suffruticosa Motacilla alba leucopsis

In the table above, you can notice some differences between the botanical and zoological names. Eg. The endings for order, family, subfamily and tribe are different. In botany, orders end in suffix -ales, families -aceae, while in zoology they end in -iformes and -idae seperately. Because nomenclature is not the main topic here, I suggest you can visit the codes for botany and zoology for further information.

The problem of People and place names:

Many scientific names are after some individuals or named by place names. In such circumstances, the nomenclature code prescribes that all names must be first Latinized. It's not difficult to do it literally, but it can make the pronunciation controversial, because of the various language origins of those names. Technically speaking, such names should also pronounced as if they were Latin, but sometimes it's very weird for that language's native speaker.

For example, Brassica beijingensis (Bak choi) means Brassica of Beijing. In Chinese, Beijing is read as [peiʤiŋ], when Latinized, it becomes [beijiŋʤensis]. In such cases, some people would prefer to say [peiʤiŋensis].

To read out a Latin description

In botany, it is required to provide a Latin description when an author publishes a new species, genus or any taxons. In zoology, however, it is no longer required. As scientific names, I suggest to pronounce these description texts in the eclesiastical method. Usually there's not much problem, the most difficult part is to translate numbers into Latin, since most authors prefer to write measurements in arabic numerals instead of verbose Latin. To read out numbers right needs acquaintance with Latin numerals and grammar. I'm not going to deal with grammar too much here. Instead, by giving you several examples I hope it will offer you a general idea on how numbers may be said.

Pedicelli filiformes 4-6 mm (read as "quattuor ad sex mm") longi, supra medium bracteolas binas minutas gerentes.

Scapus 8-10 cm (read as "octo ad decem cm") longus, basi vaginatus, undique pilis plus minusve hirsutis, umbellā 1-3 (read as "unum ad tres", notice that unus is declinable, it's in the Accusative case.) flores gerente.

Glumae 4-5 oblongae circ. 2.5-3 mm (read as "duae dimidia ad tres mm", 2.5 is expressed by "two and half") longae; duae imae (2 imae) fertiles, reliquae nunc steriles nunc vacuae.

I can't find rules on how to pronounce decimal numbers. But we can get around by some methods:


Okay, now let's read a longer passage:

Herba perennis. Planta habitu diffuso laxe patenteque ramosa. Radix valida, apice cicatricibus caulorum notata. Caulis erectus, glaber, circ. 60 cm. altus. Folia elliptica, petiolata, 10-15cm lata, utrinque pilosa, margine nunc serrata. Inflorenscentia axillaris. Pedicelli 2.5-3 mm. longi. Bracteae 5 cordatae, circ. 2 mm longae, 1.5 mm latae. Calyx 1.5 mm longus, dentibus triangulato-ovatis, acutis. Corolla circ. 2.5cm diametro, lobis patentibus. Stamina filamentis complanatis, basi dilatatis. Antherae globosae, 1mm longae. Ovarium ellipsoideum, 5-loculare; stylus filiformis; stigma capitatum. Fructus globosus erectus, 3-4 cm diametro. Haec species Polygala tenuifolia affinis, quae differt foliis glabris et floribus rubris.

Nota bene: The above passage is made up by me for pronunciation purpose, the plant doesn't really exist.