Pronunciation of Stegastes leucostictus
August 3, 2012 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Help me pronounce this scientific name: stegastes leucostictus.

I have found various sites on the web about pronunciation of scientific names, so I'm pretty sure I've got it right, I just want to be absolutely sure.

Right now, I am pronouncing it as: steg-ASS-tees loo-co-STICK-tuss.

I will be speaking with an American accent for an American audience, if that changes anything.

Ten points if you can identify the play I'm in.
posted by moonroof to Science & Nature (26 answers total)
What you have is exactly how I would pronounce it.

I took a year of Latin. I'm basically an expert.
posted by phunniemee at 10:34 AM on August 3, 2012

I think phunniemee nailed it. There are always variations in pronunciation of scientific names, but I suspect you've figured it out.
posted by strelitzia at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2012

Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks as always, MeFi.
posted by moonroof at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2012

I would say steg-ASS-tees loo-COS-tick-tuss.

I also took 1 year of Latin, but I'm basically just pulling this out of my ear. Can we get a real classicist?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, okay, I'll reign in my excitement a little bit until we get some more opinions.
posted by moonroof at 10:42 AM on August 3, 2012

According to this, it should be loo-co-STICK-tuss, because the second-to-last vowel is short and not followed by a double letter.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2012

Best answer: I took a year and a half of Latin, so I'm gonna have to pull rank on you folks.
steh-GAH-steez lew-COH-stik-toos
Of course, scientific Latin != classical Latin =! ecclesiastical Latin.

I would think what you initially suggested is totally fine in a scientific/academic setting, as is everyone else's suggestions.

It's a dead language, you're not gonna make it any sicker.
posted by sportbucket at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2012

I'd pronounce it loo-co, since leuco is a prefix.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Depends on your character in the play, but biologists sometimes depart from the classical pronunciation in one way or another. If your character is a biologist, you may want to privilege a biologist's answer on this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2012

Ugh. I said that exactly backwards in my last comment.

Should be lew-COH-stik-toos

are stressed on the next to last syllable IF:

2a) the vowel of that syllable is followed by two or more consonants (making the vowel short).
2b) the vowel is long (or transliterates to a Latin long vowel, for example, Greek eta and omega), including some digraphs.
2c) are stressed on the third to last syllable if 2a and 2b do not apply

posted by ottereroticist at 10:57 AM on August 3, 2012

Latin pronunciations are very regular.

the vowel a is as "blah"
the vowel e is as "men"
the vowel i is as "see"
the vowel o is as "glow"
the vowel u is as "room"

steh-GAH-stees loo-COH-steek-toos
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2012

Response by poster: LobsterMitten: My character is a marine biologist. So if there is a "biologist" pronunciation that differs from this official Latin pronunciation, that would be helpful to know. But it shouldn't be hard to justify either.
posted by moonroof at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2012

Best answer: For the extra points, the play is "Boom".
posted by steveminutillo at 11:08 AM on August 3, 2012

D'oh, you're totally right. For what it's worth, I was pronouncing it this way in my head:
steh-GAH-steez lew-KOH-steek-toos
On preview, I'd expect your biologist to pronounce it more like this:
STEG-uh-steez loo-KOHSS-tikuss
posted by sportbucket at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2012

As a former classical studies major (doubled with music for four years, including seven semesters of college Latin), I'd pronounce it like this:

steh-GAH-steez loo-coe-STICKT-us.

Accent goes on the penultima on the second word.
posted by phoebus at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2012

Best answer: Scientific Latin isn't real Latin anyway -- species names in particular are often just made-up dog-Latin -- and many scientific names aren't spoken enough that they really have well-defined consenses regarding correct pronunciation. People generally just pick up the pronunciation from whoever is around them or else go with what they think sounds right -- the key is to say it with confidence.

That said, your original pronunciation is the one that I would use. I'm a biologist of sorts (well, a biology student) if that helps.
posted by Scientist at 11:13 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

google translate, set to Latin, says it as

STAY gas tis lay oo cos TEAK tooce
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:16 AM on August 3, 2012

To note, Stegastes leucostictus is a binomial names predominantly made up from Greek roots. Binomial names are all nominally Latin, but you can use whatever language you like in them really. As long as you don't seriously screw it up (and your initial suggestion doesn't sound too bad) it should be no worry. Unless a biologist comes in here and says "it is definitely said this way", then don't sweat it. It would be pretty pedantic to pull you up over a binomial name.

Also, what Scientists say. And think of this, one of the most pronounced binomial names in English speech is Homo sapiens, and that has two different pronunciations!
posted by Jehan at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2012

Ack! Don't stress the second syllable in leucostictus!

Blazecock Pileon is absolutely right; "leuco-" means white. ("-stictus" means spotted.)

Your original pronunciation was fine.

(Three years of Latin and a job where I fact-checked Latin plant names over the phone for another three.)
posted by purpleclover at 12:43 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Blazecock Pileon is absolutely right; "leuco-" means white. ("-stictus" means spotted.)

Yes. In immunology, a leucocyte (also spelled leukocyte, from the Greek leukos for "white") is a white blood cell, and the word is pronounced loo-co-sight. If you wanted a scientific-flavored pronunciation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2012

Another biologist (primatologist) chiming in to say I'd pronounce it your way.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:18 PM on August 3, 2012

I am a Classicist! (20+ years of Latin FTW?)

As said above, this is Greek, not Latin, FWIW--well, Latinified Greek, anyway--and it wouldn't matter even if it were Latin roots, because scientific names are not meant to be pronounced as the Romans would've pronounced them.

Your pronunciation seems fine to me.
posted by lysimache at 2:52 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll add my voice to the chorus of biologists (ecologist) who would pronounce it as you do.
posted by pemberkins at 3:04 PM on August 3, 2012

Classics major. I would use the pronunciation you've been using. The rules ottereroticist give are correct but here the consonant cluster between the last two syllables of the second word means that the next to last syllable is treated as long and so should be accented.
posted by rustcellar at 3:41 PM on August 3, 2012

It'll also depend geographically, who your talking to's graduate supervisor was (and how they pronounced it), &c.

I suspect that there's a "correct" way to pronounce anything that has been submitted to an international organization. I know that such things are pronounced differently in practice.

It can be fun to guess who came from which lab or are from which country based on how they pronounce things that aren't actual language words (like restriction enzyme abbreviated designations - EEko R One vs Echo R One, were "R" can sound different, for example if someone pronounces the d in HindIII as "Dee," odds are that they're American, at least from a certain generation or trained by same).
posted by porpoise at 6:00 PM on August 3, 2012

> I would say steg-ASS-tees loo-COS-tick-tuss.

This is wrong; the original poster's pronunciation is fine. The rule is you accent the penult if it's long, and -stict- is long.
posted by languagehat at 8:21 AM on August 4, 2012

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