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(You may well say this doesn't fit into an "English language" site, but the scientific Latin terms could be said to be part of English.)

My young daughter loves snails; I would like her to learn the scientific name for the common garden snail, or Grove Snail: Cepaea nemoralis, but how do I pronounce the word Cepaea?

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closed as general reference by JSBձոգչ, kiamlaluno, MετάEd, Jim, Kris Oct 20 '12 at 9:07

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
This seems like a very localized question. Perhaps you could rephrase it to ask about Latin pronunciations in general? (Since Latin names for species are still used by English-speaking scientists, I think there's room for the topic on ELU. But asking about one particular Latin word may be too narrow a scope.) –  J.R. Oct 18 '12 at 16:28
    
@J.R. Actually, it isn't too localized when you realize that what it is actually asking is how Latin has been traditionally pronounced in English. –  tchrist Oct 18 '12 at 17:17
    
@tchrist: Yes, I think that's what I was trying to say, too. –  J.R. Oct 18 '12 at 18:24
    
In Goodbye to All That Robert Graves remarks that he went to (I think) four different schools and learned four different systems for pronouncing Latin. I myself learned one system when I took Latin in the US (1960-2), another when I was in an Austrian school (1963), and yet another when I attended (US) Catholic churches in the 1970s. –  StoneyB Oct 18 '12 at 21:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The normal English pronunciation of Cepaea, believe it or not, would be /səˈpiː(j)ə/. Some speakers would use an /aɪ/ dipthong there for ae instead of /iː/

English pronunciation of Latin (and Greek) has an extremely long and complex history. So words like Linum (the genus of the common flax plant) end up coming out as /ˈlaɪnəm/ not as /ˈlinum/. Yes, I know this is strange, but if you don't do it this way, it messes up our poetry, where this pronunciation is expected.

You can, and probably should, read the Wikipedia article on the Traditional English pronunciation of Latin.

That means that Caesar is /ˈsiːzəɹ/ not /ˈkaɪsaɾ/, while things like Menelaus come out as /ˌmɛnɪˈleɪəs/. Strange but true.

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There are differing views on how Latin should be pronounced, but the convention I’m familiar with would have it as Ke-pea-ya nem-or-ah-lis.

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1  
Alas, biologists never seem to have studied Classical Latin. I blame Linnaeus. –  Mark Beadles Oct 18 '12 at 16:44
    
Here in Italy I think the pronunciation would be slightly different (che-pea-ya instead of ke-pea-ya). It's a long lasting debate about how to pronounce the initial "ce/ci", but that's the way I was taught and which still holds with many teachers. –  Paola Oct 18 '12 at 16:49

Biological Latin mainly follows Church Latin pronunciation, rather than Classical Latin.

Details on both here.

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For Cepaea nemoralis, this would yield /sɪˈpeɪ.a ˌnɛ.mɔˈrɑ.lɪs/, or more likely /sɪˈpeɪ.ə ˌnɛ.məˈrɑ.lɪs/ in general use. –  Mark Beadles Oct 18 '12 at 16:53
    
/sɪˈpeɪ.a/ is not (Roman Catholic) Church Latin, but what I call schoolboy Latin –  Henry Oct 18 '12 at 17:34

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