How should I pronounce the latin name Sporosarcina pasteurii? According to Pronunciation of Biological Latin : "Latin biological names in English speech are usually pronounced with English letter sounds." But I am not sure what is the letter sound of the eu, ii, and sarcina?

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    Pasteur is pronounced in the closest Anglophone approximation to that great French scientist’s name. I am unfamiliar with IPA, but something like “Past-tyur”. The Latin plural suffix ii is pronounced identically to eye. The sarcina is also straightforward: sar-seen-uh (or -ah). So altogether Spor-o-sar-SEEN-uh Past-TYUR-eye.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 10:35
  • @DanBron Thanks! This sounds correct to me. I think the IPA symbol for the yur-sound is ɜːr? Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 10:59
  • You’re asking the wrong guy! Though I’m sure he Wikipedia article on Pasteur can give you the correct IPA for his name, though perhaps not the correct IPA for how an American (eg) might pronounce it. I’m still not convinced whether I’ve given you the right guidance on the final vowel in sarcina; my instinct is that anyone pronouncing it carefully would use an a sound, but in general discourse it would be uh, but this strongly depends on whether the daily register among biologists has rules for this. But I’ll tell you, e.g., gorilla is pronounced gorill-uh, not -ah.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


The usual English way to pronounce eu in a word from Latin is as "long u" (which in IPA can be any of /juː/, /uː/, /jɜː/, /ɜː/, /jʊ/, /ʊ/, /jə/, /ə/ depending on the context). For example, the first syllable of the word neuter is pronounced the same as the word new—as /njuː/, or /nuː/ in American English. But because Pasteurii is built on a non-Latin name, it is likely to be pronounced with the "nurse" vowel (IPA /ɜː/) instead, which loosely approximates the value of French /œ/. Compare the word Pasteurian/pasteurian, which Merriam-Webster says is pronounced "\ paˈstərēən \" = IPA /pæˈstɜːriən/.

The traditional pronunciation of word-final -ii in a word from Latin is /iaɪ/, but nowadays some people say /ii/ due to influence from the "restored" pronunciation of Latin.

Sarcina should be pronounced with stress on the third-to-last syllable, because the i was short in Latin according to Lewis and Short. If the i were long in Latin, the regular pronunciation in English would put the stress on the second-to-last syllable and give the i the quality of /aɪ/ (as in the word vagina or the place name Carolina). A word ending in -ina that is properly stressed the same way as sarcina is machina in the phrase deus ex machina (the OED indicates stress on the first syllable of machina).

Altogether, I would pronounce Sporosarcina pasteurii as /ˌspɔːroʊˈsɑːrsɪnə pæˈstɜːriaɪ/. The vowel in the second syllable of Sporosarcina could be reduced to /ə/, and in British English, the first syllable might be pronounced with /ɒr/ instead of /ɔːr/. The second syllable of pasteurii might perhaps be pronounced with the "CURE" vowel, as /pæˈstjʊər-/ (or in American English /pæˈstʊr-/ or /pæsˈtʃʊr-/). The last two syllables of pasteurii might be pronounced as /ii/ instead of as /iaɪ/. Of course, in a British English accent, there would be no r consonant after the a in Sporosarcina (/ˌspɔːrəʊˈsɑːsɪnə/ or /ˌspɒrəʊˈsɑːsɪnə/) and in an American English accent this syllable would be pronounced with an r-colored vowel (something like /ˌspɔ˞roʊˈsɑ˞sɪnə/ or /ˌspo˞roʊˈsɑ˞sɪnə/).

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