A Key to the Pronunciation and Meaning of Scientific Names of Popular Species
Part I: Pronunciation

Henry F. Beechhold
College of New Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey USA
From Forum Vol.6, No.4


To avoid using the arcane symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, I've simply respelled the terms using our ordinary alphabet, placing the primary stress (greatest degree of loudness) in capitals. In fact, multi-syllabic English words typically contain primary stress and other degrees of stress (secondary, tertiary, and weak). But since the aim here is to specify acceptable pronunciations and not split phonological hairs, which would serve no useful purpose in this context, I've signaled only the primary.

A general rule of pronunciation for the English pronunciation of five (or more) syllable words of non-Germanic origin (usually Latin and Greek) is to give the primary stress to the antepenult, that is, the next to the next to the last syllable, or the third from the end. This is not only illustrated in the taxonomic names below, but in such "naturalized" English words as possibility (PAH-suh-BIL-uh-tee). Note that there is a secondary stress on the first syllable: PAH-suh-BIL-uh-tee. You must remember, however, that words are rarely pronounced in isolation. Rather, they appear in macrosegments, which are controlled by an intonation pattern that will affect the pronunciation of each word within the segment.

Another pronunciation issue is that of whether to pronounce the conventionally spelled [t] as a [d], as in, say, heterops, where the species term could be pronounced HEH-tuh-rahps or HEH-duh-rahps. Either pronunciation is acceptable, though some nitpickers of the old school might hold that "a [t] is a [t], and if you put a [d] its place, you're being slovenly in your speech." To those I would suggest looking at the standard American dictionary, Webster's New Third International (unabridged), Merriam-Webster. Still, in my dialect of American English, I tend to pronounce [t] as [t] generally, I'll use that pronunciation here.

One last point. A number of specific names are Latinized proper names (e.g., darlingi). Here pronunciation gets tricky, for the question arises of whether names of non-English origin (e.g., steindachneri) should be Anglicized. For the most part, I'll do so - more or less. Hence, STYN-dahk-nuh-ree (not SHTYN-).

Phonetic Key (primary stress = capitals)
a = a of "bay"
ah = a of "bar"
au = ou of "bout"
aw = au of "bought"
aa = a of "bat"
e = e of "bet"
ee = ee of "bee"
y = i of "by"
i = i of "bit"
o = o of "go"
oy = oy of "boy"
oo = oo of "shoo"
u = u of "bull"
uh = u of "but"
ch = ch of "chug"
g = g of "bug"
ng = ng of "long"
j = j of "jug"
sh = sh of "shrug"
th = th of "thing"
dh = th of "then"
y+vowel = y of "you"

Pronunciations (duplicates will not be repeated).

Theraphosidae (ther-uh-FO-suh-dee)
Acanthoscurria (uh-kan-thuh-SKOOR-ee-uh)
 antillensis (an-tuh-LEN-sis)
 musculosa (muhs-kyuw-LO-suh)
 suina (SWEE-nuh)
Aphonopelma (uh-fone-uh-PEL-muh)
 anax (AA-naaks)
 armada (ahr-MA-duh)
 behlei (BA-la-i)
 bicoloratum (by-kuh-luh-RA-tuhm)
 burica (BU-ree-kuh)
 caniceps (KAA-nuh-seps)
 chalcodes (KAAL-kuh-deez)
 crinita (KREE-nuh-tuh)
 duplex (DOO-pleks)
 eutylenum (yoo-tuh-LAY-nuhm)
 hentzi (HENT-see)
 heterops (HEH-tuh-rahps)
 moderatum (mah-duh-RAH-tuhm)
pallidum (PAA-luh-dum)
 rusticum (RUH-stuh-kuhm)
 seemanni (SAY-muh-nee)
 steindachneri (STYN-dahk-nuh-ree)
 vorhiesi (VOR-hee-zee)
Avicularia (uh-vik-yuh-LAH-ree-uh)
 variegata (vaa-ree-uh-GAH-tuh)
 caesia (SEE-zee-uh)
 fasciculata (faa-sik-yuh-LAH-tuh)
 juruensis (joo-roo-EN-sis)
 laeta (LY-tuh)
 metallica (meh-TAA-luh-kuh)
 minatrix (MI-nuh-triks)
 nigrotaeniata (nee-gro-ty-ne-AH-tuh)
 pulchra (PUL-kruh)
 purpurea (purh-PURH-ee-uh)
 urticans (URH-tuh-kaanz)
 versicolor (VUHR-suh-kuh-luhr)
Brachypelma (braa-kee-PEL-muh)
 albopilosum (aal-buh-puh-LO-suhm)
 angustum (ang-GUHS-tuhm)
 auratum (au-RAH-tuhm)
 baumgarteni (BAUM-gahr-tuh-nee)
 boehmi (BAY-mee)
 emilia (uh-MEEL-yuh)
 epicureanum (e-pi-kyuhr-ee-AA-nuhm)
 fossorium (fuh-SAW-ree-uhm)
 klaasi (KLAH-see)
 sabulosum (saa-byoo-LO-suhm)
 smithi (SMITH-ee)
 vagans (VA-gaanz)
Ceratogyrus (suh-rah-tuh-JY-ruhs)
 bechuanicus (bek-WAHN-uh-kuhs)
 brachycephalus (braak-ee-SEF-uh-luhs)
 darlingi (DAHR-ling-ee)
Chaetopelma (kee-to-PEL-muh)
 olivaceum (ah-luh-VA-see-uhm)
 shabati (shuh-BAH-tee)
Chilobrachys (kee-lo-BRAA-kees)
 andersoni (AAN-duhr-suh-nee)
 sericeus (suh-REE-see-uhs)
Chromatopelma (kroh-maa-tuh-PEL-muh)
 cyaneopubescens (sy-aan-ee-o-pyoo-BEH-sinz)
Citharacanthus (kith-uh-ruh-KAAN-thuhs)
 crinirufus (kri-ni-ROO-fuhs)
 longipes (LAWN-juh-peez)
Citharischius (ki-thuh-RI-skee-uhs)
 crawshayi (KRAW-sha-ee)
Coremiocnemis (kuh-ree-mee-ahk-NEE-muhs)
 validus (VAA-luh-duhs)
Crassicrus  (kruh-SEE-kruhs)
 lamanai (luh-MAA-ny)
Cyclosternum (sy-klo-STUHR-nuhm)
 fasciatum (fah-shee-AH-tuhm)
 macropus (muh-KRO-puhs)
Cyrtopholis (suhr-TAH-fuh-luhs)
 portoricae (pawr-TAWR-uh-sy)
Ephebopus (e-FA-buh-puhs)
 fossor (FO-suhr)
 murinus  (muh-REE-nuhs)
Eucratoscelus (yoo-kra-tuh-SKA-luhs)
 longiceps (LAWN-juh-seps)
Eupalaestrus (yoo-puh-LES-truhs)
 weijenberghi (WA-in-bar-gee)
Hapalopus (huh-PAA-luh-puhs)
 incei (IN-see)
Haplopelma (haa-pluh-PEL-muh)
 albostriatum (aal-bo-stry-A-tuhm)
 lividum (LI-vi-duhm)
 minax (MEE-nahks)
Harpactira (hahr-PAAK-tuh-ruh)
 atra (AH-truh)]
Heteroscodra (he-tuh-ruh-SKAH-druh)
 crassipes (kraa-SI-peez)
 maculata (maak-yuh-LAH-tuh)
Heterosthele  (he-tuh-ro-STHA-lee)
 villosella  (vil-uh-SE-luh)
Hysterocrates (hi-stuh-ro-KRA-teez)
 gigas (JEE-guhs)
 hercules (HUHR-kyuh-leez)
 laticeps (LAA-tuh-seps)
 robustus  (ro-BUHS-tuhs)
Iridopelma (ir-i-duh-PEL-muh)
 hirsuta (hurh-SOO-tuh)
 zorodes (zuh-RO-deez)
Ischnocolus (isk-NAH-kuh-lus)
 hancocki (HAAN-kah-kee)
Lampropelma (laam-pruh-PEL-muh)
 violaceopedes (vee-o-luh-see-AH-puh-deez)
Lasiodora (laa-see-uh-DAW-ruh)
 difficilis (dif-uh-SI-lis)
 erthrocithara (uhr-thruh-SI-thuh-ruh)
 klugi (KLOO-gee)
 parahybana (paa-ruh-hy-BAA-nuh)
Megaphobema (meg-uh-FO-buh-muh)
 mesomelas (me-SO-muh-luhs)
 peterklassi (PA-tuhr-kla-see)
 robustum (ruh-BUH-stuhm)
 velvetosoma (vel-vuh-TA-suh-muh)
Metriopelma (me-tree-uh-PEL-muh)
 zebrata (zuh-BRAH-tuh)
Nhandu (NAHN-doo)
 carapoensis (kaa-ruh-po-EN-sis)
Ornithoctonus (awr-nuh-THAK-tuh-nuhs)
Pamphobeteus (pam-fuh-BEE-tee-uhs)
 antinous (aan-TY-nuhs)
 fortis (FAWR-tuhs)
 insignis (in-SIG-nuhs)
 nigricolor (NY-gruh-kuh-luhr)
 ornatus (awr-NAH-tuhs)
 vespertinus  (ves-puhr-TEE-nuhs)
Paraphysa (paa-ruh-FY-suh)
 manicata (mah-nuh-KAH-tuh)
 scrofa (SKRO-fuh)
Phoneyusa (fo-nuh-YOO-suh)
Phormictopus (fawr-mik-TO-puhs)
 cancerides (kahn-SE-ruh-deez)
 cubensis (kyoo-BEN-sis)
 nesiotes (ne-see-O-teez)
Phrixotrichus (frik-suh-TRI-kuhs)
 actaeon (AK-tee-ahn)
 alticeps (AHL-tuh-seps)
 burzaquensis (boor-zuh-KEN-sis)
cala (KAH-luh)
 grossa (GRO-suh)
 iheringi (ee-HE-ring-ee)
 mollicoma (mah-LI-kuh-muh)
 spatulata (spah-chuh-LAH-tuh)
Plesiopelma (ple-see-uh-PEL-muh)
 longisternale (lawn-juh-STER-nuh-lee)
Poecilotheria (pee-suh-luh-THI-ree-uh)
 formosa (fawr-MO-suh)
 miranda (mi-RAAN-duh)
 ornata (awr-NAH-tuh)
 regalis (ra-GAH-luhs)
 rufilata (roo-fee-LAH-tuh)
 striata (stree-AH-tuh)
 subfusca (suhb-FUS-kuh)
Psalmopoeus (sal-muh-PEE-uhs)
 cambridgei (KAM-bri-jee)
 irminia (urh-MI-nee-uh)
 reduncus (ri-DUNG-kuhs)
Pseudotheraphosa (soo-do-the-ruh-FO-suh)
 apophysis (ah-PAH-fuh-suhs)
Pterinochilus (te-ruh-nuh-KY-luhs)
 affinis (uh-FEE-nuhs)
 constrictus (kuhn-STRIK-tuhs)
 hindei (HIN-duh-ee)
 meridionalis (muh-ri-dee-uh-NAH-luhs)
 sjoestedti (SHO-ste-tee)
 spinifer (SPI-nuh-fuhr)
 vorax  (VAW-raaks)
 widemanni (WEE-duh-mah-nee)
Selenocosmia (se-luh-nuh-KAHZ-mee-uh)
 honesta (ah-NES-tuh)
 javanensis (jah-vuh-NEN-sis)
 sumatrana (soo-mah-TRAH-nuh)
 lanipes (LAH-nuh-peez)
 lyra (LEE-ruh, LY-ruh)
 stirlingi (STURH-ling-ee)
 strubelli  (stroo-BEL-ee)
Sericopelma (se-ruh-kuh-PEL-muh)
 generala (je-nuh-RAH-luh)
 immensa (ee-MEN-suh)
 melanotarsum (mel-uh-no-TAHR-suhm)
Sphaerobothria  (sfir-uh-BAHTH-ree-uh)
 hoffmanni  (HAHF-muh-nee)
Stromatopelma (stro-maa-tuh-PEL-muh)
 calceatum (kaal-see-AH-tuhm)
 griseipes (gree-SEE-uh-peez)
Tapinauchenius (taa-puh-nau-KEE-nee-uhs)
 plumipes (PLOO-muh-peez)
Theraphosa (the-ruh-FO-suh)
 blondi (BLAHN-dee)
Vitalius (vee-TAH-lee-uhs)
 cesteri (se-STE-ree)
 platyomma (plaa-tee-O-muh)
 roseus (RO-zee-uhs)
 sorocabae (suh-RO-kuh-by)
Xenesthis (ze-NES-this)
 imanis (ee-MAH-nis)
 monstrosa (mahn-STRO-suh)

Scorpiones (skawr-pee-O-neez)
Androctonus (aan-DRAK-tuh-nuhs)
 australis (au-STRAA-luhs)
Buthus (BYOO-thuhs)
 occitanus (ahk-suh-TAH-nuhs)
Centruroides (sen-troo-ROY-deez)
 exilicauda  (ek-sil-uh-KAU-duh)
 gracilis (GRAA-suh-lis)
 testaceus (tes-TA-shuhs)
Hottentotta (hah-tuhn-TAH-tuh)
 judaica (joo-DA-I-kuh)
Isometrus (y-suh-ME-truhs)
 maculatus (maak-yuh-LAH-tuhs)
Leiurus (la-YOOR-uhs)
 quinquestriatus (kwin-kwes-tree-AH-tuhs)
Diplocentrus (di-pluh-SEN-truhs)
Hadogenes (huh-DAH-juh-neez)
Liocheles (lee-AH-kuk-leez)
 australasiae (au-struh-LAHZ-ee-y)
Opisthacanthus (ah-puhs-ahk-KAAN-thuhs)
 asper (AS-puhr)
Anuroctonus (ah-noor-AHK-tuh-nuhs)
 phaiodactylus (fy-uh-DAAK-ti-luhs)
Hadrurus (hah-DROOR-uhs)
 arizonensis (aa-ruh-zo-NEN-sis)
 pallidus (PAA-li-duhs)
 spadix (SPAH-diks)
Heterometrus (he-te-ruh-ME-truhs)
 longimanus (lawng-juh-MAH-nuhs)
Pandinus (pan-DEE-nuhs)
 cavimanus (kaa-vuh-MAH-nuhs)
 imperator (im-puh-RAH-tawr)
Scorpio (SKAWR-pee-o)
 maurus (MOW-ruhs)
Paruroctenus (pah-roo-RAK-tuh-nuhs)
 becki (BE-kee)
 boreus (BAW-ree-uhs)
 gracilior (graa-SIL-ee-awr)
 luteolus (loo-tee-O-luhs)
 masaensis (ma-suh-EN-sis)
 silvestrii (sil-VES-tree-ee)
 utahensis (yoo-tah-EN-sis)
Serradigitus (ser-uh-DIJ-uh-tuhs)
Vaejovis (vy-JO-vuhs)
 coahuilae (ko-uh-HWIL-y)
 confusus (kuhn-FYOO-suhs)
Uroctonus (uh-RAHK-tuh-nuhs)
 mordax (MAWR-daaks)
Uropygi (yoor-uh-PI-jee)
Mastigoproctus (mas-tuh-go-PRAHK-tuhs)
 giganteus (jy-GAAN-tee-uhs)

Dr. Beechhold is an English professor at College of New Jersey in Trenton, New Jersey. Part II will appear in the next Forum where he explains what the words mean (at least, what they were supposed to mean; many taxonomists probably made more than a few mistakes when describing the species). 


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