Regarding the Feb. 2 Health & Science article “Insect has quashed attempts to erase it from hemisphere”:
In the management world, there is a problem called stovepiping, in which the various functions being managed independently develop their own, sometimes mutually contradictory ways of doing things. In science writing, the same thing happens. Which sort of expert provided the pronunciation of “Aedes aegypti” in this article? I’ll bet it was a scientist and not a linguist.
Granted, there is no standardized way of pronouncing the Latin and Latinized Greek words used in the sciences, but the pronunciation given in the article, “AYE-dees uh-GYP-tie,” was unpleasant on several levels. To begin with, English dictionaries generally treat “Aedes” as a three-syllable word, and they sometimes print it with a dieresis (“aëdes”) to indicate that. That’s not the only problem with the pronunciation given: Why is the initial “ae” pronounced “aye” and the “ae” in “aegypti” pronounced “uh”? And why, in this age of globalization, when so many of us speak other languages — and understand that thanks to the great English vowel shift the vowels of English are pronounced unlike those of any other language that uses the Roman alphabet — is the final “i” given the sound “eye” and not “ee”? In short, pronounce it like so: “ah-A-days eye-GYP-tee.”
By the way, the Latinized Classical Greek word “aëdes” sums all of this up nicely: It means “unpleasant” or “nauseating.”
James A. McKenney, Rockville