[MSA-talk] Mineralanguage

Robert Tracy rtracy at vt.edu
Thu May 1 09:53:06 EDT 2014


That rule makes sense. But I would think that when a mineral name incorporates the proper name of a person, then the correct pronunciation of that person's name should be kept intact. So we should have WOL-las-ton-ite and SIL-li-man-ite. 

Interesting that the Brits get the first one right and the second one wrong, and the Americans the reverse. Likely because of the nationalities of the honorees I assume. Two peoples divided by a common language and all that.

Dr. Robert Tracy
Professor of Geosciences
Associate Department Head
Director, Museum of Geosciences
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg VA 24061-0420
540-231-5980
540-231-3386 (F)




On May 1, 2014, at 9:20 AM, KEN Livi <klivi at jhu.edu> wrote:

> Found a rule to explain this. At the website http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/ten-english-accent-rules/ 
> 
> Rule #8 states: The primary accent is usually on the first syllable in three-syllable words, if that syllable is a root. For example, chár-ac-ter.
> 
> and then…
> 
> Rule #10: The primary accent is usually on the second  syllable in four-syllable words. For example, in-tél-li-gent.
> 
> So when you take a three syllable word and make it four syllables, the accent will change from the first to the second syllable.
> 
> It sounds right to change WOL-las-ton to owl-LAS-ton-ite. But is it right?
> 
> Ken
> 
> On May 1, 2014, at 9:07 AM, KEN Livi wrote:
> 
>> Matt,
>> This brings up one of the roots of a complication in the English language. I work with a MI-cro-scope every day, but I am a mi-CROS-co-pist and do mi-CROS-copy. There is a change in accent when a word is lengthened. I think this is coming into play when we make MIN-er-al names out of Min-er-AL-o-gists' names.
>> Ken
>> 
>> On May 1, 2014, at 4:01 AM, Matthew Kohn wrote:
>> 
>>> I ran across this today, and couldn't remember if I already sent it to the list.
>>> 
>>> Apologies if you've seen this before.
>>> 
>>> Maybe apologies even if you haven't...
>>> 
>>> Best,
>>> 
>>> Matt
>>> 
>>> Mineralanguage.
>>> 
>>> A few years ago, I enjoyed a thorough review from Randy Parrish on the geochronology of monazite. At the end, no one offered any questions, so I semi-facetiously asked him to settle a question that I’ve wondered about since I first learned of the mineral c. 20 years ago: “Randy – is it monazite (MAHN-uh-zite) or monazite (MOHN-uh-zite)?” To which he replied “Well, it’s like potato (puh-TAY-toh) and potato (puh-TAH-toh)…or… baddeleyite (BAD-uh-lee-ite) and baddelyite (buh-DEHL-ee-ite). You know, there was a man named Baddeley (BAD-uh-lee).”
>>> 
>>> Exactly. The mineral baddeleyite was named after a man called Joseph Baddeley (BAD-uh-lee), not some other guy who might have pronounced his name buh-DEHL-ee. Don’t you think that if Joseph knew his name was being mispronounced, he would correct us? I certainly do, because that’s what I do every time someone pronounces my name as if it were spelled Kahn. I pronounce it like “cone,” and, no, I have no connection with Madeline or a French film festival. Similarly, there are minerals named after Benjamin Silliman and William Wollaston. No one would think of pronouncing the names of those venerable gentlemen sill-IH-muhn, or wuh-LAS-tuhn. So why do we pronounce the minerals that way? Is it because the cadence is a little nicer? I admit Wuh-LAS-ton-ITE does trip a little more pleasurably off my tongue than WOOL-uh-stuhn-ITE (the technically correct pronunciation). But no one mispronounces cummingtonite (CUH-ming-tuhn-ITE). Is that only because it sounds like two common English words stuck together? You know: “Are you cummingtonite?” “Why yes, of quartz I am.” I certainly hope that if one of my scientific heroes, Jane Selverstone, ever has a mineral named after her, future mineralogists will pronounce it “SEL-ver-STOHN-ite” and not “sel-VEHR-stuhn-ITE.”
>>> 
>>> Yes, I know there are real regional differences in possible pronunciations, for example EK-lo-gite or EK-lo-jite. I agree those minor and charming differences make mineralogical discourse more interesting, just as different accents embellish our language. But if we know or can figure out how to pronounce the name of the person or place after whom a mineral is named, or the source of the word if it’s not a name, then I think we should try to pronounce the mineral at least approximately correctly.
>>> 
>>> So, is it MAHN-uh-zite or MOHN-uh-zite? Well, it turns out the root is the Greek word μοναζειν (“monazein” meaning “to be alone” because monazite occurs as isolated crystals), or more generally μόνος (“monos” meaning “single”). It’s the same root used in our modern English words "monochromatic," “monastery,” “mononucleosis,” “monocle,” "monocline," etc. And if you’re thinking “Yeah, but what about Mono (Moh-Noh) Lake,” that name derives from a Native American source, not Greek. So, probably the preferred English pronunciation is MAHN-uh-zite. Not that I expect anyone to change. But the next time you’re teaching mineralogy or Earth materials, maybe you’ll think about how pronunciations get passed along to the next generation.
>>> 
>>> 
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>> 
>> |_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|"|_|_|
>> Kenneth JT Livi, PhD
>> Director, The High-Resolution Analytical Electron Microbeam Facility 
>> of the Integrated Imaging Center
>> Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Biology
>> Olin Hall
>> 3400 N Charles Street
>> Johns Hopkins University
>> Baltimore, Maryland 21218 USA
>> |  |  | .|  | .|  | .|  | .|  |  | :|  |  | .|  | .|  | .|  | .|  |  | :|
>> 
> 
> |_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|_|"|_|"|_|"|_|_|
> Kenneth JT Livi, PhD
> Director, The High-Resolution Analytical Electron Microbeam Facility 
> of the Integrated Imaging Center
> Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Biology
> Olin Hall
> 3400 N Charles Street
> Johns Hopkins University
> Baltimore, Maryland 21218 USA
> |  |  | .|  | .|  | .|  | .|  |  | :|  |  | .|  | .|  | .|  | .|  |  | :|
> 
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