Botanical Latin with Ross Bayton


What an undertaking encyclopedia more than two thousand plants. Five thousand entries or terms and hundreds of beautiful botanical. It was quite a work came to me and said well. We have room for about five thousand words. Which ones are? You'RE GONNA choose while it was quite an option. There are millions of clients out there so I had to kind of winnow it. Down to the the cream of the crop. Well I've been enjoying it As I said in the introduction you dipping back in and really smiling to have sort of the provenance of the definition so to speak of many of my favorite plants revealed but before we get to that I just wanted to Know a little bit about like why this is not new territory for you've written other things about plant genealogy so to speak. Why is this important to you? Where did you get into this in your life? Well I started gardening as a kid I had a poll of English. Iv that I grew in my room My parents were in the military and we traveled around a lot so I didn't have a garden but I grew a lot of house. Plants and I started by dipping into book that my mom had go reader's digest. It was an encyclopedia of. Houseplants HAS NAMES THERE. And some beautiful illustrations and the words just seem to stick in my mind in a way. The other things don't tend to forget people's names really really good at remembering of names I once. I started to see similarities between one name and another started to be curious about. Won't connections were my mom's a big fan of sweet peas and they are Lazarus Buddha Ross's yes and I realized meant fragrant and I saw that word in other plant names in my garden right spring. But it all the DOTS connecting. Yeah Yeah so okay so for gardeners listening. So why Latin any way and is it truly even Latin or is there some Greek in here? You know what what tell us a little bit about? Why Botanical Latin kind of like Wyatt evolved why it was invented quote unquote. You know a little history. What we call botanical lasted would not be understood by people living in ancient Rome last night. basically what happened is is in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries scholars at universities. They taught entirely in Latin Understanding learning this language was thought to provide agility of mind for the students but also A lot of universities were connected to the church and many churches also Gave that the the Bible was written in Latin and many of their Liturgies were also given in that language so it was very common for scholars to understand that This particular language and for it seemed a natural thing when they started to name plans to use a lot and that they were already using their day to day Scholarly Endeavour right so and then along came. Lineas yes eventually yes then. The names was a Swedish botanist Manassas. Actually his last name. His Swedish name was funding and like many of the scholars of his time on heat he taught Latin and he had a broad interest in science. He was trying to the medical dogs up but he received plants and animals that were brought to him by sailors by travelers and he was really fascinated to try and classify them. I'm so he would give them names in Latin but the really important thing that he did was he gave them a two part name now before. Luna's every all the names that were given to plants and animals. We're actually loan descriptions of those plants animals in lasted. That's pretty cumbersome. When you're dealing with a plant you don't want to name as eight or ten words in it What the did was he. Shorts these down to two words and we now call those toured names the dated by bills and the names that you find in the book right. You mentioned sailors a minute ago. And so this was the early Eighteenth Century. Onward was sort of the age of plant exploration. Yeah people are bringing. It wasn't just Europe where he was it was people were bringing things in from other places and there were unknown thing so different people would be communicating with people in other countries. And I guess didn't I think in the book One of the essays up front says something like one. Great Advantage of Latin is its universality that It's not the language of any one nation. Was that also part of the motivation. Absolutely nobody really speak Latin and so the language that can be used by people in in any country but some last had an advantage in the east started his work in Sweden and Sweden doesn't really have an awful big flora. It doesn't have very many different species of plants. If lemass it'd been born in Central Africa or in South America where plants were much more common much more diverse. It's entirely possible. That just would have been so confused by this great diversity. That Egos have never come up with the system that he did because he only had to work. On a small group of plants he was able to develop a system and then refined as people brought plants to in from other parts of the world so he's began in Europe but this Checks on me that he began quickly began to spread across the world as Europeans and others were exploring further afield and since it wasn't the language anyone nation. It was kind of a shared language for all of these people. There'd be excluded. Yeah yeah it didn't belong to one person so everybody could use it and today they still do If you read a botanical papers from China almost the only part that you'll be able to read if you're an english-speaking lot me is Latin names right so we were mentioned you know plants The system for naming plants and of course it was for other organisms as well and I read an essay. You wrote recently. Or maybe it's excerpted from the book Where you muse about Latin name Homo Sapiens and And how it doesn't sound very fancy compared to some of the plant names that are more elaborate but until you understand what it translates as Which is wise man? Yeah so we gave ourselves Ed very good name. Yeah we were quite modest. Fabian is the name that was given by lineas fact. Lunacies body actually remains the type specimen for the human species because when when he named humanity based on himself he will forever be remembered as the original human. These Wet Tax on consent. So he's not pressed in herbarium slide but he is the type specimen yeah. It's the todd specimen in his tomb in Sweden. So I was early on. I was when I was first. Learning from much. More scholarly individuals plant friends I was paralyzed. Know afraid to say the words out loud because they looked so difficult and I was told. Don't worry Margaret. It wasn't a spoken language. Really it was okay. Just have at it and try to pronounce stuff and and do my best which is always going to be better than a common name. So does pronunciation matter you give guidelines. I think you sort of let us off the hook and say don't worry also. Is that correct? You're absolutely correct Margaret. I always tell people all to worry about it There are purists who might adults two pronunciations for certain parts of botanical Latin. But my feeling is that I would rather people were using the names and understanding them and speaking to some rigid system appreciation You say Clemson said commodities I I think you're easily understood. Whatever the way and as I began doing this as a kid I would say names also different ways so one of the ones I used to mispronounce was the daily Jazz Amaral Kalisz then when I grew up and started speaking to people about it. I realize that everybody actually called a hammer accounts. Yes it's a subtle difference and most people understood what I was saying until I started speaking with other people. I didn't realize that there were other ways that you might say but in truth it doesn't really matter and most people will understand what you're

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