Friday Foolery #14: Pronouncing Hoechst

4 12 2009

Ever had that? You ‘re giving a scientific lecture and you mispronounce one or a few words. Sometimes you know a word is hard to pronounce, but, knowing that, it even gets harder to pronounce the word correctly. For instance, I find it hard to pronounce certain gynecological and dermatological diseases.

Sometimes you don’t know that you mispronounce certain words. Perhaps because you never spoke the words out loud, just read the text. These words need not be very exotic.

Once it was my turn to lead the journal club at the genetics department. Afterwards the Professor, Gert Jan van Ommen, came to me and said: “It was a nice talk, but please never say “mature” in the way you say “nature” again!

Foreign firm names may also be hard to pronounce. The following video from Benchfly illustrates that.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hattip: @nutrigenomics on Twitter (see tweet)

Benchfly is a resource, initiated by the chemist Alan Marnett in 2009, dedicated to providing researchers with current protocols to support their lives both in and out of the lab. For instance by instructive videos.

One such video protocol is “how to send DNA”. Ingenious, but I wonder if it is legally permitted to send it abroad (customs). But who ever tried to send DNA samples styrofoam box hunts via FedEx will welcome this tip. Pity it doesn’t work with cell cultures….

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By the way David Rothman pointed at the pronunciation guide Forvo ( all the words in the world pronounced by native speakers.

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5 responses

5 12 2009
Alan Marnett

Hahaha! You’re probably right- I don’t think I’ll ever bring the “How to mail DNA” video to the attention of customs – or FedEx for that matter… But I’ve used it a bunch to send constructs around the country and it’s so much easier than big box method!

Thanks so much for sharing the videos!

7 12 2009
Helena Vidaurri de la Cruz

Thanks for the very useful videos and links!!

10 12 2009

I know how that feels; I don’t know how to pronounce pedagogics correctly..

14 12 2009

Oh, yes, the joy of giving talks/lectures in a language not your own. I once was called out on ‘pseudo'(something or other), and later on I gave a lecture series on histology that had me hunt down pronunciation guides on the web on the night before each lecture (can you tell I’m a procrastinator?)

I am currently reading books in the public domain to be made into free audiobooks – am doing a chapter from Pliny’s Natural History now, and I’m finding that all these classical names are pronounced very differently in English, too! (how to say ‘Pythagoras’, for instance?)

14 12 2009

@Alan Thank you for making them (and for commenting to this post).
@Helena @You’re welcome!
@Janneke …and presumably you had to use that word a lot (having studied psychology)
@Bianca, I don’t know, but there are an awful lot of difficult words starting with a P here: pedagogics, pseudo-and-something and Pythagoras. Yes, it is funny that classical names are pronounced differently all over the world. Makes you wonder who’s got it right. We can’t ask Pythagoras. 😉

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