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How would you go about learning Binomial Latin for Botany?

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

How would you go about learning Binomial Latin for Botany?

Postby eberntson » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:40 am

I know it is a stretch, note avatar, but I am going back to school part-time for Landscape Design. Part of the course work will involve plant material and at a professional level this mean learning to read, pronounce, and memorize plant's Latin names.

So my question is what book would you start with? What approach(s) have you seen work? I am getting a jump on this because many people in the program are from botany backgrounds and have been using the Latin for 5 to 10 years, so I am behind. Besides it has always been intimidating to me. Although I have a smattering of Latin plant names, but nothing extensive.

I have already asked the question on GardenWeb.com and they were helpful. I don't seem to be able to find a Dummies book for learning binomial Latin... huh!?

Thx,

~E
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Postby skinem » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:00 pm

Everyone learns differently.
A hundred years ago when I was learning some of the same things, what worked for me was getting together with a couple of other people learning the same thing and basically quizzing each other using pictures. It helped me to learn the correct names by being able to easily associate a visual image with the auditory name.
And, I've got a weird quirk...if I write something down by hand (it doesn't work for me to type it) a couple of times, I remember it.

Sorry, no advice on a book.
Good luck, and have fun!
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:45 am

Dear eberntson,

A couple of suggestions: Go to the botanical garden and take photos of the plants with their lables in Latin and common names. Write the Latin names on one side of a card. Put both sets face down on the table and play concentration matching the Latin names to the pictures. (I hope you know how to play the standard version of concentration with playing cards where you try to remember the location of say the ace of spades you turn over a few minutes ago so you can match it with the ace of hearts you just turned up).

Again using photos from the bot garden, arrange them in families (all the Rosaceae together) and create a list of their defining characteristics.

Start by learning the Latin names of your favorite plants or the plants around your house and garden.

Cheers,
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Postby skinem » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:33 pm

bnjtokyo
That's what I was talking about! Good ideas and a much better explanation!

Eberntson, let us know how it's going.
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Postby sluggo » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:55 pm

skinem wrote:And, I've got a weird quirk...if I write something down by hand (it doesn't work for me to type it) a couple of times, I remember it.


That's not so weird; a dynamic well-known to anyone who attended Catholic school. Something to do with physical memory I'm sure. It does work, and that's a good suggestion.

E, I wouldn't worry about learning the language, just associate the names over and over and let it sink in (allow the habit). I had to do this for horticulture work a hundred and one years ago, and today in many cases I can't even remember the English names.
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Postby uncronopio » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:53 am

I think that the easiest way is to learn the meanings of the words, particularly of the second part of the name (species), because they tend to be descriptive. Then you can associate the name to the actual appearance of the plant. For example: alba (white), lanceolata (lance shaped leaves), etc.
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