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There are those who argue that the pronunciation ought to mimic as closely as possible the way the individual in question would have pronounced his or her name.This seems admirably polite, but could cause problems if followed rigorously. The genus was named for a German botanist, Christian Ehrenfried von Weigel, and if we stick to our principles, we would have to say VYE-geh-la instead of wye-JEE-la.To understand the idiosyncratic pronunciation of botanical Latin, we need to go back to the late 6th century, the point when Latin was introduced in Britain.(Or rather reintroduced, for of course Latin had been spoken by the Roman legions that had occupied Britain from the 1st to the early 5th century, and by the Romanized Celts they dominated, but the Anglo-Saxon tribes who ousted the Celts after the Romans departed were ignorant of the language.) This relatinization of Britain was carried out by missionaries sent out from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great, and they spoke and taught a Latin that, which a few minor exceptions, was the same as that spoken by 1st-century Romans.This may be pushing human endurance past its limits, however.
One exception—that concerning words that contain r plus another consonant—has already been mentioned above.
Not surprisingly, it is pronounced as though it were modern Italian.
This is also the pronunciation you’re apt to use if you perform choral music with Latin texts.
This tandem development continued until the mid-19th century, when Victorian scholars attempted for a time to reintroduce the observance of the distinction between long and short vowels.
Then, a few decades later, the reformed pronunciation took hold—except in those professions and disciplines, such as botany, medicine, and law, where Latin words and phrases had long been in continual use, and here the “traditional” English pronunciation stuck.