My friend and co-author Stewart Clark has drawn my attention to this BBC blog, which discusses the ‘correct’ pronunciation of the dinosaur’s name. Apparently the Natural History Museum, which is moving its model, stresses the third syllable: /ËŒdÉªplÉ™ÊŠËˆdÉ’kÉ™s/ on the grounds that the word is derived from the two Greek words “diplos” (Î´Î¹Ï€Î»ÏŒÎ¿Ï‚) and “dokos” (Î´Î¿ÎºÏŒÏ‚). This is no doubt true from an etymological angle, but in the 19th century, when the word was coined, all scholars of whatever subject would have been thoroughly trained in Greek, and would have known that this is not a sufficient reason for choosing where to place the stress. After all, humans are omnivorous, a word derived from ‘omni’ (all) and ‘vorous’ (eating) to show that we eat both plant and animal food, but we do not say */ËŒÉ’mnÉªËˆvÉ”ËrÉ™s/. The traditional rule is that if the penultimate syllable of a Greek or Latin word contains a short vowel, then the stress is thrown back to the antepenultimate syllable. It is only the linguistic ignorance even of otherwise eminent scholars in the modern world which can lead to this discussion. When scholars first described this creature, there would have been no doubt whatsoever about its pronunciation: /dÉªËˆplÉ’dÉ™kÉ™s/, as the BBC’s own Pronunciation Unit recommends.
For anyone unfamiliar with IPA who may come across this, the traditional pronunciation and BBC recommendation is ‘diPLODokuss’.