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Inclusa
2015-May-10, 02:54 AM
While scientific names are used across cultures and ease confusions by local or common names, they are often thought of difficult.
(OK, I'm somewhat "gifted" in remembering scientific names, but this isn't really that useful.)
I guess the most known scientific name is Homo sapiens sapiens.

Hornblower
2015-May-10, 03:18 AM
How about Tyrannosaurus rex for starters?

DonM435
2015-May-10, 03:36 AM
I was once told that "T. rex" and "E. coli" (in exactly that form) were the only genus-abbreviation + species names that were well-known to the general public.

Quite a paring, the biggest carnivore and the microscopic bacterium.

Noclevername
2015-May-10, 04:19 AM
Albert Einstein.

Or is that not the kind of scientific name you meant?

malaidas
2015-May-10, 08:16 AM
Sodium chloride is quite well known.

The OP didn't say it had to Refer to living things.

grant hutchison
2015-May-10, 11:08 AM
I was once told that "T. rex" and "E. coli" (in exactly that form) were the only genus-abbreviation + species names that were well-known to the general public.

Quite a paring, the biggest carnivore and the microscopic bacterium.Certainly in the UK, we could add the intestinal pathogen C. Difficile, which has caused a number of lethal outbreaks in UK hospitals. It's often further abbreviated to "C. Diff.", which is at least better than the fashion among newsreaders to pronounce the species designator as if it were French ("C. Dee-fee-seel") rather than Latin ("C. Diff-ICK-uh-lay").

On a related note, in the early days of the current Ebola outbreak, I often heard it pronounced as if it were "E. bola", presumably by misunderstood analogy with E. coli.

Grant Hutchison

KaiYeves
2015-May-10, 03:38 PM
Relatedly, I would say the most commonly known chemical formula is H2​O-- when a scientific formula can be used as the title of a fantasy show without explanation, you know it's well-known to the public: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/H20_just_add_water

swampyankee
2015-May-10, 10:44 PM
Leaving the world of bacteria, a number of garden plants are known by genus names. Since I'm not a gardener, I probably can't rattle off more than Wisteria.

And if somebody pronounces C. difficile as "C. Diff-ICK-uh-lay," hardly anybody except Latin scholars would know what they're talking about. All the newsreaders are using the pronunciation used by every medical professional I've ever met in the US (Northeastern US; mostly those who have had their residencies at Yale)

Jens
2015-May-11, 07:10 AM
I was once told that "T. rex" and "E. coli" (in exactly that form) were the only genus-abbreviation + species names that were well-known to the general public.


I also wondered whether the OP meant "best known around the world" or "best known to native English speakers". I think that among Japanese, for example, "T. rex" is very well known, but they don't use the "rex" part so maybe that doesn't count. They just call it a "tyrannosaurus." But nobody knows E. coli because they use a different word for it (大腸菌). H. sapiens would be up there though.

grant hutchison
2015-May-11, 10:06 AM
And if somebody pronounces C. difficile as "C. Diff-ICK-uh-lay," hardly anybody except Latin scholars would know what they're talking about. All the newsreaders are using the pronunciation used by every medical professional I've ever met in the US (Northeastern US; mostly those who have had their residencies at Yale)Interesting. I'd have expected US medical Latin to go for "diff-ISS-uh-lay" rather than "di-fi-seel". There's a divide in medical Latin between the UK and the USA, with the UK sticking closer to Classical Latin in its handling of "c". So in the UK we pronounce cephalic as "kef-AL-ik", whereas I hear "sef-AL-ic" from US medics. Also, I get the impression that fewer Americans are exposed to French in high school, so I might have expected the French pronunciation to be less attractive.
Anyway, it's "diff-ICK-uh-lay" for UK doctors, and pronouncing it as if it were French is therefore considered something of a rookie error - it suggests both that you've learned your bacteriology from the TV, and that you haven't noticed that binomial nomenclature uses Latin grammatical forms by convention (making the French pronunciation extremely unlikely).

Grant Hutchison

DaveC426913
2015-May-11, 03:37 PM
Many of these names such as T.Rex and Homo Sapiens are certainly household terms in the first world, but considering how much of the planet's population is second world (China is home to a third of the planet's population) or even third world (India is home to another third of the population of the planet), and those whose daily struggles for survival involve access to drinkable water, I'll bet, in sheer terms of widespread awareness, E. coli outpaces all other terms by quite a wide margin.

Jens
2015-May-11, 03:46 PM
Many of these names such as T.Rex and Homo Sapiens are certainly household terms in the first world, but considering how much of the planet's population is second world (China is home to a third of the planet's population) or even third world (India is home to another third of the population of the planet), and those whose daily struggles for survival involve access to drinkable water, I'll bet, in sheer terms of widespread awareness, E. coli outpaces all other terms by quite a wide margin.

No, because as I wrote earlier, they don't necessarily use the scientific terms for those terms.

DaveC426913
2015-May-11, 06:03 PM
No, because as I wrote earlier, they don't necessarily use the scientific terms for those terms.
While that may be true, it applies to all the other items as well.

If 80% of a half billion people call T.Rex by its scientific name,
while only 10% of people call E.Coli by its scientific name - well, if that 10% is a fraction of 5 billion people - it still wins.

Jens
2015-May-13, 08:57 AM
If 80% of a half billion people call T.Rex by its scientific name,
while only 10% of people call E.Coli by its scientific name - well, if that 10% is a fraction of 5 billion people - it still wins.

I guess I should have added a bit more to my previous response. Just because people in some areas of the world face threats from diseases, I don't think that necessarily means that they talk about them using their scientific names. There are lots of things that I know and am concerned about, for example influenza or food poisoning, where I have no idea what the scientific name is. For example, people in China are probably aware of E. coli (because people in Japan are as well), but it's just that they don't use the scientific term for it, they call it something else. Like for example, I might use "the AIDS virus."

eburacum45
2015-May-18, 07:01 PM
I've noticed that UK doctors pronounce cephalic as 'kef-AL-ik', and I was impressed. My old latin teacher was a stickler for the hard 'c', but that was a long time ago. How do you say Pachycephalosaurus?

grant hutchison
2015-May-18, 08:34 PM
I've noticed that UK doctors pronounce cephalic as 'kef-AL-ik', and I was impressed. My old latin teacher was a stickler for the hard 'c', but that was a long time ago.It's an in-group/out-group thing. Medical terminology got into English directly through Latin and Greek, which were the international scientific languages back in the day. Whereas general English acquired a lot of its Latinate vocabulary via French, which had soften all those c's. So the Oxford English Dictionary allows only "sef-AL-ik", and tracks the etymology through the French.
So UK doctors still learn the Classical pronunciations for a lot of anatomical and physiological terms. Having spent more than two-thirds of my life speaking medical Latin, I find it difficult to pronounce words like "cephalopod" with anything other than a hard c. There's also the strange matter of the Greek χ, which I learned to pronounce as a fricative, as at the end of "loch".


How do you say Pachycephalosaurus?"Pachy-" and "cephalo-" are such common medical terms, I'd need to think very carefully before I could say that as anything other than "pach [with a fricative ch] ay-KEF-ah-lo-SORR-us"

Grant Hutchison