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#26315 - 04/09/01 02:13 AM When did pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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As a novice paleontologist/archaeologist I've been familiar with "Neanderthal" since I was a small boy, pronounced and spelled with the soft 'th'. Neanderthal being, to those of you who may be unfamiliar, a species of prehistoric 'man' who most paleontologists and anthropologists believe became extinct due to a lack of an ability to compete
with the more well-adapted homo sapien, Cro-Magnon Man. I also studied German and am well-aware of the literal German pronunication of the 'th' as a hard 't'. But, until the past few years, to my knowledge the soft 'th' was ALWAYS the accepted tenet. Then, suddenly, the adopted pronunciation has changed to the hard 't', and the spelling in many quarters has dropped the 'h' altogether. In fact, a recent cover story in no less an authority than Archaeology Magazine (Fall 2000, I believe) used the "no-h" spelling. And the recent special on Discovery, "Neandethal," fully adopted the new "hard-t" pronunciation, but included the "h" in the spelling! I'm mystified as to when and why this change transpired and who deemed it so...does anybody have the answer? I'd love to know! (Or is this just, perhaps, some sudden mass confusion?...or war of preference?) Hard as I try I just can't get used to the new one, and so I've decided to be stubborn and stick with the old...I like it better, anyway! I'm really hoping one of you can clear this up for me!



#26316 - 04/09/01 06:40 AM Re: When did pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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Try: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/spelling.html

National Geographic acknowledged the change either last year or the year before when they did an article on the valley in France where all the cave paintings have been found. Sorry, can't remember and can't reference the particular issue.



The idiot also known as Capfka ...
#26317 - 04/09/01 03:24 PM Re: When did pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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NicholasW Offline
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Excellent reference. I'd wondered about that.

I find I'm tending to make a distinction between Neandert(h)al pronounced -taal, the ancient humanoid, and neanderthal, adj., -thl, pertaining to modern humanoids who behave in ways I disapprove of.


#26318 - 04/09/01 08:46 PM Re: pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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I've been familiar with "Neanderthal" since I was a small boy, pronounced and spelled with the soft 'th'....I've decided to be stubborn and stick with the old...

I'm right beside you Whitman!
And if someone is so sassy as to tell me "It's pronounced Neandertal"
I shall wither them with a glance!
(It's a talent all High Priestesses must master.)
Aloha,
wow
ps : The mighty Enigma corrects Neandertal to Neanderthal. Vindication!


#26319 - 04/09/01 09:42 PM Re: pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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Thanks for the great feedback so far, folks! Capital Kiwi, your National Geographic reference panned-out. I searched the site and found this posting explaining the 'Why': ..."more than 40 people wrote to comment on the spelling of the word "Neadertal" [their spelling!] on the January 1996 cover of National Geographic magazine. We pointed out that in German the word means Neander Valley--the place where the first Neanderthal was discovered in 1856. This century the Germans dropped the "h" in their word for valley [thal/tal] , thus shortening the "Neanderthal" of yesterday." WAIT A MINUTE! According to who (or whom)? I will continue to research for that answer and also the 'When' of it! Because I find that explanation a bit annoying. First of all, that is a SCIENTIFIC NAME! To my knowledge, scientific names, once bestowed, are immutable! That's why they exist, to provide their own original nomenclature for reference. I mean, if the Greek language decided to change the "y" in tyrannos to an "i" would we suddenly start spelling Tyrannosaurus "Tirannosaurus'?...I don't think so! And Neandethal is listed in every good dictionary I've perused with the "H" spelling, and the hard 't' proper-German pronunciation as a second option. Indeed, the German language has dropped the "H" from "thal," but according to my old college German textbook this happened at least as far back as 1970...so 25 years later somebody has a brainstorm to amend the spelling? I found a site, "Neanderthal Heaven," with postings from scientists from as late as last year with no hints or reference to a name change whatsoever. And only one recent site listed used the "H"-less spelling! I also found an "Ask the Experts" page at the Scientific American site where, as a last recourse, I can E-mail a query to the last two parts of this question. But, all in all, I'm holdin' out for "NeandertHal!" And thanks, 'wow,' for your enthusiastic support in joining me on this! When the "Keep the "H" in Neanderthal!" T-shirts are ready, I'll let ya know! I'll report back with the results of my continued investigation (unless, of course, somebody else checks in with the answers first). They changed my "Brontosaurus" to "Apatosaurus"...they're NOT going to get away with this one!


#26320 - 04/09/01 10:02 PM Re: pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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Whitman - you definitely merit the "stranger" appellation under your name, but I applaud your resolve. I, too, mourn the lost brontosaurus - my son will never understand the appeal of ordering a brontosaurus burger, a lá Fred Flintstone.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors regarding the modernization of the poor Neanderthal - what will they do next, take out the n's? Imagine it - reading of the evolutionary backwater once occupied by the benighted eadertal, poor sod.

And while you're at it - can you do something about continental drift? I mean, I like the other continents and all, but I don't think I need them any closer to me. Living in earthquake-prone California, this is an issue that may have even more immediate implications in my life than the pronunciation and orthography of Neanderthal.

Oh, and welcome to the board.


#26321 - 04/09/01 10:26 PM Re: pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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I mean, I like the other continents and all, but I don't think I need them any closer to me.

Ah, but just think how much more bigger California's beaches will be when all three Californias are an island!


#26322 - 04/10/01 03:21 AM Re: pronunciation /sp. of Neanderthal change?  
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WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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By the way, the full scientific name is " Homo Sapiens Neaderthalensis"...I meant to include that in my last post.


#26323 - 04/10/01 03:49 AM Continental Drift  
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Forgive me, Hyla....it's not my fault.


#26324 - 04/10/01 06:59 AM Scientific names  
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NicholasW Offline
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To my knowledge, scientific names, once bestowed, are immutable!

True, but this does not support your position. It's true that the original spelling Homo sapiens neanderthalensis won't be changed. This comes under the rule of immutable names. But (i) Neanderthal Man isn't a scientific name in that sense (a taxonomic name), protected by international convention; and (ii) the immutability applies only to that subspecies. If a reclassification occurs in the light of new knowledge, and it's decides that what was formerly called this now deserves to be a species in its own right, the new species gets a name of its own: as we have recently seen Homo heidelbergensis, H. antecessor and so on; this could be H. neandertalensis, H. neumannii, or whatever. It would be a new name.

They changed my "Brontosaurus" to "Apatosaurus"...

No they didn't. Scientific names are immutable. The Apatosaurus was described and named. Some years later a specimen was found that was described and named Brontosaurus; unfortunately it later turned out to be the same kind of animal as the existing Apatosaurus. So the old name has priority. The new name Brontosaurus caught on, but is invalid.


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