Sunday, June 8, 2008

You Say Cotoneaster

I was browsing at my neighborhood garden club's plant sale yesterday, and came across a plant that was labeled like this:

In case you can't read that sideways stick, it says "Katoniaster Bush." I wasn't looking at it too carefully, and at first I just ignored it. But when I saw a second plant labeled as such, I realized I had no idea what the plant was.

I must have read the word out loud to myself, and then I made the connection in my head. It was meant to be:


Which is pronounced phonetically: cut - OH - nee - aster.

The pronunciation of plant names is a constant amusement to me. I myself had originally thought that "cotoneaster" was pronounced (quite reasonably, but incorrectly) as the sum of its two parts: cotton - easter. But I was disabused of that notion some time ago, and have been taking its spelling for granted ever since.

So it was fun to be reminded of its absurdity by the creative spelling on view at the plant sale.

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