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Bringing this over here from my twitter feed and expanding it a little.

It all started when I realized that British English pronounces forsythia /fɔːˈsaɪθiə/ - like scythe in the middle. My own pronunciation was a mix of the British and the American version: /fərˈsɪθiə/ - the Star Wars Sith pronunciation I'd like to call it. What's your pronunciation like? I don't know whether I came up with my version of my own or whether I heard it in NZ or GB?

The German pronunciation of Forsythie - nearly the same word except for the last letter - is very different though: Phonetically we would spell it Forsützie, the more or less IPA version, taken from a German online dictionary is this: [fɔrˈzy:tsi̯ə] - a world away from the British version!


But then I thought of Fuchsie and fuchsia - same last letter difference again, also a very different pronunciation: German call it [ˈfʊksi̯ə], English-speaking folks say /ˈfjuːʃə/ - and as to spelling it, there is the tendency to turn it into fuschia.

So, we have a Scottish botanist William Forsyth and a flower named after him and a German botanist Leonhart Fuchs and a flower named after him. Naturally, we ignore the native pronunciation of the name and come up with our own. Which I am totally fine with, but it is a little confusing.

With Dahlie and dahlia, named after a Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, the German and American pronunciation are fairly close on the sound of the a (let's ignore the l and the fact that the IPA letters are the same, but the pronunciation isn't):
Dahlie = [ˈda:li̯ə]
dahlia = BrE /ˈdeɪliə/ AmE /ˈdɑːliə/
The Swedish pronunciation of the a is probably different again!

As to other flowers named after people, there is Poinsettia - which was the trigger for all this because of this language log post about its pronunciation and Bougainvillea.

Poinsettias are Weihnachtssterne in English, literally Christmas stars, which is the easy way out as far as mangling the name goes. Bougainvillea are named after a French general and explorer and here the German [buɡɛ̃ˈvilea]  is a little closer to the French version than the English /ˌbuːɡənˈvɪliə/ - which is lovely in its own way, I think.

Any other flowers named after people that come to mind?

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