Pronunciation of numbers in plasmid names, etc.?

Peter Frank peter_frankde at
Thu Feb 3 16:15:47 EST 2005

dbell at ("Deanne Bell") wrote:

>While there are some rules for nomenclature of things scientific, I have
>not heard of any hard & fast rules in the pronunciations.

OK, good to know.

>In American English - 
>We often just go with 'what sounds comfortable out of your mouth'.

I thought as much. I also heard that many scientists - if in need for
an acronymic name for something new (e.g. newly discovered gene,
phenotype) - try to make up acronyms in a way that allows them to be
easily pronounced and sometimes they even try to make it sound funny
as you mentioned already.
This often involves using more than one letter from certain words that
the acronym is composed of. And in some cases, the pronunciation of
the acronyms seems to be pretty much freeform, i.e. their
pronunciation does not correspond to the "rules" of phonetics but
instead is rather meant to please the ease of pronunciation. I am
trying to recall an example from molecular biology right now (and I
definitely know there are several such acronyms in this field) but
unfortunately none comes to my mind at the moment.

>Language is often so pliable that we take
>on little microcosms of terminologies within a common environment just
>so we can communicate with each other within the same lab.

Very true.

>And I have heard HEK-293 cells called "heck-293".

Interesting. Though it sounds funny to my ears.

>As for your english . . . it may not be your first language, but you
>have mastered it in writing.

Thanks for the compliment.


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