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Plotinus and Ptolemy

October 5, 2017

This afternoon I have to teach a class to my WEA philosophy group, on Neoplatonism. This is not a subject I know a vast amount about – I have enough knowledge at most to be able to keep a discussion going for a couple of hours, but since the class is for two hours and includes a tea-break, that should be all right. Anyway it struck me that I’d better make sure I can pronounce all the names, so I googled ‘How do you pronounce “Plotinus”?’ I’d always thought it was PLOTinus; but one website told me it was Plo-TINE-us; then another told me it was Plo-TEEN-us; and a third said it could be either PLOTinus or Plo-TINE-us. So I’m not really any the wiser.

After that I googled ‘How do you pronounce “Ptolemy”?’ I found a Youtube video one minute and eight seconds long, devoted to this single topic. It consists of a voice saying “Ptolemy” (silent P, of course) over and again, interspersed with occasional sentences such as “I hear Ptolemy has got a job in Malibu”. Most surprising of all, this video has had over a hundred thousand visits!

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    “Ptolemy has got a job in Malibu” is worthy of the Monty Python sketch “My hovercraft is full of eels” but now you’ve mentioned it I’d quite like to know what the job was!

  2. Mark Brafield permalink

    For a long time I had a problem with ‘quinoa’ (pronounced ‘keenwah’, obviously), which I thought was pronounced ‘kwin – oh – er’. Feeling nervous about this, I googled it and discovered, not only numerous You Tube videos showing how to pronounce it, but, helpfully, videos showing how to pronounce all sorts of other difficult names of foods. Unfortunately, this did not include ‘chipotle’ which I came across the other day, reducing my teenage son to tears of laughter when I telephoned our local pizza takeaway to order a pizza that rhymed with ‘chip bottle’. It is apparently – and thanks to another video – prounounced ‘chip – pot – lay’.

    On the subject of inexplicably long videos, every year we are lucky enough to take a holiday in May in Cyprus where my brother has a holiday apartment. The weather is scorching hot every day, with no rain and a cloudless blue sky across the entire island. Despite this, the weather forecast (which I always love watching in Greek) manages to last a good 3 minutes.

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    Sounds as if The Fast Show “Scorchio” would do.
    Historic names are curious in that the people who take great delight in correcting anyone using Boadicea are quite happy with English or Spanish versions of Native American names. As a sidebar there is a photograph of Geronimo driving a car which just seems wrong.

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