Ever wondered what the most viewed post on Anole Annals is? I bet it keeps many of you up late at night trying to guess. So, I’ll tell you. Over the last year, the single most viewed page is the one entitled “The Proper Pronunciation of ‘Anole’.” In that post, an AA reader asked how to pronounce our favorite noun, and many readers responded.
But that was more than two years ago, and languages evolve swiftly. Moreover, many have joined AA’s readership since then. So, I’ll throw out the question again. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, as expressed Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree (p.10):
“…honorable, right-thinking people can disagree over whether the correct pronunciation is uh-nole or an-ole. I am less charitably inclined to my ninth grade biology teacher’s uh-no-lee, but, although I have never heard “anole” articulated in that way by anyone else, I am told that it is common in the South, from whence she came (I was surprised to find that this is the preferred pronunciation of the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, according to www.dictionary.com).
As for the origin of the name, Daudin , who named the genus, said that “anolis” was the name the indigenous Caribs used for these lizards. However, there is some possibility that in fact “anolis” may have been their name for lizards in the genus Ameiva and that the correct Carib word was “oulléouma” (see discussion in Breuil, 2002). Right or wrong, Daudin clearly chose the more mellifluous name to bestow upon these lizards! A more interesting, though doubtless less accurate, explanation is the Saba Tourist Bureau’s statement (www.sabatourism.com) that “The scientific name of ‘Anolis’ comes from the popular name of “anole” for these lizards. Anole is an ancient African name, meaning “little devil”, that is given to small lizards in western Africa.”