Why are chemical names so weird looking? Take 2-Methyl-5-(6-methylhept-5-en-2-yl)cyclohexa-1,3-diene for example. It certainly doesn't sound like anything you would want to eat, but it is just the formal name for the compound that is the main component of ginger oil, and responsible for much of ginger's characteristic bite. Like crystallized ginger, ginger tea, or a good stir fry? You've eat this compound in significant quantities.
Chemical names can look like alphabet soup, but they are a way for chemists to paint a compact picture of the structure, or at least to point out key structural features. Why is it so important to know what a molecule looks like? The structure of a chemical is what determines its behavior, how it will react, in the body and in the environment. It's key to understanding how things work on the molecular level: structure determines function. Period.
Formal chemical names, called IUPAC names (for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists, the body that decides on everything from what new elements will be called to the standards for drawing molecules), are in fact a code from which the full structure of the molecule can be unraveled. Most of the time chemists call chemicals by a common name, which also gives clues to the structure, though not so many that the molecule could be unambiguously drawn.
So back to 2-Methyl-5-(6-methylhept-5-en-2-yl)cyclohexa-1,3-diene, which looks like
The "methyl"s (METH-ill) in the name refer to a CH3 group. What, you don't see any CH3's here? This is a chemical line structure, where each intersection point (or end of a line) is a carbon atom, and the hydrogen atoms have almost all been left off. A chemist sees this structure as
So these tangled names to a chemist are codes, and once you can read the code, even a bit, you can begin to see a molecule taking shape in your mind when you read its name.
This pronounces as 2-METH-ill / 5, 6-METH-ill-hept 5 een 2 ill cyclo HEX uh 1 3 DIE-een.
There's probably a reason this is better known as zingiberene, which suggests its common origin (ginger or zingiber), but not much about its structure.