? asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

Latin pronunciation help?

Can someone tell me how to correctly pronounce latin vowels?

Like, how do you pronounce "ae" in Latin?

Or Resquiescat in pace?

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Since Latin is no longer anybody's mother tongue, there is nobody to consult or listen to when it comes to questions about correct pronunciation in the language. There are at least two approaches to Latin pronunciation, the first being what is used during Roman Catholic liturgy in Latin, the second being what is used by classicists in schools and universities.

    Moving on to your examples, my Latin teacher in secondary school would have pronounced the "ae" in puellae as pu-ell-ai, the "ai" sounding like the "y" in the English word "my". In the case of "Resquiescat in pace" (rest in peace), he would have said "ress-kwee-eskat in pah-kay", the "pah" rhyming with "far" and the "kay" rhyming with "way". However, a Roman Catholic priest would have pronounced "pace" as [patʃe] ("pah-tchay"), influenced by the pronunciation of the Italian word for peace spelled the same way as its Latin ancestor.

    I have posted my own experiences above. If you want to go into the subject more deeply, try "Latin pronunciation demystified" at:


    The BBC has a good one-page guide at


    Here's what it says about vowels and diphthongs:


    Vowels can be pronounced either long or short. In English this affect isn't very noticeable, but in Latin, it's important to get right. Additionally, long vowels should audibly be held for longer. This is because Latin rhythm in poetry depends upon the length of syllables, instead of stresses.


    a Like the English 'ah!'

    e Like the English 'pet'

    i Like the English 'skit'

    o Like the English 'for'

    u Like the English 'put'


    a Like the English 'ha!'

    e Like the English 'they'

    i Like the English 'ski'

    o Like the English 'holy'

    u Like the English 'true'


    Latin has three diphthongs (two vowel sounds pronounced as one syllable), ae, au, and ei.

    ae Pronounced as the y in the English 'sky'.

    au Pronounced as the ow in the English 'how'.

    ei Pronounced as the ay in the English 'say'.

    If you're interested in the pronunciation of Church Latin, then have a look at:


    where you'll see how the "sc" in "descendit" is pronounced as "sh", another Italian-influenced pronunciation in the ecclesiastical version of the language.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    David's answer was spot-on; I could not have said it better myself. Another thing to remember is that C's are always hard and V's are always w's. For example, canis would not be pronounced sah-niss. it is cah-niss. Video would not be pronounced vid-ee-oh. it would be pronounced wid-ay-oh. Like David said, we don't really know how they spoke.

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