Joe asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 8 years ago

Looking for an expert's opinion on Latin pronunciation?

There are so many different opinions out there, I would like to know which is correct. Here are some of the most commonly disputed parts; if possible provide the correct way in Vulgar, Classical, and Ecclesiastical Latin, as I'm very curious.

C and G: soft before "AE, E, I, OE, Y" and hard before "A, O, U" or always hard?

AE: Pronounced as a Latin "E," or like the English letter "I" in "fight" or "time?"

OE: Pronounced as a Latin "E," or like the English diphthongs as in "coin" or "soy?"

T: Pronounced as a German "Z" before "I" and another vowel (As in "NATIO" or "PARTIVM") or always hard?

R: Trilled as in Spanish (The sound would be the same in "TERRA" as the Spanish "Tierra") or untrilled as in English?

This is an important question to me; if you answer, please put your experience with the Latin language in Sources. Hopefully a professional linguist responds!

Thank you!


Thanks for responding. As a Catholic myself I've noticed some of the same variations, I hope we can both figure out which is "proper!"

Update 2:

Thank you for the very detailed answer, Miharu. I have one question though: what does your dictionary say about "AE" and "OE" after the Republic?

2 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Latin was written and spoken for over a thousand years by native speakers - If you look back into the history of English in the last thousand years, you see that changes are the usual thing.

    Pretty soon after having got the hang of writing, Latin spelling and pronounciation was identical (with one sad exception: long vowels were helas not marked as such), and most certainly double consonants were "lengthened" consonants, so that "anus" and "annus" could clearly be told apart also in written form.

    The forms oe, ae therefore were pronounced o-e and a-e. One of the many indications of this is the fact that "Caesar" made its way into Germanic of the day as "Kaiser", with the "k" as [k] and the "a-i" spoken separeately still today. (my dictionary: standard up to the end of the Republic)

    A "c" was pronounced k no matter what the following consonants were, same goes for "g": more words that were taken over by Germanic tribes attest to it: cellarium as "Keller", or the other way round: "Germani" were and still are pronounced with an ordinary [g] as in "Germanen" by German speakers. (my dictionary says: this pronunciation was standard right up to the end of the empire in 500 AD)

    "ti" was pronounced [ti] and not [tsi]

    I cannot vouch for the "r", but as this is trilled in ALL languages around the Mediterranean Sea to this very day I don't see why the Romans should have done anything else. (the English "r", the French "r" and subsequently also the modern German "r" are rather recent acquisitions - only 300 years ago, all German "r" were trilled, only slowly the french "r" made some inroads)

    The t, c and p by the way were NOT pronounced like t, k and p in English (or German) - we pronounce those consonants in an asperated (="sharp") way, but rather unaspirated like the Romance languages still do. Proof: words taken over from Greek with the aspirated vowels th (theatrum), ph (nympha), and ch (chorus) were written as such and not with just a t, p or c, because they were also pronounced differently, whereas words with t (Tartarus), p and c (octopus) were taken over unaltered in writing and pronounciation.

    The "y" however did not exist neither as sound nor als a letter in Latin. Loanwords from Greek introduced the letter Y - but my trusted Latin dictionary does not tell me what the pronounciation was.

    Interesting: the "v" was spoken like the English "w"! and there is a simple proof: there was no difference in spelling between "u" and "v" - the letter "v" could be a vowel on its own or a bilabial.

    Words like Kaiser, Keller and such made their way in this form across the Alps in the context of Caesar's campaigns which means at that time Latin was written as spoken during the period that is perceived as "classical" - so it is fair to pronounce it that way in today's language classes which teach classical Latin using classical texts.

    The changes in pronunciation came in the centuries afterwards

  • sey
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Aoife is stated a-fa. I feel the ee-fa pronunciation is whatever that is been followed by means of Americans... probably it is a pronunciation from a few subject of Ireland I'm now not accustomed to? My household's from Ulster, and I have an Aoife and an Aoibheen in my cousins, and neither pronounce their names with 'ee' sounds. I feel, until you are from a German-speakme subject, you will have to cross with Ava if you happen to like Eh-fah, and Eva if you happen to wish Ee-va.

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