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Salvete,

Does anyone know of a good dictionary that shows the ecclesiastical pronunciation of Latin words?

I am confused by this example: a monk = monachus, pl. monachi, which I have seen written with and without the 'h' in various texts.

If the 'h' is written then the plural would be pronounced /'mɔnaki/ but without it, it would be pronounced /'mɔnatʃi/, which is how the modern Italian plural (monaci) is pronounced (with a 'ch' sound like in English 'church').

The Italian is derived from the Latin so I assume at some point the Latin was pronounced as /'mɔnatʃi/ too, but I was wondering if priests or medievalists would pronounce 'monac(h)i' according to whether the 'h' is written, or if there is a set pronunciation that does not change regardless of whether the 'h' is written?

Gratias vobis ago.

Paulus Filius Rogeri

  • Welcome! There are already some tools advertised here, though I didn't check all the online dictionaries for hints on ecclesiastical pronuntiation. In modern "standard" (in many countries, it's spoken just by a few exceptional priests formed in Rome) ecclesiastical Latin pronuntiation differs from the Italian one just a little, but in Middle Ages there were lots of variants (probably even more than all the non-standard eccl. latin dialects today). If you know in which regions and periods the c/ch confusion occured, it would help. – Pavel V. Apr 14 at 15:32
  • Thank you for your reply. I think it is mainly late texts from Italy (post 1500AD) that I have seen the variation of "monachus/monacus", "monachi/monaci" but I am quite new to Latin so there might be other occurrences in different periods and places. – Paulus Filius Rogeri Apr 15 at 17:41
  • For what it's worth, Wiktionary claims that the Classical Latin pronunciation would have been /ˈmo.na.kʰus/ with aspirated 'k' like in Ancient Greek. Since aspirated 'p' (<ph>) turned into /f/ in both later Greek and later Latin, I think it is reasonable to assume that originally aspirated 'k' (<ch>) and 't' (<th>) would have been pronounced as resp. /χ-x/ and /θ/ in later Latin as well, at least by those more familiar with Greek. I have no actual evidence though. – Jasper May May 11 at 20:30
  • 'Monk' in Welsh is "mynach" ['mənax] and "manach" in Irish, both have a [x] in so could possibly be evidence that that is how they heard the word pronounced. – Paulus Filius Rogeri May 11 at 20:32
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I have just found out that both plural forms monaci and monachi are, or at least were, used in Italian so I guess the variation in the Latin is probably due to whatever form the writer used in Italian. (From Dizionario Portatile delle Lingue Italiana ed Inglese 1819):

From Dizionario Portatile delle Lingue Italiana ed Inglese 1819

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