I've never studied Latin, but I have this understanding of its pronunciation:

  • In classical Latin the "soft c" and the "soft g" do not exist.
  • In modern Vatican Latin, words are pronounced the way they would be if the were standard modern Italian words spelled the same way. That means there is a "soft c" pronounced like "ch" in "potato chips" and a soft "g" pronounced like the "j" in "blue jeans".

The pronunciations in this rendition of the anthem of the European Union differ from both of those conventions. In the phrase "pacem mundi augeat", the "g" is "hard" and the "c" is a voiceless "s". Similarly in "Cives floreat Europa" the "c" is an "s". And in "stellae signa sunt in caelo" the "c" is an "s".

And some of the vowels seem rather odd.

Is there some standard system of pronunciation to which this conforms, or are they just pronouncing it wrong, or what?

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the traditional German pronunciation:

  1. c before i, e, ae is not a voiceless s but rather /ts/
  2. ae is a monophthong, often pronounced /ɛː/ (sometimes /eː/ depending on local accent)
  3. t before i + a vowel is pronounced as /ts/ (iustitia)
  4. initial s is voiced (semper, diversitate).

I am not sure about (1) in the recording, it is difficult to tell. In the other cases I believe I hear these pronunciations.

Note that the European Hymn is a private project mostly driven by one Peter Roland from Austria. It would therefore not be surprising to find the German pronunciation.

  • I forgot to mention: The pronunciation of "Europa", in particular that of the initail diphthong, does seem like the way it's pronounced in German. May 11, 2020 at 5:39
  • I seem to hear two different c's: one /s/ (cives), the other /tʃ/ (caelo). But I'm not 100% sure either. The /s/ pronunciation matches Dutch pronunciation of Latinby those who learned it more than at least forty years ago. The /tʃ/ in caelo might be influenced by Church pronunciation. I really do not hear /z/ in semper, but rather /s/. But s internal might be voiced. All of this and the /g/ sound fairly Dutch. But the u as /u/* doesn't sound Dutch except by those who learned Latin more recently. And the pronunciation of Eu- sounds very German indeed.
    – Cerberus
    May 15, 2020 at 0:36

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