Was Classical Latin spoken fast like in the Romance languages or slow like in English? In all the Nuntii Latini episodes, Classical Latin is spoken fast like in the Romance languages, https://areena.yle.fi/audio/1-1931339, Thomas Bervoets speaks Classical Latin both fast like in the Romance languages, https://www.stilus.nl/ce-geluid/47.mp3 and slow like in English! https://www.stilus.nl/ce-geluid/VergAen%20III,506-569%20Provehimur%20pelago.mp3

  • 4
    My results on this topic will hopefully be published soon, and then I'll have citable evidence for a proper answer; in the meantime, I can say it seems to have been spoken significantly slower than modern Romance languages, closer to English.
    – Draconis
    Mar 20 at 17:05
  • 1
    The assumptions in this question seem unfounded. Speaking rate in all languages varies between speakers and situations. It's not at all clear to me either that one can meaningfully talk about the speaking rate of a language, or that the Romance languages are generally spoken faster than English in any sense.
    – TKR
    Mar 21 at 14:24
  • 2
    @TKR: one way of measuring speech rate is number of syllables/unit of time, and languages do have measurable differences on this metric (which is likely related a lot to the types of syllables that a language uses). Some relevant Language Log posts: "Speech rate and per-syllable information across languages", 2008, Mark Liberman, "Speed vs. efficiency in speech production and reception", 2019, Victor Mair
    – Asteroides
    Mar 22 at 0:22
  • 1
    @Asteroides Thanks, I hadn't seen that research. But syllables/time doesn't seem like a good metric here because as you say, syllable types vary across languages. (And from the LL posts it looks like those papers end up arguing for a similar overall "rate".) Given the amount and more importantly the multiple dimensions of variation within any given language it seems like it would be hard even to define an "average". FWIW subjectively I don't share the OP's impression that Romance languages are generally spoken faster than English in any sense, so I'd like to see some basis for that assumption.
    – TKR
    Mar 22 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


I'm sure that the actual rate of speech would vary based on region, the age of the speaker, fluency, etc. just as in any language today.

But it's clear that elision of final vowels was common (as it is in many modern Romance languages) which may have made it sound fast to an English speaker, as that's one of the features of Romance languages that can make them sound "fast".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.