I'm a native speaker of Catalan and Spanish, so for me it is way more natural to pronounce b, d and g as [β], [ð] and [ɣ] between vowels, instead of as [b], [d] and [g].

For example, is nobis pronounced /nobis/ or /noβis/? Is ager pronounced /ager/ or /aɣer/?

Does this change between classical and ecclesiastical pronunciation?

I couldn't find any resources that were precise enough in indicating the pronunciation using IPA.

1 Answer 1


In Ecclesiastical Latin, B, D, and G are pronounced as stops, like in English (or like in Spanish at the start of a word). Ecclesiastical pronunciation is based on Italian, and Italian doesn't have fricatives there.

In Classical Latin, the picture is a bit murkier. The best evidence that these were still stops in the Classical period is that many Romance languages have stops there—it's much more likely that the stops became fricatives in Spanish than that they turned from fricatives back to stops in all the other branches.

But in Vulgar Latin, at least, one of these stops was already becoming a fricative: the descendant of Latin habēre is attested in Old Spanish as aver, French avoir, Italian avere, and so on, with a V. (Modern Spanish started spelling this as haber to look more like the Latin form, since in Spanish, haber and aver are pronounced identically.)

So while Cicero would probably pronounce nōbis with a /b/ in his carefully-prepared senatorial orations, it's very possible that common people in that era were already pronouncing it with a /β/. It's hard to pinpoint when exactly the fricative pronunciation caught on, but mistakes become more and more common over the first few centuries CE, suggesting it was becoming more universal.

It does not seem, though, that they would have pronounced ager with a /ɣ/ (or edō with a /ð/). The Romance evidence suggests that G remained a stop for quite a while longer, and it only got spirantized (turned into a fricative) in the Ibero-Romance branch.

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