How is "Et" prounouced. As in "Et tu Brute?"

I've heard it pronounced "et to brutay?" and "ay to brutay".

  • 3
    Welcome to the site! Are you looking for some specific kind of pronunciation (classical, ecclesiastic, modern, ...)? Latin pronunciation depends on time and place; there is no single correct one. The answer here might not depend that much on the choice, but it's good to be aware.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 4 '17 at 7:19
  • 3
    I assume this is a question about how Shakespeare might have pronounced it. I was just wondering why in some editions (e.g. Norton) it is "Et tu, Brutè?" What would that grave accent mean? Incidentally, David Crystal (Crystal 2016, The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Shakespearean Pronunciation) gives ˈbruːˌtɛ (he argues it didn't become a diphthong yet then, so it's not ay). I also listened to the way Crystal pronounces it - it's clearly not ay. global.oup.com/booksites/content/9780199668427
    – Alex B.
    Jul 12 '20 at 13:23
  • 4
    @AlexB. I assume the accent is simply a reminder that the e is not silent, contrary to the Anglophone intuition. I wouldn't read more into it unless there is an explanation for the choice. (I'd be happy to vote up if you convert your comment into an answer. Taking a Shakespearean point of view explicitly is something missing from the current answers.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 12 '20 at 19:02

Although I'll give the same answer as Kevin, "et too brutay" [ɛt 'tuː ˈbruːtɛ], I will suggest a completely different reason for the uncertainty: the speaker is confused by the French pronunciation of "et", i.e. [e].

I can give personal testimony to this. Way back in the distant past, when I was in high school, one of my fellow students in English class (we were studying "Julius Caesar" at time) asked why Shakespeare had Julius say his last words in French. She was studying French, and to her, "Et tu Brute" looked (quite reasonably) French.

  • 1
    just curious: How would say - in English obviously - just tea or an old dog?
    – Alex B.
    Jul 12 '20 at 15:14
  • Your anglophonic transcription does not match your IPA; the anglophone transcription should be something like ‘et too brooteh’ to somewhat be the same as what you generously offer by IPA.
    – Canned Man
    Jul 12 at 13:08
  • @AlexB. I would assume something along the lines of /dʒasˑ tiː, əʊl dɔg/; I am almost tempted to add a glottal stop to the first one as well (/dʒasˑʔ tiː/) – almost, but not quite.
    – Canned Man
    Jul 12 at 13:11

It's pronounced et to brutay.

I'm thinking that you've heard it the other way for one of two reasons. One, the actor playing Caesar is trying not to spit in Brutus' face. Et is the wined up, and tu is the pitch.

Second reason and more likely is they're collapsing their Ts. I had a roommate, who was from Michigan, point out to me that I would do the same thing. I was raised in Eastern New Mexico in an area where most people have a minor Texas accent. So when I would say "West Texas", it would sound like "Wes Texas" because I was collapsing my Ts, normal for the area but not proper, and I never really noticed it.

Hope this helps.


What's all this "bru-tay" nonsense? It's "brute", to rhyme with "newt" - a terse monosyllable. Caesar is making a bitter pun on the name. It's also the intimation of a nickname, indicating that he who was once a close friend has cast off all human feeling. And it's a brief, staccato phrase fitting a man who has just been stabbed and is gasping out his last words.

"Bru-tay", on the other hand, adds nothing, implies nothing, means nothing, and only comes across as an absurd incongruity, a touch of pretension at a dire moment.

Shakespeare is aware of the wordplay. If the matter still needs settling, consider that he uses the word 'brute' only one other time in his works, at which place it is also an explicit pun on Brutus.

  • 3
    "Brute" is not a monosyllable in Latin. How do you know it was in this context in Shakespeare's works? Latin instruction in England around Shakespeare's time did not treat final "e" as silent, as far as I know: this early English guide to Latin implies that neuter nouns ending in e in the nominative case are pronounced with the same number of syllables in the genitive case (ending in -is).
    – Asteroides
    Jul 12 '20 at 2:42

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.