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Questions tagged [pronunciation]

Questions regarding the pronunciation of Latin words or syllables, or the history of Latin pronunciation. The desired time period for the pronunciation in question should be added.

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33 votes
3 answers
3k views

Are there exceptions to the Latin stress rules?

Do the Latin stress rules (antepenultimate if penultimate is light, penultimate if heavy) have any known exceptions? If so, what are the exceptions, and what evidence is there in the grammatical ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 732
23 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why "ex nihilo" instead of "e nihilo"?

I was helping a friend earlier with an English-to-Latin translation and we started talking about the prepositions "a(b)" and "e(x)", which lose their consonant if the following word begins with one [...
sixty4bit's user avatar
  • 475
21 votes
3 answers
4k views

When did 'ph' start to be pronounced like 'f'?

I learned from Nathaniel's answer to my previous question that 'ch', 'th' and 'ph' were aspirated voiceless stops in classical Latin. In my experience many contemporary speakers of Latin pronounce 'ph'...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
21 votes
4 answers
7k views

When did the consonant U (i.e., V) begin to be pronounced as the fricative [v] instead of [w]?

It's well established that the consonantal u (or v) was pronounced as [w] in Classical Latin (i.e., w as in wine). Of course, Romance languages developed voiced fricatives out of this u-consonant, ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
29 votes
4 answers
1k views

When is an I not an I?

For whatever daft reason, the current trend in modern Latin orthography is to write consonantal 'i' (IPA /j/) as 'i' rather than as 'j'. How can we then tell whether a given 'i' is a vowel or a /j/, ...
jwodder's user avatar
  • 522
29 votes
1 answer
9k views

What are the classical names of the letters of the Latin alphabet?

When I refer to letters in Latin, I (sadly) use the English names for them. If I knew the Latin names, I could apply Classical Latin pronunciation rules to say them properly. So, how was each ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
4k views

Were 'th' and 'ch' aspirated in classical Latin?

I have been taught that 'th' and 'ch' were pronounced just like 't' and 'c' in classical Latin, with no aspiration. The answer to this earlier question confirms that 't' and 'c' had indeed little or ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
35 votes
2 answers
12k views

How do we know how the Romans pronounced Latin?

A quick Google Search says plenty of things about Roman Latin pronunciation, and since it's an edu domain I'm inclined to believe it. However, the closest to citing a source it gets is saying "we know ...
user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
5k views

When did “c” before “e” or “i” start to be pronounced as [ts] (in contrast to classical [k])?

In Classical Latin, "c" was always pronounced as "k". Since Renaissance Latin grammar reform, the correct pronunciation of "c" before "e" or "i" was codified to [ts]. So in Renaissance the true ...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
  • 1,863
11 votes
2 answers
704 views

Are vowels long before "gn"?

Allen and Greenough, §10d, provide a general rule: A vowel before ns, nf, gn, is long: as in cōnstāns, īnferō, māgnus [emphasis modified] This seems to agree with Priscian: 'gnus' quoque vel '...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
26 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do we know how gn was pronounced in Classical Latin?

As far as I am aware, the classical pronunciation of -gn- (as in magnus) is not [gn] but [ŋn]. How do we know that this is in fact how -gn- was pronounced?
Earthliŋ's user avatar
  • 1,807
23 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was the final "-m" a "full-featured" consonant?

Is there any solid evidence supporting or denying the hypothesis that in Classical Latin the syllable-final vowel -m (especially at the end of the word) was only an orthographic convention, but in ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do we know the quantity of vowels followed by several consonants?

Judging by dictionaries and grammars, we seem to know the length of almost every vowel in classical Latin. For word-final vowels and those followed by a single consonant, the length can be figured out ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
1k views

Resources for pronouncing Latin

What resources are out there for learning to pronounce Latin? Latin was pronounced differently in different places and eras, so resources for any part of the spatiotemporal realm of Latin are welcome. ...
6 votes
1 answer
243 views

Variation between syllabic and non-syllabic V: in what contexts is it possible?

Allen's Vox Latina, 2nd edition (1988) metions that there is occasional "poetic interchange" in Latin of syllabic [u] and non-syllabic [w], mentioning trisyllabic silua and disyllabic genva ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
579 views

How to read mathematics out loud?

Reading symbolic mathematical expressions out loud in any language is mainly folklore: everyone in the field knows how to do it but finding explicit written instructions is surprisingly hard. I have ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
385 views

Greek pronunciation, invisible aspirations

Is there any evidence that aspirations that are as a result of composition no longer orthographically marked were still pronounced? Or to the contrary? I mean was προαίρησις pronounced proairesis or ...
Toothrot's user avatar
  • 589
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do we know how 'ng' was pronounced in classical Latin?

How was 'ng' pronounced in classical Latin and how do we know? I believe metric considerations strongly indicate that it was not a short consonant (/ŋ/ or other), but I can still think of two ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
6k views

What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

The rules for positioning of syllable stress in Latin are relatively simple; they are as follows: In two-syllable words, the stress always falls on the first syllable. In three or more syllable ...
Ethan Bierlein's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

How is Latium pronounced?

The Merriam Webster definition gives the following pronunciation: \ˈlā-sh(ē-)əm\. But this doesn't sound right to me. I have never heard the consonant 't' pronounced this way in Latin. Which leads me ...
ktm5124's user avatar
  • 12k
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is "s" between two vowels voiced or unvoiced?

I am phrasing the question as an absolute though I am well aware that the answer could be "we don't know" or "depends on your pronunciation." I often hear church choirs pronounce miserere with a ...
brianpck's user avatar
  • 41.5k
8 votes
2 answers
718 views

What is the rationale for modern pronunciation of Latin in music?

I'm not particularly versed in musical tradition, but I've been aware for some time now that the modern de-facto standard for pronouncing Latin in singing is what is commonly referred to as the "...
varro's user avatar
  • 4,688
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

How was "VV" pronounced?

Most instances of vv in Latin seem to fall into three categories: It's in the combination qvu or ngvu, as in eqvus, pronounced /u/ It's actually vu, a consonant followed by a vowel, as in parvus It's ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
31 votes
4 answers
5k views

What effect should a macron have on the sound of a letter and its word?

Latin makes use of macrons (small lines above letters) to indicate a different pronunciation for that letter. Exactly what should the macron indicate about the pronunciation of the letter? Does the ...
ArtOfCode's user avatar
  • 413
20 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why does "ῤάρος" have a smooth breathing?

I recently discovered that LSJ lists exactly two words beginning with ῤ (rho with a smooth breathing mark): ῤάρος and its diminutive ῤάριον. Most beginning Greek students are taught, of course, that ...
brianpck's user avatar
  • 41.5k
14 votes
2 answers
757 views

What was the sibilant in θάλασσα?

The word θάλασσα thálassa "sea" is spelled in various different ways, with different letters replacing the sigmas: some dialects had a tau, for example, while others had a theta. Do we know (through ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Were voiceless stops (p, t, c, qu) aspirated in Classical Latin?

In English, the voiceless stops/plosives (p, t, k, "hard" c) are aspirated, particularly when beginning a word. That is, speakers release a burst of air when saying pop, tea, kaluha, or coffee (put ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
534 views

Did the Romans confuse a long vowel with two short ones?

Consider the words sūs and sŭŭs. The former has one long u, the latter has two short ones in two syllables. For another similar pair with a different vowel, consider īmus and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
686 views

Why does singular "mons" become plural "montes"?

Some singular third declension nouns, ending in -s, have a t in their stem, so: singular mons → plural montes infans → infantes miles → milites I understand these to be examples of "lingual" ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
11 votes
5 answers
4k views

How did Latin sound?

Does anybody know how normal Latin dialog sounded — not the oratory or ecclesiastical versions? Are there any audio files that you recommend?
Valugi's user avatar
  • 219
11 votes
3 answers
4k views

When is "ei" a diphthong?

Many introductory Latin books will explain that Classical Latin has four diphthongs: ae and au are common, while oe and ei are rarer. (Eu and ui also show up, but if I understand right that's a Greek ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
10 votes
1 answer
629 views

Is the palatalization of "d" between "a", "i" or "o" and "ie" or "iu" only a Medieval Latin phenomenon?

In Italian and the other Romance languages, the palatalization especially concerns "c" and "g" before "e" or "i". But some words in Italian (or early Italian in the case of meriggio) show the same for ...
Vincenzo Oliva's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
428 views

Interpretation of circumflex in a poem from 1621

A poem from 1621 contains one ô and one â. The ô is the interjection ô and the â is in the relative pronoun quâ. No circumflexes are used elsewhere in the poem. Does the circumflex (or caret or ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
317 views

How is stress realized in Latin phonetically?

I have heard that Latin does not lengthen stressed syllables. If so, are they pronounced louder or with altered articulation, maybe a higher pitch?
Nicholas's user avatar
  • 191
8 votes
1 answer
371 views

Which mora of a stressed long vowel or diphthong bears the emphasis?

When a stress falls on a long vowel or a diphthong as in, for example: dīcō (IPA /ˈdiː.koː/) coepiō (IPA: /ˈkoe̯.pi.oː/) should I think that the emphasis: falls on the first mora, falls on the ...
Catomic's user avatar
  • 1,513
7 votes
1 answer
820 views

What digraphs did the Romans use?

English uses a variety of digraphs to represent sounds which lack their own letters. Some of these (such as "th" and "sh") appear in native words; others (such as "kh") only appear in loanwords. I ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
6 votes
2 answers
753 views

How did the Romans pronounce Niobe?

I finished re-reading the myth of Niobe and Latona, and it made me wonder, how did the Romans pronounce the name Niobe? Is it the same way we North American English speakers would pronounce it? ...
ktm5124's user avatar
  • 12k
6 votes
1 answer
387 views

Changing tones (?) in Classical Latin

When I heard Classical Latin for the first time on Horatii carmina quae voce canora Thomas Nudipes pronuntiat, I was surprised to hear what I will describe as changing tones! The reason why I was ...
Ana Maria's user avatar
  • 123
6 votes
0 answers
299 views

Why is pronunciation different in Turku than the rest of Finland?

In Finland ae and oe are both typically pronounced as /e:/ when they belong to the same syllable. In (and near) Turku the pronunciations are /ai/ and /oi/. (This excludes, for example, aer and poema; ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was avē truly pronounced with an "unspelled /h/"?

According to the etymology at Wiktionary, avē derived from a Punic word with an initial /h/, and was pronounced as such in the Classical period even though the word was spelt without. Is this claim, ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 732
14 votes
1 answer
241 views

Why does "e" occur in forms of 'vōs' but not 'nōs'?

The forms of nōs and vōs exhibit a pattern, except in the genitive (nostrī/um, vestrī/um) and the possessive (noster, vester). Did vōs originally resemble nōs in all its forms, only to diverge later? ...
Slade's user avatar
  • 345
13 votes
2 answers
893 views

In current teaching practice, what Latin pronunciation is most commonly taught in Europe?

I learned Latin in a US public school. Although pronunciation was admittedly never emphasized in the course, classical Latin pronunciation was always the ideal. I've met Latin students from across ...
echinodermata's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

What would a 5th-6th century learned Latin pronunciation have sounded like?

Is there any information on the status of learned pronunciations from the late imperial period up to 1000 CE? I am wondering because the Classical Latin reconstruction seems to make clear that by the ...
Andonis Neilous's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
4k views

Did the Romans pronounce ph like the letter f or the letter p?

I'm wondering – how would the Romans have pronounced ph if these letters were together in a word like "triumphantes"? Would it be pronounced like the letter f or the letter p? Did the Romans even ever ...
Landon's user avatar
  • 111
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do we know about Vulgar Latin pronunciation?

Nowadays, most Latinists learn the "reconstructed classical" pronunciation: an attempt at reconstructing the way Cicero, Caesar, or Vergil might have spoken in formal settings. However, it seems ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
10 votes
3 answers
611 views

An example sentence for Latin pronunciation

Latin pronunciation varies between times and locations, and to some extent individuals. If I want learn a new kind of pronunciation, make sure I have properly switched to a new pronunciation, or want ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
423 views

DVCITIS, DUCITIS, DŪCITIS

Are all three of these valid spellings and have I listed them in the chronological order they would have been used? DVCITIS DUCITIS DŪCITIS Would the C have been pronounced with a hard 'K', or a 'CH'...
DVCITIS's user avatar
  • 609
8 votes
2 answers
450 views

What evidence points to a long ō in the first syllable of nōscō's present-tense form?

I've read in various sources that the verb nosco 'know' had a long vowel in the first syllable in Classical Latin pronunciation: nōscō [noːskoː]. I'm wondering what the linguistic evidence is for the ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 29.3k
8 votes
1 answer
462 views

Were enclitics considered part of a word for stress purposes?

One rule of Latin stress is that it can never go farther back than the antepenult: the third syllable from the end. For example, we have cár-men "song", cár-mi-ne "with a song", and car-mí-ni-bus "...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.6k
8 votes
2 answers
4k views

How is "Et" pronounced?

How is "Et" prounouced. As in "Et tu Brute?" I've heard it pronounced "et to brutay?" and "ay to brutay".
user1874's user avatar