Questions tagged [pronunciation]

Questions regarding the pronunciation of Latin words or syllables, or the history of Latin pronunciation.

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34
votes
3answers
7k 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 ...
33
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
30
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4answers
818 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/, ...
30
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2answers
2k 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 ...
29
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3answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
23
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1answer
3k 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?
23
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1answer
4k views

Why is 'r' often rolled in modern classical Latin?

During my Latin education (using classical pronunciation), I was taught that 'r' should be 'rolled', making a sort of growling sound. For example, the r's (more the second than the first set) in ...
22
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1answer
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 [...
20
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2answers
1k 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 ...
19
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3answers
3k 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, ...
18
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1answer
738 views

What is an overview of the differences between Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin?

I'm aware of some of the differences in pronunciation between the two, and perhaps this can be covered in greater detail elsewhere, but are there also any other key areas of differences (with perhaps ...
17
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2answers
3k 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'...
16
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3answers
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 ...
16
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2answers
771 views

Why is the “u” in “nuntius” and “nuntiare” long by exception?

First of all, a warm hello to all the users here! I was recently thinking about the pronunciation of nūntius and nūntiāre along with its derivatives (such as prōnūntiāre). According to "Latin for ...
15
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2answers
366 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 ...
14
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3answers
851 views

How should I pronounce 'ait'?

I'm interested in the proper Classical pronunciation of the word 'ait'. I've been pronouncing it as 'ate', /eɪt/. Should it instead be pronounced as /a.it/ or even /aɪ.it/? What evidence is there ...
14
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2answers
593 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 ...
14
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1answer
173 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? ...
14
votes
1answer
232 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 ...
13
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1answer
913 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 ...
13
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2answers
1k 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 ...
13
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2answers
345 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 ...
12
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1answer
2k 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 ...
12
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2answers
359 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 ...
11
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3answers
448 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" ...
11
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2answers
437 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 ...
11
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3answers
256 views

How to transliterate 中文 in Mandarin pronunciation to Latin?

I am working on an art project that I would like to collect the hundreds of different transliterations of 「中文」 zhōng wén in Mandarin Chinese. (Pronunciation available here: https://translate.google....
11
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1answer
196 views

Did the Romans drop the x from “maxilla”?

C.M. Weimer quotes Cicero's Orator, 153, in this answer: How was the name of your ancestor changed from Axilla to Ala except from a desire to avoid a harsh-sounding letter? The same letter is ...
10
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2answers
1k views

What are the arguments for Classical pronunciations vs. Ecclesiastical pronunciation?

I know to some degree it's a matter of taste, but are the arguments for one pronunciation being used over another? Is it simply a matter of taste, or are there claims that one is "correct" and another ...
10
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1answer
273 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 ...
10
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1answer
3k views

How to pronounce “mihi” in a Magnificat?

This question came up recently in my choir: how should we pronounce “mihi”? The sentence is from a psalm: Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est. We’ve encountered it in two Magnificats, the first ...
10
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1answer
315 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 ...
10
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1answer
1k 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 ...
9
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3answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
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2answers
376 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 '...
9
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2answers
1k views

Is pronouncing 'th' as 's' in 'Boethius' typical in any common Latin pronunciation scheme?

I'm listening to lectures by theologian Douglas Kelly (Medieval Theology, lectures 7 and 8), in which he repeatedly pronounces the name Boethius as: boh-EE-see-us (how it sounds to me) /boʊˈiːsiəs/ (...
9
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1answer
340 views

Latin pronunciations in a choir's rendition of the anthem of the European Union

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 ...
9
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1answer
159 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?
9
votes
1answer
231 views

When did equus regain its first U?

I learned from this question about sequundus > secundus that -quus was in fact pronounced as if it was -cus. However, words like equus were not spelled as ecus, since most oblique cases would still ...
9
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5answers
1k 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?
9
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0answers
410 views

How would Marcus Aurelius have pronounced his Latin?

It is my understanding that Julius Caesar, Cicero, Octavian (Augustus) would have pronounced Latin in a manner that is decidedly Classical, characterised by: "v" as /w/ "c" and "g" always hard (i.e., ...
8
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2answers
370 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'...
8
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4answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
737 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
437 views

What is Plautus’s pun about frustum and frustrum?

The word frustum is often mispronounced as frustrum. Wikipedia states that this mispronunciation goes back a long time and a pun about them is included in the works of Plautus. Can anyone direct me ...
8
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2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
152 views

Latin exclamations ending in “h”

I was writing in Latin recently and was remarking to myself how strange "proh dolor" looks. It seems odd to see a Latin word ending in "h," and a Perseus search for such words reveals (beside Semitic ...
8
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1answer
168 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 "...