24 votes
Accepted

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

We don't know for sure how -gn- was pronounced in Classical Latin. There are a few arguments for reconstructing the pronunciation of -⁠gn- as [ŋn], or more specifically [ŋ.n], with a syllable break ...
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  • 21.7k
18 votes
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When did 'ph' start to be pronounced like 'f'?

It's impossible to pinpoint an exact date, but there is evidence. As usual, Vox Graeca or Sihler's New Comparative Grammar is where to look. The earliest inscription we have of a Greek phi ...
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  • 40.8k
16 votes
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Were 'th' and 'ch' aspirated in classical Latin?

W. Sydney Allen, not unexpectedly, has the answer in Vox Latina, 26–27: The digraphs ph, th, ch represented aspirated voiceless plosives—not unlike the initial sounds of pot, top, cot ...
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15 votes
Accepted

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

The pronunciation of the letter m at the end of words isn't completely uniform in Classical Latin. W. Sydney Allen, in Vox Latina 30–31, lays out the evidence for several different ways the letter ...
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14 votes
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Were voiceless stops (p, t, c, qu) aspirated in Classical Latin?

W. Sydney Allen, Vox Latina, 12–13, contends that the voiceless plosives in Latin were, compared to English, "relatively unaspirated," but that some aspiration may have been tolerated. First, ...
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13 votes

Does D/L variation go back to a dl cluster?

Bibliography on this phenomenon: Poucet 1966: 140, supplemented by Burman 2018; if you have free time, you can also watch "(False) Etymology and ‘Sabine -l-‘" by Nicholas Zair - he presented ...
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  • 11.2k
12 votes
Accepted

How is Latium pronounced?

Forgive me if I use IPA notation. As a non-native speaker of English, I still have some difficulty with English vowels and don't really feel comfortable using English-based systems as Webster's In ...
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  • 10.6k
11 votes
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What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

Any syllable containing a long vowel is heavy, but not all heavy syllables contain long vowels. Syllabification is a fairly abstract concept, so unfortunately, there are multiple conflicting ...
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  • 21.7k
10 votes
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Does any Latin noun originally end in -r?

Pater, mater, frater etc. are IE -r stems; compare pater with English father, Sanskrit (acc. s.) pitaram etc. Iecur is an IE -r/n heteroclit, like Avestan yakarə.
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  • 15.8k
10 votes
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Did an internal m nasalize the preceding vowel?

Sampson 1999 summarizes research on nasalization of vowels in Latin: "there is every reason for believing that in the history of Latin significant vowel nasality, allophonic and perhaps even ...
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  • 11.2k
10 votes

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

I'd like to add some interesting data I found in Weiss 2009. He mentioned Purnelle 1995, Les usages des graveurs dans la notation d'upsilon et des phonèmes aspirés: Le cas des anthroponymes grecs ...
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  • 11.2k
9 votes

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

The argument raised in the document you cite is good one. In classical Latin poetry elision is used frequently. As a rule, when a word ends in a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel, the vowel ...
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9 votes
Accepted

Are vowels long before "gn"?

First of all, it's important to note that syllables containing a vowel + gn combination are long (or, less confusingly, "heavy"), regardless of the length of the vowel itself. As Bennet says: A ...
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9 votes
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-NL- and -LL- in Classical Latin

Check out the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg. It thankfully allows you to search words, which will allow you to look at deeper results. From a cursory search, though it seems that conl- is earlier, ...
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  • 40.8k
9 votes

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

It actually helps to know that the th was not always there. A variant of his name that was common (standard?) in Medieval and early modern texts was Boetius. In some texts, he's even Boece. While a ...
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  • 40.8k
9 votes
Accepted

Why does “inferus” have /f/ rather than /d/?

Weiss (Hist. Comp. Gramm. Lat. 75, note 26) says that "the first syllable of īnferus was identified with in- and the medial *dʰ was therefore given a pseudo-initial treatment". De Vaan (s.v.) agrees, ...
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  • 28.5k
8 votes
Accepted

How many syllables are there in 'mortuus'?

Here is metric evidence in support of three syllables. I went through all occurrences of mortuu- in Vergil(ius) and Ovid(ius), and I found no occurrences that would require scanning mortuus or mortuum ...
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8 votes

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

A syllable is can be heavy in two ways. It is heavy by nature if it contains a long vowel or a diphthong. It is heavy by position if the vowel is followed by a "consonant cluster". If neither happens, ...
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8 votes

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

The answer to your question is simple and difficult at the same time. As Christian Lehmann (Lehmann 2010) puts it rather succinctly, "A light syllable is one ending in a short vowel; all other ...
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8 votes
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Is there a difference between ΚΘ and ΧΘ?

Here is Allen, Vox Graeca (15): Allen and Sturtevant (Pronunciation of Greek and Latin) both argue, based on the rarity of misspellings of the type *κθών, that the first consonant in such clusters ...
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  • 28.5k
7 votes

How to pronounce the sequence "ti" when reading Latin

There is no single standard for Latin pronunciation. The main division is between reconstructed pronunciation (based on our idea of what Classical Latin sounded like) vs. everything else. As Draconis ...
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  • 21.7k
7 votes

How to pronounce the sequence "ti" when reading Latin

The common pronunciation depends somewhat on when you're learning, as well as where. In recent decades there's been a push toward "reconstructed" pronunciation in education; if you learned that "c" is ...
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  • 52.4k
6 votes

Did an internal m nasalize the preceding vowel?

A pronunciation like [sũːmʊs] for summus in Classical Latin seems rather unlikely considering that the Italian reflex is sommo [somːo] and not [suːmo]. The letter M in Latin corresponded to the nasal ...
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  • 21.7k
6 votes

Are vowels long before "gn"?

There seems to be a certain amount of evidence that suggests the possibility of a phonetic process of vowel lengthening, or perhaps raising* before -gn-. However, evidence from Romance languages ...
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  • 21.7k
6 votes

How is Latium pronounced?

Apparently this pronunciation of Latium is similar to the one that the French use. I had the same question when I visited Rome and realized that the modern name of Lazio is the Italian pronunciation ...
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  • 161
5 votes

Loss of s before voiced consonants at word boundaries

In early classical poetry, a final /s/ did not necessarily make position in Vs CV. This is common enough in Plautus, especially when combined with Brevis Brevians, and seems to diminish in frequency ...
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  • 1,420
5 votes

Ecclesiastical Pronunciation of the word Monachus, Monachi etc

I have just found out that both plural forms monaci and monachi are, or at least were, used in Italian so I guess the variation in the Latin is probably due to whatever form the writer used in Italian....
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5 votes

Does D/L variation go back to a dl cluster?

I'm not sure how well-accepted this theory is, but Fournet proposes a relationship between [d] (*) and /l/ in Etruscan: Hurrian -da ~ Etruscan -l "[dative marker]", Umbrian *daukomṇ > ...
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  • 52.4k
5 votes

Does D/L variation go back to a dl cluster?

The big problem with the apparent cases of *d > l in Latin is working out which of them are reliable. In the late 19th century there was a vogue for trying to identify cases, most of which are now ...
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  • 51
5 votes

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

An interesting discussion. Re aqua, it is a thorny problem. There are two (indirectly three) cases in Lucretius (and, save for an anonymous tragic line and an anonymous inscription, in Lucretius alone)...
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  • 51

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