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Pronunciation Confusion

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Pronunciation Confusion

Postby OrthodoxBerean » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:45 am

I am curious I have been to the new audio section on the wheelocks latin official site and when I am listening to the way that the words are being pronounced they seem like they are being drawn out? Does the speed of the word matter? Are the words supposed to be drawn out like this person is doing? It almost sounds like he is singing the words.

Here is the link for those that have no idea what I am talking about.

http://www.wheelockslatin.com/chapters/ ... ction.html
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Postby benissimus » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:01 am

They are really emphasizing the long vowels. Long vowels should be more drawn out than short vowels, but they don't have to be so impractically long as that.
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Postby OrthodoxBerean » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:40 am

benissimus wrote:They are really emphasizing the long vowels. Long vowels should be more drawn out than short vowels, but they don't have to be so impractically long as that.


Thanks, I was hoping. :-)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:01 am

I'd also like to add my disgust for Wheelock's mispronunciation — generally for the lack of fluidity and sharp ugliness, but specifically for the short 'i' like English 'sit'. That drives me nuts. It's unforgivable.
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Postby classicalclarinet » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:36 am

Lucus Eques wrote:but specifically for the short 'i' like English 'sit'. That drives me nuts. It's unforgivable.


Forgive me, how so?

I'd also like to add my disgust for Wheelock's mispronunciation — generally for the lack of fluidity and sharp ugliness


Yes, it does seem like Ceasar barking out orders- it's strange, but still the Wheelock people say "For purposes of clarity, all words are
pronounced at a slower pace and enunciated more distinctly
than would be usual in normal reading or conversation." I don't think they'd expect that to be representing naturally spoken speech.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:44 pm

classicalclarinet wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:but specifically for the short 'i' like English 'sit'. That drives me nuts. It's unforgivable.


Forgive me, how so?


Because the vowel sound of the 'i' in 'sit', especially in most American dialects (such as the one observed of Wheelock), does not exist in any other language, certainly no other in Europe. German is the closest, but not even the lowest of German comes close to matching that schwa-like sound, which has place in our beloved English, but which has absolutely no place in a language like Latin. The Romans very, very clearly state that the vowels A, I, and U sound just the same short as they do long —

[Pompei. _Comm. ad Donat._ Keil. v. V. p. 101.] De istis quinque
litteris tres sunt, quae sive breves sive longae ejusdemmodi sunt, A, I,
U: similiter habent sive longae sive breves.


— and in the case of 'i', this means always like an English 'ee' sound. The Romans describe a vowel system virtually identical to modern Italian, and no such sound as the 'i' in 'sit' exists in that daughter-tongue.

Yes, it does seem like Ceasar barking out orders- it's strange, but still the Wheelock people say "For purposes of clarity, all words are
pronounced at a slower pace and enunciated more distinctly
than would be usual in normal reading or conversation." I don't think they'd expect that to be representing naturally spoken speech.


Yeah, I don't see the point. Maybe for the first few words, but otherwise how is the student supposed to immitate natural reading or speech when no examples are provided?

Though given the ridiculous mispronunciations on the site (as cool as it is that it exists), especially the pronunciation of final '-us' much like the English word "us," it is likely any normal-speed reading would be just as painful and inaccurate.

This is my old lyre that I like to harp on — I'm very much an advocate of reviving the spoken Roman language.
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Postby Mofmog » Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:52 pm

I've tried to think about it like spanish, but with the inclusion of longer vowels:

A- Ah
E- Ei (d-AY)
I- Ee
O- oh (but more european ;)
U- tOO

is that right?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:27 pm

Salue, Mofmog! That's close enough for a start; Spanish will definitely help; like you said, the only thing Spanish lacks is length of vowels, but otherwise the vowel quality is a perfect example. I would caution, though against pronouncing any of the vowels as a diphthong; the letter 'e' is not "eh" plus "ee" but rather a high, extended "eh" sound, just like Spanish.
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Postby bellum paxque » Sat Aug 13, 2005 1:31 am

I would caution, though against pronouncing any of the vowels as a diphthong


But what about pronouncing the diphthongs as diphthongs? filiae, for instance, or coepit? Shouldn't those contain the definite slide between vowels that characterizes a diphthong?

I need clarification on such matters because, until recently, I never suspected that my American pronunciation of short i was incorrect.

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Postby benissimus » Sat Aug 13, 2005 2:04 am

Diphthongs are pronounced about as described. The pronunciation key in that textbook is not perfect but the only way you can expect to have the most updated pronunciation is by reading the relevant experts on the topic, e.g. the book Vox Latina (and to understand the arguments therein you would probably have to have a firm base in Latin). So in short, it may be improbable to wish for an accurate pronunciation at the beginning of learning Latin. Single vowels are of course simpler due to their similarity to those in Italian/Spanish (if you know what those languages sound like).

What he meant about diphthongs is that some of our English "vowels" are not true vowels but diphthongs. The word "they" for example does not contain a true long "e" but more of an "e-i" sound. Also, our long "o" is really usually pronounced "o-u". English vowels are VERY unusual for European languages. For these reasons any attempt to describe Latin pronunciation entirely based on English is doomed to be inaccurate.
Last edited by benissimus on Sat Aug 13, 2005 2:52 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Aug 13, 2005 2:35 am

Sīcut dīxistī, Benissime; thank you for clarifying that.
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