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Pronouncing accented short vowels such as "i"?

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Pronouncing accented short vowels such as "i"?

Postby AeroVirtus » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:22 pm

Greetings all,

I am teaching myself Latin using Wheelock's Latin 7th Edition and supplementing with Ecclesiastical, Medieval, and Neo-Latin Sentences. I'm trying to understand the pronunciations of certain vowels. The books and sources I've seen primarily show similar long/short vowel pronunciations between Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin. However, I'm getting rather caught up in correctly pronouncing the short vowel "i".

Wheelock's discusses "i" vowel pronunciation as "ī as in machine: hīc, sīca" and "i as in pin: hic, sicca"

However, when I play the audio of words such as níhil, síne, and vir on Wheelock's site, I am hearing long "i" even though these words don't have macrons. For example, I am hearing "nee-hil, see-neh, and veer" instead of "nih-hil, sih-neh, and ver."

Is it the accent mark that makes these short "i" vowels sound long? I can't find anywhere online or in the text where it states that accented vowels should sound long. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Pronouncing accented short vowels such as "i"?

Postby Timothée » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:01 pm

I don’t know the recordings in question, but it is clear that either they are not worth their salt or you mishear something. Nor do I know what is your mothertongue, which may affect how long and short vowels are heard and perceived. Sometimes accented vowel may be heard as long when it is not, and vice versa. Note also that uir is pronounced [wir], not [wer] (it is true, however, that this happened in Proto-Romance in many cases, i.e. ĭ was often a slightly open vowel). What you didn’t ask is that h in nihil is not pronounced (intervocalically it is even weaker than “normally”), even though your recordings may well utter it.

In substandard Latin occurred something like what you describe to accented short vowels (on certain conditions).
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Re: Pronouncing accented short vowels such as "i"?

Postby mwh » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:21 pm

The accent should make no difference to the vowel quantity. So either the speaker’s pronunciation or your hearing is wrong, quite possibly both. But Church Latin pronunciation is quite different from classical, more like Italian, and the classical short/long vowel distinction is much weakened.

And welcome to textkit!
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Re: Pronouncing accented short vowels such as "i"?

Postby AeroVirtus » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:24 pm

Thank you for the kind replies. English is my native language. There's a definite possibility that I'm not hearing the pronunciation correctly and/or that the speaker's pronunciation is off.

Thank you for noting a weakened distinction between short/long vowel length in Church Latin. I have the Breviarium Romanum in Latin, and it doesn't have macrons, only accent marks. :( This puts me at a bit of a loss on how to correctly pronounce the prayers and passages this early in my Latin study. Knowing that there's a weakened distinction makes me feel a little less guilty when reciting them.
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