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Seeking Texts with Macrons online

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Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:48 pm

Although I am not a fan of macrons myself (except in elementary Latin textbooks and reference works like dictionaries and grammars), there are many people who put a premium on the use of macrons. Because macrons are not widely found in earlier printed Latin texts which are now in the public domain, most Latin texts you find on the Internet do not have macrons. This is an unfortunate situation: even though I do not advocate the use of macrons, I think people should be able to choose what works best for them, and the lack of texts with macrons online represents a real barrier. If you want a text already with macrons, you have to buy that text from a commercial publisher or you may just be out of luck, as most Latin texts have never been printed with macrons at all. Luckily, though, this is a situation easy to remedy: people just need to share their own texts marked with macrons online!

The debate about macrons flares up at LatinTeach (an active Latin listserv for Latin teachers) once a year or so, and this year I asked if people had sources for Latin texts with macrons online that they wanted to share. Even though I don't like macrons, I did a year-long project of publishing texts with macrons online, and I also keep an eye out for texts marked with macrons at GoogleBooks. John Whelpton responded to my query at LatinTeach with some additional suggestions for finding texts with macrons online, and I've created a list of what we have so far in a blog post at my Bestiaria Latina blog:
http://macrons.bestlatin.net
(http://bestlatin.blogspot.com/2011/04/s ... s-for.html)

IF YOU KNOW OF TEXTS WITH MACRONS ONLINE - either texts you have put there (it's easy to do with a blog or wiki or even just public GoogleDocs) or texts someone else has published online - please add a comment to that blog post with a link to the online text and a title/description, and I'll keep the list updated based on those additional comments! You can also add comments here if you want; I don't keep up with TextKit on a super-regular basis, but I will definitely keep an eye on this forum topic for any suggestions people can offer! Thanks! :-)
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby Hampie » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:49 am

Though perhaps irrelevant to this thread, I’m quite curious, so could you perhaps show me some forum topic somewhere or some blog post or homepage that does argue for or against the use of macrons? I would really like to know why people consider it a bad thing (and why people consider it a good thing too, of course).
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:23 pm

This discussion comes up frequently at LatinTeach; that was what prompted me to start trying to collect some links to online texts with macrons. I've pasted in below my thoughts about that; you can join the LatinTeach listserv here if you are interested: http://nxport.com/mailman/listinfo/latinteach -it's a pretty active list. The people who consider macrons essential are the people devoted to the re-creation of Roman pronunciation - the phonemic distinction between long and short vowels was already gone in proto-Romance (except for the lingering results in word stress patterns), and ceased to be phonemic in the Romance languages, so the advocacy of macrons is a very modern phenomenon, linked to the 'restored' pronunciation movement. For notes against the restored pronunciation movement, see Bennett's retraction of his earlier advocacy: http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/Bennett.html - although I should add that my argument against macrons is not an argument against pronunciation (I don't care what style of pronunciation people use: CUIQUE SUUM); my argument against macrons is purely about Latin orthography and how best to promote confidence in reading unmarked Latin texts.
==========
I've seen that for many students macrons provide just the opposite of the effect people here are hoping for: instead of being a spur to learning, they instead become a crutch. Teaching college with students coming straight from high school where everything was marked with macrons, I saw many students who were painfully unable to resolve ambiguous forms on their own, and instead assumed that things without macrons were short. Well, that's a recipe for disaster.

Given that you will find relatively few Latin texts marked with macrons in the larger Latin world, people need to be prepared to read texts without macrons confidently. So, I'm all for marking first year texts and reference books like grammars and dictionaries, but I am far less persuaded that marking all texts that students see is a good idea. Macrons are not part of the written Latin language; they are a modern invention. If the Romans had wanted to distinguish in writing between short and long vowels, they could have done so (writing the vowel twice, as some languages do, or using separate characters for the long and short vowels as the Greeks did for some of their vowels). Instead, the Romans opted for indicating vowel length only in extremely ambiguous situations; it is a very rare practice in Roman writing. This was the case for written Latin up until the 19th century. Punctuation has traditionally been added to Latin texts (although often at variance with the punctuation we expect in modern English, reflecting instead different times and national traditions), but macrons are something rarely found in printed Latin texts outside of the very narrow world of modern school texts.

Compare the language teaching practices in other languages. Russian, for example, is notorious for its variable word stress. As in English, Russian stress is quite unpredictable and one of the great tasks that faces any student of Russian, like any student of English, is coping with the importance of word stress in the phonology of the language, but the absence of any written markers indicating the stress. In first-year Russian textbooks, stress is marked (but even then only some of the time) and it may be marked in basic readers (but not always)… but beyond that, it is not marked, because students learning Russian really need to learn Russian, as printed with the Russian alphabet, which does not include stress marks. So too with English - stress is not marked in writing, even though it is a core feature of the spoken language.

I won't raise here my own personal lack of interest in teaching students to use diphthongs in a pseudo-imitation of Latin phonemic vowel length (a separate topic) or my own preference for marking stress rather than macrons (a style found usually only in ecclesiastical texts, but which is suitable for any printed Latin text and which is a much bigger confidence booster than macrons I have found in prompting students to read out loud), but I do want to note that if you want students to be able to take advantage of the range of printed Latin texts over the past centuries, they need to learn to read without macrons, resolving vowel length ambiguities on their own, rather than expecting the editor of the text to do that for them by adding all the macrons.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby ethan101097 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:37 pm

I have to chime in and say that while I agree that macrons are a crutch, they can be of great help... or at least they are to me. This is not because I like to have "clues" about ambiguous forms, but because they facilitate my ear for certain words. I had a wonderful professor who used to say, "when in doubt use your ear... does cap-ey-re or cap-e-re sound right?"
So I think the macron issue depends on how the language is learned. If one is only reading in their head with little effort towards correct pronunciation then macrons become a problem when they disappear in future readings; however, if one uses macrons as they read aloud and/or memorize texts, then the macrons provide a way to ensure correct pronunciation and hence resolve future ambiguities. Any short little bit of text I have memorized and been sure to pronounce correctly gives me a point of reference, so that when I see any of the words which were in the memorized text in a later reading I have a place to look in my brain. There may be several words that are very similar, but once you know one of them in its context and can hear it... the ambiguities dissolve on their own. This becomes especially important when learning subjunctive present tenses (esp. 1st and 3rd conj); here it is crucial to be certain what kind of verb one is dealing with, and if the student (me) has no point of reference to identify if the verb in question is a 1st conj indicative or a 3rd conjugation subjunctive their head will explode (its not pretty). lol! :D
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:45 pm

Hi Ethan, the macrons of most interest to me are exactly the ones that influence word stress. That's why I am actually a big fan of marking word stress (which is a standard method in ecclesiastical texts), while I am less interested in marking all macrons in the quixotic quest to mimic ancient Roman pronunciation. From your cap-ey-re example, it sounds like your professor followed the common method of using English diphthongs to imitate Roman vowel length, which is actually what makes me dubious about the quest for Roman pronunciation, at least among English speakers, for whom there is no phonemic difference in vowel length, but only in vowel quality, esp. in the diphtongization of vowels (or here in North Carolina, where I live... the triphthongization!).
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:55 pm

Alatius has marked up some texts on his website, although I imagine that these might be available elsewhere. (Some that stand out are the first book of Tacitus's Annales, the first book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and the beginning of Quintilian's Institutionis Oratoriae Liber Primus).

Oh, and he has beautiful readings of all these texts, too!

Regarding macrons: your argument seems very sensible, Laura, and I agree with it completely. It would be great if all Latin texts already had macrons, but seeing that they don't, you have to learn to get by without them if you want to enter the wide world of Latin.

Russian isn't the only example you can draw upon for this issue. I've studied some Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian, and the learner's dilemma is somewhat analogous. The alphabets of these languages don't include short vowels, which is a HUGE pain... much worse than not knowing vowel length in Latin. You literally have no clue of how to read/pronounce most words at first sight... you just have a bunch of consonants. Even the letters for long vowels can often be pronounced in a few ways (they often double as consonants). Holy texts, beginner's books, and perhaps a few newspapers mark short vowels, but otherwise native speakers don't use them. They are only marked in ambiguous circumstances. If you want to really KNOW the language, eventually you need to learn to read without the vowel markings... like a native speaker. (The Arabic alphabet is most annoying in Persian, which isn't a semitic language. At least in semitic languages there is a logic to the vowel patterns that aides pronunciation; in Persian it's all over the place.)
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:05 pm

YES, Alatius's materials are already there on the list - that is a fabulous resource, and shows the best reason for using macrons: if someone really is committed to macrons, it should not be because of their value in writing but because of their value in speaking - and Alatius's readings are wonderful to listen to, absolutely.

I remember when I did Hebrew, I was terrified at first - I had done Biblical Hebrew, where the vowels are marked, and I thought modern Hebrew would be impossibly hard, but it was just the opposite. Because the teacher used such good oral methods in class (he was Israeli), and we spoke Hebrew all day in class, it was easy to manage the writing, no problem at all. That, to my mind, would be the ideal way to do Latin: the orality should come not from the macrons, but from the orality in the classroom and HEARING the sounds, not just seeing them. Admittedly, my interest in Latin is not in speaking (I learn living languages for speaking - dead languages I learn for reading), but when I taught Latin, I used oral Latin in the classroom, just because the more ways students use their Latin, the more they will learn. If I really believed that people reading macronized texts were all reading those texts out loud, I would be more enthusiastic about macrons... but if people use macronized texts for silent reading, well, I just don't see the point of that - but that's just my opinion, of course. As I said in the blog post, I think people should be able to have whatever kind of text they want, which is why I am hoping people will share their macronized texts online. It's a drag having to pay $$$ to buy macronized texts from publishers when we could macronize the texts ourselves for free.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby ethan101097 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:46 pm

So, now I am confused! I try very hard to get my pronunciation correct, but there are so many conflicting sources. I know there are several ways of pronunciation, the two biggies seem to be ecclesiastic and a pronunciation which is as close as possible to classical Latin. I have been trying to pronounce more or less according to Wheelock, so with that in mind... help! Lol, When you say word stress do you mean the stress accent for syllables; e.g. TAY-bel = table, SAP-i-eyns = sapiens.... or do you mean the difference in meaning that comes about if I were to say "Don't put THAT on the table" versus "Don't put that on the TABLE" where the first sentence implies that one may put something else on the table but not 'that', and the second sentence implies that the object in question should especially not be put on the table. Wow, that was poorly worded on my part, but I hope you get what I mean.
The second question concerns English diphthongs to imitate Roman vowel length. Does this mean that a long "e" and a short "e" were pronounced exactly the same, differing only in the length of time they are voiced (long e = quarter note; short e = eighth note), or were there also differences in the quality of the vowel itself.
I realize I will never be able to speak like a true Roman, but I really want to employ a consistent and correct pronunciation if for no other reason than not to confuse myself! Thanks for the help!
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:06 pm

Hi Ethan, I totally agree with finding a style that you can use that is consistent and comfortable for you! That is my goal also. I don't worry about getting rid of my American accent when I speak Latin out loud - just as I speak Italian fluently and Polish fluently, but with a strong American accent - if people understand what I am saying, and they do, no problem, I am totally fluent, I don't worry about having a strong accent... I have plenty of friends who speak English with a strong foreign accent, and it doesn't bother me at all.

By stress, yes, I meant the word stress. In Latin, vowel length is one of the factors in where the word stress goes (in many languages, long vowels can ONLY occur under stress). In English, word stress is very important (if you stress the wrong syllable in English, it is very possible that the person you are speaking to will not be able to understand what you say). When I taught Latin, my students were hesitant to speak out loud, NOT because they cared about vowel length (they didn't), but because they did not know where to put the stress in the word. Here is a blog where I have some Latin that is marked with stress marks for words of more than two syllables: http://anecdotalatina.blogspot.com/2011 ... hemus.html - here is a Latin breviary site where you can see ecclesiastical texts mark this same way: http://www.breviary.net/propseason/trin ... nt0942.htm

As for vowel length, yes, you are exactly right: most Latin textbooks tell you to use a diphthong for Latin long vowels, but that is not what the Romans did. The Romans had some diphthongs, but they had long vowels, too - the difference between a long vowel and a short vowel was a difference of QUANTITY (how long it was in time), but we do not have that in English - so, instead, we tend to substitute diphthongs for those long vowels. The word you cited = English "table" = is a great example: the "ay" sound in "table" is a diphthong, while the long vowel in Latin mēnsa is a long "e" vowel - it is not the English "ay" diphthong. This Wikipedia on vowel length has lots of great information on this important topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel_length - sadly, most Latin textbooks gloss over this important issue. For English speakers, learning to distinguish between long and short vowels is almost impossibly hard because we do not ever do that in English. There are literally no examples of any words in English that can convey the difference between long and short vowels as in Latin, even though textbooks blithely act as if using a diphthong is the same as a long vowel. Wheelock, for example, says Latin ē is the same as English "they" - but that is simply not the case; English "they" contains a diphthong; it is not a long vowel as Latin ē is the long vowel corresponding to short e.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby ethan101097 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:01 pm

So the accent marks in the links you sent are the same as Wheelock mentions and follow the rule that the first syllable is accented in a 2 syllable word and in multisyllabic words the penult is accented if long, and the antepenult is accented if the penult is not long? I hope they are the same thing, and it sure looks like they are, pleeease!! LOL, as far as pronunciation goes, I try to speak like this guy (minus the elisions): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1GkN-qq ... re=related except that he is good and I am terrible; he does do they "ay" diphthong for his long e's though... so I guess I wonder... is this kind of spoken Latin acceptable in academia?
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:49 pm

Hi Ethan, yes, it is the same rule as in Wheelock - the only thing that people are unsure about is what to do with enclitics, and the uncertainty about this is HUGE, which is another one of those reasons why the quest for perfect pronunciation seems to be very quixotic: no one is really sure what happens to short syllables before an enclitics: are they stressed (in an exception to the usual rule) or are they not stressed? Since nobody seems really sure about that, my advice is just not to worry about it (but plenty of people are willing to worry about it and to denounce people for stressing, or not stressing, based on what they have concluded about that).
I think that recording is by J. Winge - he has lots of great audio materials online here, with accompanying texts, too:
http://web.comhem.se/alatius/latin/
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby ethan101097 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:18 pm

Great link, great info; thanks for the help, your awesome!
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:28 pm

I am glad to help! The internet is such a fantastic way for everybody to share what they are good at with Latin - if everybody makes their own contributions, we will have everything we need available online. Very cool!
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby furrykef » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:55 pm

I don't see anything "quixotic" about marking long vowels. If you want to read poetry, you'll need to know which vowels are long, after all. Either you'll have 'em marked or you'll have to remember at least some of them, and I think not using macrons on a regular basis makes them a lot harder to remember. I'm not sure that using them frequently is really a "crutch"... it helps if you approach it right, I think. For instance, reading sentences aloud will help you recall which vowels are long. Having to stop and look at the dictionary when you're not sure would certainly impede this.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:22 pm

The idea is to learn for yourself which vowels are long. You need macrons initially to do that; later on, you should know that for yourself - just as you know which syllables are stressed in English even if there are no stress marks to help you. Fluency means being able to read a language in its own writing system - and the writing system of the ancient Romans did not include macrons; they knew where the long vowels were without marking them and, eventually, students of Latin need to be able to do the same on their own. Just how people learn to do that on their own is up to them; at some point, though, you have to be prepared to read texts without macrons. Otherwise, the vast majority of Latin texts will be inaccessible to you.

In addition, for reading poetry, what you need to know for the meter is the value of the syllable - if a vowel is long by position, the length of the vowel itself is redundant. This is also true inside a word, where vowels may be long by position. As a result, many Latin dictionaries, such as the Oxford Latin Dictionary, do not mark long vowels that are long by position already. The length of such vowels is a matter of conjecture and the editors of the Oxford Latin Dictionary, understandably, opt for a conservative approach; as far as they are concerned, if a vowel is already long by position, the macron is not important and may, in fact, be indeterminable. (Remember: the Romans did not mark them; the macrons are the invention of modern scholars based on indirect linguistic evidence.)

I feel badly for students who are forced by their teachers to mark macrons when you cannot even just look it up in a dictionary with certainty, given that different dictionaries take different approaches to vowel length (the Oxford Latin Dictionary represents one extreme of few macrons, the Elementary Lewis marks the other extreme with many macrons, with the other dictionaries at various points along that continuum). In fine, not everyone can agree. Which is why I say: cuique suum.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby axolotl » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:30 pm

It's a wonderful discussion. And Laura, thanks for your list.

However, according to a wikipedia article, although hardly known by most modern Latinists, the use of the sign was actually quite widespread during classical and postclassical times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apex_(diacritic)
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby lauragibbs » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:46 am

Quite widespread is not a very accurate statement from what I have seen - although it was widely used in AMBIGUOUS contexts, along with various diacritics in early modern printed Latin texts too used in ambiguous contexts. Unfortunately, the all-macrons-all-the-time approach of modern Latin textbooks is not about the selective use of macrons to disambiguate truly ambiguous words.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby Teo » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:28 pm

I am trying to read the Vulgate but I have now met a serious problem. The
text is not printed with macrons as the following link:
http://www.drbo.org/lvb/chapter/47001.htm
Since there are so many biographical and geographical names in the Bible, how
can I decide the word stress without the help of the macrons?
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby mwh » Sat Aug 23, 2014 3:32 am

They're not Latin names, but they'd have been brought into line with ordinary Latin pronunciation habits; and at least some of the vowel quantities will have been known, or at least have had accepted values. "Jesus" two longs, for instance. You could try looking at the Greek, which disambiguates "a" "e" and "o" (and some "i"s and "u"s, as in Jesus); presumably the Latin followed suit.

"Salmon genuit Booz" appeals to my puerile sense of humor. By means of fermentation, clearly. Rahab (= rehab) follows.
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby Teo » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:51 am

"Salmon genuit Booz" appeals to my puerile sense of humor. By means of fermentation, clearly. Rahab (= rehab) follows.
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I am not a native speaker of English. Can you explain what you mean in simpler English?
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Re: Seeking Texts with Macrons online

Postby mwh » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:02 pm

It was a feeble joke which I should never have perpetrated; the vulgate version of Matt.1:5 caught my eye. Salmon is a fish. Booze is liquor, alcohol. Rehab is short for rehabilitation: rehabilitation centers treat people with alcohol/drug addiction.

So please wipe that from your mind. On the pronunciation of the names, see now your "Vulgate" thread.
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