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How/why do people pronuance Caesar

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How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby fisher99 » Thu Feb 26, 2004 2:38 pm

Simple question, I am assuming that Caesar is pronounced as in Ky-aesar. But generally people in films, TV, media or should I group them as popular culture say it as Se-aesar.

Where/when did the pronounciation go so 'wide' or the marker like this?

Or have I get it all wrong?

thanks
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Postby Tom L. » Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:19 pm

It depends on whether you pronounce the classical way or the medieval/ecclesiastical way.

According to the former, you would pronounce the C as a K, and you would sound every letter as written. (Ka - es - ar)

The ecclesiastical way, instead, calls for the C as an English "ch" (as in cheese) and the dypthong ae as an "e". (Che - sar)

But in neither case is "c" ever pronounced as a "s". (See - sar).
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Re: How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby Kerastes » Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:30 pm

fisher99 wrote:Simple question, I am assuming that Caesar is pronounced as in Ky-aesar. But generally people in films, TV, media or should I group them as popular culture say it as Se-aesar.

If you're speaking English, better continue to say "SEE-zer" like everyone else. The Italians will look at the same name and say something like "CHAY-zar", the Germans will spell it Cäsar and pronounce it "TSEH-zar", the French spell it César and ... well ... I'm not even going to try to spell out how it's pronounced without the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). And while we're at it, the ancient Greeks spelled it [face=SPIonic]Kai=sar[/face] and pronounced it the Roman way. The point is, when a name becomes part of a language, people treat it as a word in the language.

Where/when did the pronounciation go so 'wide' or the marker like this?

My language history may be a little rusty, but I'll give this a shot. At some point in the Middle Ages, the hard "k" and "g" sounds got softened to an "s" or "ch" (as in chair) and a "j" (as in joy). The Latin diphthongs "ae" and "oe" became something like "ay" as in "day" -- in fact Medieval spelling often uses "e" for "ae" and "oe" -- the long "e" was already so pronouced in Classical Latin. Then at the end of the Middle Ages, there was the great vowel shift in English, where what we call long "e" came to be pronounced as "ee" in "seed", long "i" as the word "eye", long "a" as the "ay" in "day", etc.

Now, until modern times, the tradition had been to pronounce Latin in the same way as the vernacular language. According to the English method, which was taught in Latin textbooks up to the late 19th century, the "c" is "soft c" before ae, e, i, oe, and y; the "ae" is the "long e" sound; the "s" becomes a "z" sound between vowels; and we know the last "a" in Caesar is short; hence, "SEE-zer".

By the way, I'm a musician by training, so I'll add this little tidbit. When a choir sings in Latin, they generally pronouce the words according to the Latin of the composer's nationality or to the Italian of the Roman Catholic Church. So in the phrase "pleni sunt coeli et terra", the choir singing a mass by Palestrina will say "CHAY-lee" for "caeli", the choir singing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis will say "TSAY-lee" or even "TSÖ-lee" (for the o-umlaut, hold the tongue as for "ay" but the lips as for "oo"). In a work such as Carl Orff's Catulli carmina, the words should be pronounced in the (Classical) Roman method, but the only recording Orff supervised uses the German pronunication. Go figure.

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Postby Kerastes » Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:44 pm

Tom L. wrote:But in neither case is "c" ever pronounced as a "s". (See - sar).

It is according to the English method, which was used as late as the early 20th century, before the Roman method became popular. I cringe to think that "pater noster" was ever pronounced "PAY-tuh NOS-tuh" or that "magnificat" ever sounded like the offspring of a magnifying glass and a feline.

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Re: How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby Yvonne » Thu Feb 26, 2004 5:31 pm

The Italians will look at the same name and say something like "CHAY-zar",


No, I don't think so. In Italian, - at least in the modern Roman dialect, c is pronounced "s" when it is before "i" and "e". Otherwise it's a hard c. Caesar would be something like "ka-ey'-zar", accent on the pentultimate.

-Yvonne
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Feb 26, 2004 7:16 pm

Ah the german C is the same as the pinyin! :o

And strange how they pronounce their Kaiser "Caesar" (according to latin).

Personally even in Anglican situations I do say Caesar latinly.
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Re: How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby Tom L. » Thu Feb 26, 2004 8:21 pm

Yvonne wrote:
The Italians will look at the same name and say something like "CHAY-zar",


No, I don't think so. In Italian, - at least in the modern Roman dialect, c is pronounced "s" when it is before "i" and "e". Otherwise it's a hard c. Caesar would be something like "ka-ey'-zar", accent on the pentultimate.

-Yvonne


Yvonne, I hate to disagree with you, but this is not true, in my experience. In Italian (even in Roman dialect), "C" is either pronounced as K - especially when followed by o, a, u, h or any other consonant - or as the English "ch" (as in church, cheese, chap) when it is followed by e or i. I can't think of a single instance in which the Italians would pronounce "c" (a palatal in any case) as an aspirant "s".

I think may be I misunderstood you and you mean that "c" is pronounced as a "ch" (not as an "S" as you posted) when it is before i and e.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Feb 26, 2004 9:59 pm

I shall second that.

Ancona = An kó na

C'è = che
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Re: How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby Yvonne » Fri Feb 27, 2004 11:17 pm

Whoops, I don't know why I said c before i or e would be s, I meant that's the only time it's "ch". The original post said that Italians would pronounce "Caesar" with a "ch" and my point was that no, before an a the c would be a hard k sound.

Of course if there were an i or e in between the c and a, then yes, absolutely it would be a ch sound, not s.

Sorry for the confusion. I stand by my statement that "caesar" would be "ka-ey-zar". Do we agree on that?

-Yvonne

Tom L. wrote:
Yvonne wrote:
The Italians will look at the same name and say something like "CHAY-zar",


No, I don't think so. In Italian, - at least in the modern Roman dialect, c is pronounced "s" when it is before "i" and "e". Otherwise it's a hard c. Caesar would be something like "ka-ey'-zar", accent on the pentultimate.

-Yvonne


Yvonne, I hate to disagree with you, but this is not true, in my experience. In Italian (even in Roman dialect), "C" is either pronounced as K - especially when followed by o, a, u, h or any other consonant - or as the English "ch" (as in church, cheese, chap) when it is followed by e or i. I can't think of a single instance in which the Italians would pronounce "c" (a palatal in any case) as an aspirant "s".

I think may be I misunderstood you and you mean that "c" is pronounced as a "ch" (not as an "S" as you posted) when it is before i and e.
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Re: How/why do people pronuance Caesar

Postby Kerastes » Sat Feb 28, 2004 2:13 am

Yvonne wrote:The original post said that Italians would pronounce "Caesar" with a "ch" and my point was that no, before an a the c would be a hard k sound.

Of course if there were an i or e in between the c and a, then yes, absolutely it would be a ch sound, not s.

Sorry for the confusion. I stand by my statement that "caesar" would be "ka-ey-zar". Do we agree on that?

No. Sorry. :oops: (They need an emoticon for "shrug".) The "ae" in Caesar is a diphthong, not two vowels, and as a diphthong, it corresponds to the modern Italian long "e". The word is disyllabic, not trisyllabic. Rats, wish I had an Italian dictionary I could cite.

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Postby Evito » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:06 am

Same goes for Cicero, who's name can be pronounced as Kikero or Sisero, the latter being the more widely spread but not-classical way.
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