Lucus Eques wrote:... CAUE NE EAS becoming CAU NEAS is a great example of Latin's transition between consonantal and vocalic U. In the very word itself, cauÄ“re, the supine is cautus. Perhaps you would insist that this is an archaic remanent where consonantal U was still like English W. Yet we see in Cicero's very jest that, at least in Latin during the Classical period, consonantal U was still close to vocalic U, and likely the same as English W.
Lucus, "likely the same" is as wishful as some of Ellis's "convictions".
I'm interested in the phonetic logic that converts the U vocalic into a W consonantal sound. I've found that it is certainly not necessary to shift the pronunciation so far forward as English W.
And in the end I simply do not like the sound of English W applied to Latin consonantal U. It sounds out of place to my ears. However, I must admit that I have never heard an ancient Roman speaking, so I could be totally wrong.
This discussion has me thinking about the various pronunciations Latin must have met with during the great scholastic period of the late Middle Ages. I mean, how do you think a Medieval Swabian pronounced it ? Where certain sounds are difficult or impossible for a non-native speaker we simply do the best we can.
As for the "wawa" sound of Latin U-consonant, whereby it sounds like English W and to Amadeus sounds like baby talk, let us ask ourselves: what does a baby do most often in Latin?
Probably what babies everywhere do.
If you say uÄgit you'd be right on! uÄgÄ«re is onomatopoeic, and this word is no more likely to have started with the sound of English V than Ancient Greek sheep would have cried "vee! vee!"
Babies are capable of making the entire range of vocables. They are not particularly good authorities for the pronuciation of any language. Sheep are even worse.
I agree that the English V sound is probably incorrect.
I've been experimenting with the English U sound as a vowel. I note that it is comprehensible whether begin in the rear of the palatal range or further forward, and I suspect that dialect pronunciations use these differing positions. If the U is begun further back, it acquires the percussive force as a consonant that I like when combined with a following vowel (and it doesn't much sound like English W). If it is pronounced further forward it acquires the softer sound of the English W.
Lucus, I hope you're not taking me too awfully seriously. The way I see it, we can read Priscian and Donatus all we want, but in the end we have only a more or less obscure notion of what they sounded like when they themselves spoke Latin. Lord's text does illustrate the efforts taken by Latim grammarians to ensure correct pronunciation, but I think it's a bit of fool's errand to assume we can faithfully reconstruct the language's sound. What we can achieve is an agreed-upon basis for our efforts and proceed with diligence to uncover what facts we can. For myself, reading Lord has made me more sensitive to a variety of my assumptions, and I know I'll change some pronunciation for my subsequent readings.