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Y, oh, Y?

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Y, oh, Y?

Postby Smythe » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:20 pm

So, In many Latin textbooks such as Lingua Latina and Wheelock, I am told to pronounce the letter 'Y' like I would pronouncing the letter U in French, or an umlaut-ed U in German. I don't speak those languages. As a matter of fact, I find it asinine to teach one language by making reference to a third language which the student is not guaranteed to know. Further research indicates that a French U or a German umlaut-ed U are pronounced by saying 'eeee' with rounded lips, so that it comes out sorta sounding like 'eww' (the sound you make when you smell something bad or upon hearing a terrible pun).

My question is - is this correct? Some references just say to pronounce it like an 'i' and leave it at that.

When y'all say Syllaba, Syria, or Aegyptus how does it come out? I mention this, because in some of the ancillary books for Lingua Latina, Oberg makes a point that those words are pronounced differently but he DOESN'T SAY HOW. There just lines to the effect of 'Suria non est, Syria est.' This begging of the question drives me crazy.

Thanks in advance,
-smythe
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby Sino-Classicist » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:11 am

That seems to be right (as far as I can tell). From what I hear on the Lingua Latina recordings (Orberg is the speaker), I don't think your tongue will be quite as high as it would in an 'ee' sound, but that's probably getting a bit too nitpicky. Maybe see if you can find a copy of the recordings, or I'm sure there are online pronunciation tutorials somewhere.
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:39 pm

The "correct" pronunciation was the French u that you describe but this was a foreign sound (mostly, if not always, from Greek words) used by the cultural elite so to speak and most people would have just substituted "i" for it.

I personally pronounce it like the French u because I like the sound.
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby thesaurus » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:01 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:The "correct" pronunciation was the French u that you describe but this was a foreign sound (mostly, if not always, from Greek words) used by the cultural elite so to speak and most people would have just substituted "i" for it.


Is it an analogous situation with English speakers who pronounce common French-origin words with a French pronunciation (e.g., "memoir")?

Estne idem si Anglice loquentes verba e lingua Francogallica orta, sed in vulgus transita (sicut "memoir"), modo Francogallice loquentium dicunt?
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby Smythe » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:37 pm

Interesting ... I'll work on my pronunciation!
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:15 pm

thesaurus wrote:Is it an analogous situation with English speakers who pronounce common French-origin words with a French pronunciation (e.g., "memoir")?

I think so, but I imagine it was more widespread as it seems to me that Greek had significant prestige among Latin speakers. About "y", my old edition of Vox Latina says it was "adopted in educated circles", but "did not necessarily penetrate into colloquial speech." I know that in the development of the Romance languages there's no sign that "y" had a different sound from "i".
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Re: Y, oh, Y?

Postby Essorant » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:19 pm

The letter y is the Greek form of the letter u. The Romans removed the tail of this letter and made it v/u. Therefore, there is no substantial difference, but only a minor difference in pronunciation. When you see u spelt as y, it means that it should be pronounced with the Classical Greek pronunciation (that high pitched u, that borders on being like an i) but when it is spelt as v/u, then you pronounce it in the Latin way, just as any other v/u.
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