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How to pronounce double u in Equus

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How to pronounce double u in Equus

Postby Haroldus » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:27 pm

I am studying Latin using Lingua Latina by Orberg and making good progress without referencing a dictionary. I am seeing a lot of variations in the pronunciation of classical Latin.

I have heard three different ways to pronounce Equus:
#1. Ekwus (short u as in bus),
#2. Ekus (long u as in rude), same program as #1, different speaker, different pronunciation!
#3. Ekwus (long u as in rude)

#1 and #2 I heard in a software based course from company that leads the market in Language Learning. I read on the internet that the Romans sometimes doubled long vowels so that foreigners would know how to pronounce long vowels. That would explain the pronunciation in #2.

Pronunciation #3 I heard from a company that produces the leading Latin grammar based textbook. I also checked Orberg's pronunciation and he uses #3.

Does anyone have any guidance on the correct pronunciation of Equus?

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Re: How to pronounce double u in Equus

Postby Scribo » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:01 pm

Eh, I can't work out which of your three I use, basically: EK U US for me, wide Mediterranean style vowel rather than clipped English.

EDIT: Apparently that's no2.
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Re: How to pronounce double u in Equus

Postby Alatius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:44 pm

The digraph "qu" stands for /kw/; for example, "quī" = /kwi:/ (that is "KWEE" in English spelling). This doesn't change when a "u" happens to follow, even if it may look funny with two "u"s in a row: "equus" is /ekwus/. There's no reason why the vowel would become long.
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Re: How to pronounce double u in Equus

Postby Franmorar » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:37 am

Franmorarius Haraldo salutem dicit multam.
Ave, interretialis amice.
According ancient testimonies, most of them indirect, and according to several scholars in diachronic indo-european phonetics, "u" after "q" is not a real vowel, but a sort of signal standing for "labiality", that's to say, "rounding of lips". "Q" was in fact a "labio-velar" consonant, a kind of [k] pronunced with rounded lips, and the following "u" was put there just to recall that "rounding" of precedent consonant (this pronounciation could sound sort of weird to western-euopean-language speakers, but some current languages have that phoneme in their phonetical systems). As an "poetic" evidence we can take prosodical rules of classic Latin: "u" after "q" is not considered in verse measurement or scansion. Therefore, the first "u" in "equus" is not to be pronounced, and it is only for sake of simplicity and pedagogical reasons that "qu" is pronunced as [kw], e. g. "equus" [ekwus], "equa" [ekwa]; nevertheless, these words were more likely to be pronounced otherwise in classical times (sorry, I couldn't write the corret API symbol with this keyboard). As well for sake of simplicity and didactics we usually don't pronounce the musical/tonal accent or "pitch" supposed to classical Latin and ancient Greek, the difference between long and short vowels, the alleged pronouncing difference between "longs" by nature and "longs" by position, and many others. Several scholars say and insist: "Certainly, we don't do all that, but we should".
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