How do you pronounce your Latin?

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fabric2016
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How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by fabric2016 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:08 pm

Hi guys, new to the forum here. I love that there are some good resources here for study of Latin and Greek, since languages have always been of great interest to me. I have a question regarding how you pronounce Latin. This is a personal question of sorts, in addition to obviously not being as important as actual correct Latin (that is to say, grammar, for example). I, being a singer, have sung many a piece in Latin in what is called "ecclesiastical", or perhaps more accurately, "present-day Roman Catholic" pronunciation. While this pronunciation is appropriate for such pieces, it obviously does not quite match up with the Latin that was most likely spoken by Caesar, Cicero and the rest back in the day. While the study of Latin is largely written, may I ask for some commentary on how you (as individuals) pronounce your Latin? I'm not seeking a basic guide; I simply seek to gauge the popularity of different types of pronunciation ("Customary English", "Classical Reconstruction", &c.) among the crowd here.

Thank you all.

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Ursinus
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Ursinus » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:57 pm

For a time I used restored classical pronunciation. Now I use ecclesiastical. Some of my reasons for the switch were principled and others, pragmatic.
In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus" -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Vestibulum: Revised and Expanded

Διορθοῦ με εἰ πλανῶμαι, παρακαλῶ.

Gratia et Pax,

Joannes Ursinus

Symmachus
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Symmachus » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:59 am

I think the question of pronunciation should go beyond the issue of how to pronounce 'hard' vs 'soft' c/g.

I always found the 'national' pronunciations (i.e. sounding Latin out with no attempt to modify one's native American/British/Russian/whatever accent) pretty jarring, since, before ever having taken a Latin class, I imagined the language as having a distinct and proper pronunciation of its own, more like Italian or Spanish than anything else. Although I quickly got used to this practice, which prevails among English-speaking academics, it was nice to discover that here in France the tendency seems to be toward the classical pronunciation. Many American classicists dismiss the issue of 'authentic' pronunciation, but I think it is worth cultivating for the sake of being able to understand a passage quoted out loud without having the text in front of you. Take, for example, the Latin audiobooks available on Librivox - those done by Anglophones are for me largely incomprehensible, but the story of Apollonius of Tyre, recorded by someone with a moderate Brazilian accent but making every effort to adhere to classical pronunciation, is fairly easy to understand.

Note that I am not defending this so-called classical pronunciation (i.e. basically Italian with no 'soft' consonants) on the basis of 'historical accuracy,' since it is itself a bit of a fiction, albeit a useful one. József Herman's Vulgar Latin will tell you how the Romans would have actually pronounced their language - to the best of our knowledge - at various points in history, the author having combed through the comparative-linguistic, epigraphic, and textual evidence (incl. explicit comments on pronunciation by ancient and late antique authors) to arrive at his conclusions. For example, the majority of forms for second- and fourth-declension nouns would have been aurally indistinguishable at a fairly early point, with porcus, porcum, porcō all sounding like ['por.ko]: meaning would have instead come from context as it does in modern French, where many inflections of the same nouns and verbs are pronounced identically despite being spelled differently. Actually trying to implement this 'real Latin pronunciation' today, however, would probably not facilitate our comprehension of Latin texts read aloud.
Last edited by Symmachus on Sun May 07, 2017 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

ThatLanguageGuy
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by ThatLanguageGuy » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:22 am

I've always used the classical restored pronunciation.

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Dante
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Dante » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:55 am

you have to use classical pronunciation with classical poetry or it's ruined. I suppose it doesn't matter as much with classical prose, but how hard is it to pronounce a hard "c" and make "ae" rhyme with "eye"? (but does anyone dare to actually say "kikero" in public? :lol: )

Ecclesiastical pronunciation for medieval and later. Also, those who try to keep spoken Latin alive mostly seem to use that pronunciation too (especially in Italy). I wonder if they'd think you were weird if you turned up at one of their seminars and tried to converse using classical pronunciation?

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by anphph » Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:47 am

Dante wrote:Also, those who try to keep spoken Latin alive mostly seem to use that pronunciation too (especially in Italy). I wonder if they'd think you were weird if you turned up at one of their seminars and tried to converse using classical pronunciation?
As part of the Spoken Latin community I can say empirically (no hard data here...) that a clear majority, though not an overwhelming majority, of speakers I've met use the Restored Classical, even in Italy.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Manuel » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:28 pm

I agree with Symmachus that "restored" pronunciation doesn't do much good if the speaker isn't adjusting his or her own native accent at all. It's true that there's no way to know how Romans sounded at a given point in time, but that doesn't mean you need to sound like Vergil in cowboy boots.

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Dante
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Dante » Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:35 pm

anphph wrote: As part of the Spoken Latin community I can say empirically (no hard data here...) that a clear majority, though not an overwhelming majority, of speakers I've met use the Restored Classical, even in Italy.
isn't this guy the big cheese of spoken Latin in Italy these days:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OyhWKTmJBo

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by anphph » Sun Oct 16, 2016 7:32 pm

(That's actually my Youtube account.) Most people who learn from Luigi continue to use the Restored anyway.

fabric2016
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by fabric2016 » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:08 pm

Manuel wrote:I agree with Symmachus that "restored" pronunciation doesn't do much good if the speaker isn't adjusting his or her own native accent at all. It's true that there's no way to know how Romans sounded at a given point in time, but that doesn't mean you need to sound like Vergil in cowboy boots.
I understand what you mean -- when it comes to pronunciation, when I'm not speaking English I do attempt to model my pronunciation on that of native speakers... just was wondering what kind of sources would be good to see try to "imitate", to whatever extent such a thing could be done. It seems clear to me that Miraglia has great Latin... is there anybody else who's similar but with a more "classical" pronunciation out there?

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by quendidil » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:54 am

More important than the individual phonemes is the whole prosody of speech IMO.

I think a lot of the Romance language natives speakers on Youtube pronounce Latin as though it were a syllable-timed language, where each syllable is of equal length; they don't seem to distinguish vowel lengths much or they split diphthongs and sometimes long vowels into two syllables essentially.

Germanic language speakers tend to treat Latin as though it were stress-timed, like their own languages. They over-emphasize vowel lengths by increasing stress (stress is basically increase in volume) rather than length sometimes. I find this quite jarring to my ears.

I think Latin was more likely mora-timed. Some Slavic speakers for example, this guy, maintain that quite well despite some of his consonants not being strictly "Classical" (/z/ for /s/ in some cases, can't remember others).

Lucus Eques, who used to post here has some good recordings too: https://www.youtube.com/user/ScorpioMartianus

Anyway, all of them have much better Latin than me, but I find those who try to speak in a more mora-timed style more pleasant to my ears.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by nogueirasousa » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:12 pm

I try to pronounce Latin using the reconstructed pronunciation, but, anyway, it's very hard to suppress my native Brazilian Portuguese accent and I often find myself stressing wrong syllables, besides, all we can do is to suppose how ancient Latin speakers pronounced Latin, we can't be much sure if we are pronouncing it right.

Also, there's also the length of the syllables, which sometimes I find hard to stick to, as quendidil put above, modern romantic languages speakers tend to pronunce Latin as if all syllables had the same length.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Laurentius Mons » Sun Nov 06, 2016 4:37 pm

I originally learned the German pronunciation of Latin at school, which basically means you replace all the classical sounds that don't occur in German by German sounds, which notably includes pronouncing <r> as /ʁ/ (or not pronouncing it at all after vowels, at least in my region) and <v> as /v/ instead of /w/. Many Germans also tend to be inconsistent in their pronunciation of <s>, sometimes pronouncing it as voiceless /s/, sometimes as voiced /z/. The Latin diphthongs <ae> and <oe> are usually pronounced like the German monophthongs <ä> and <ö>. Also, there wasn't much emphasis on correct vowel quantity and word stress.

When I started to study Latin on my own a couple of years later, I began to adopt restored classical pronunciation because I think it sounds more natural and in a way more "language-like" than the German pronunciation and also because I think it is more international.

However, I also like the Italianate pronunciation if it is done well, as in the case of Luigi Miraglia, whose Latin I find to be very fluent.

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Anthony Appleyard
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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Anthony Appleyard » Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:28 am

Another pronunciation nuisance is the German habit (which has got into some USA accents) of pronouncing short "e" as short "i".

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Laurentius Mons » Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:10 pm

Well, as far as I know most Germans pronounce Latin <e> as [⁠ɛ] when it is short and as [eː] when it is long, as they would usually do in German.

When you say you hear people pronounce the <e> as a "short i", do you mean the same vowel as in <sit>, i.e. [ɪ]? Because I don't think I've heard people pronounce <e> that way.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by naturalphilosopher » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:36 am

Dante wrote:you have to use classical pronunciation with classical poetry or it's ruined.
You can certainly get more out of classical pronunciation done well. On the other hand, samples of Virgil recited in ecclesiastical pronunciation by Mario Pei seem to capture a lot more poetic rhythm and ruin it less to my ear than some done in a (to me) stilted restored pronunciation by John F.C. Richards.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Ronolio » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:39 pm

I would say badly :lol:
When I was evaluated teaching for the first time one of the things that was pointed out was my issues with accentuation and vowel pronunciation. I was just glad that my pronunciation was not compared to that of the fellow with the very thick southern accent (who came from rural Alabama).

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by cantator » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:08 am

Probably like a rudely educated 12th-century Swabian.
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by calvinist » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:55 pm

I started out using the classical pronunciation without vowel length distinctions or geminate consonants, but about a year ago I decided to make an effort with vowel length and gemination. I felt like giving up many times because training oneself to develop a feel for morae is quite a hill climb. The work has paid off though and now I actually find it hard to go back to a pronunciation that ignores vowel length. Stressed syllables were the easiest to master (malum/mālum), then came gemination (operītur/opperītur), then pretonic vowel length (amābāmus not amabāmus), and the hardest to master was final long vowels (modo/modō). The following two have the best restored classical pronunciation I've heard and gives some idea of what Latin during the Late Republic/Early Empire might've sounded like spoken by the elites:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Forgq8ooePs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOzDgdhpffk

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Mārcvs Trēvic » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:54 am

I use the classical restored pronunciation.

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Re: How do you pronounce your Latin?

Post by Mārcvs Trēvic » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:37 pm

calvinist wrote:I started out using the classical pronunciation without vowel length distinctions or geminate consonants, but about a year ago I decided to make an effort with vowel length and gemination. I felt like giving up many times because training oneself to develop a feel for morae is quite a hill climb. The work has paid off though and now I actually find it hard to go back to a pronunciation that ignores vowel length. Stressed syllables were the easiest to master (malum/mālum), then came gemination (operītur/opperītur), then pretonic vowel length (amābāmus not amabāmus), and the hardest to master was final long vowels (modo/modō). The following two have the best restored classical pronunciation I've heard and gives some idea of what Latin during the Late Republic/Early Empire might've sounded like spoken by the elites:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Forgq8ooePs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOzDgdhpffk
This is good to know. Thank You.

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