Classical latin alphabet.

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ptolemyauletes
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by ptolemyauletes » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:17 pm

Yes, two points have been made here that I really didn't make clear in my post. I wasn't thinking of Roman handwriting at all, but inscriptions, and more formal writing. Roman handwriting is something else entirely! There is a great deal of variation in forms in Roman handwriting to be sure, and I recall it being one of my toughest challenges back in my University days.

As for the letters 'u' and 'v', what Imber Ranae writes about Carolingian miniscule rings a bell. I did a Palaeography course many years ago, but I admit I have forgotten a lot of it, and what is left by no means qualifies me as an expert!

My preferred version of these letters is to never see a 'j', as that just seems wrong on so many levels (though my old composition text, Bennett's Composition, uses the 'j' as a consonant), and to use 'u' as a vowel and 'v' as a consonant. My second choice would be 'v' in both places, followed a long, long, way off by 'u' in both places. Very frustratingly, a new composition text I recently obtained by Richard Ashdowne and James Morwood uses only 'u'. Why anyone would choose to do this in a country in which the Latin exam board at A levels specifies consonantal 'v' and 'u' as a vowel is totally beyond me, and spoils an otherwise completely reasonable and practical book. The energy needed to explain to my students why they can't find 'uir' or 'seruus' in their dictionary is beyond my patience. Even my brighter students are really thrown off by this, and it causes all sorts of problems come exam time.

I suspect pure pedantry is at work here, and I am disappointed in the two gentlemen who wrote the text.
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by adrianus » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:38 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:My preferred version of these letters is to never see a 'j', as that just seems wrong on so many levels...
What levels, ptolemyauletes? // Quibus in aequoribus, ptolemyauletes?
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.

vastor
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by vastor » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:12 am

I have to admit, I'm so used to reading without j that when I do encounter it, it stops me dead in my tracks. In an ideal world, I think both i and v should have been used to represent their respective consonantal and vocalic sounds, rather than the strange situation we have today where it's most often the case with i, but not v. Appearances of j today seem unnatural and peculiar, to me at least.

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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by adrianus » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:53 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:I wasn't thinking of Roman handwriting at all, but inscriptions, and more formal writing [my emphasis // emphasin addidi]. Roman handwriting is something else entirely!
That begs the question! Bischoff prefers the term "canonical capitals" rather than "rustic capitals" because it's less value-laden. Jean Mallon's Paléographie Romaine (1952) is much about this, you could say. When you look at bookhand, apart from cursive, the "u" is there, I believe.

Id affirmat de quo litigatur! Nomen canonicarum majuscularum (seu scripturae capitalis canonicae) ante rusticarum (seu rusticae capitalis) mavult Bischoff quià minùs detrimentosum. Liber Johannis Mallon, Paléographie Romaine enim (anno millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo duo proditus), rem multò spectat, quod dici potest. Librariis in scripturis, separatim scripturae cursivae, "u" forma invenitur, nisi fallor.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.

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ptolemyauletes
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by ptolemyauletes » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:16 pm

Adrianus wrote:
ptolemyauletes wrote:My preferred version of these letters is to never see a 'j', as that just seems wrong on so many levels...
What levels, ptolemyauletes? // Quibus in aequoribus, ptolemyauletes?
Well, I just don't like it, how's that? :)
No, actually It does just seem wrong to me on a gut level, and I tend to see its use as somewhat pedantic. Certainly, its appearance in the Bennett's Composition that I use always throws off my students, so that is one point. Also, most dictionaries one finds do not use the letter j, although there are some exceptions, some notable. The lack of consistency is frustrating, but perhaps expected and maybe good at the same time. Things shuldn't always be easy.

Teaching A levels in Britain where the exam board specifically uses 'i' and 'u' and 'v' means that any dictionaries or texts that stray from this pattern are problems. But perhaps that is too much spoonfeeding? It is certanly not too difficult to grasp the concept of the different letters, but I like to give my students every edge they can get, and make it as simple as possible. They can worry about nonsense like this when they are at University.

Lastly, the Romans didn't use 'j', so why the hell would we?
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vastor
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by vastor » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:04 am

ptolemyauletes wrote: Lastly, the Romans didn't use 'j', so why the hell would we?
The ironic thing is, it isn't even pronounced like an english j, so Its function is dubious.

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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by adrianus » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:17 am

Like Sidney Smith's housewives fighting from their windows overhead, ptolemyauletes, we'll never agree because we are arguing from different premises.

Sicut illae matres familias, ptolemyauletes, ex fenestris supra Sidneyum Smith Reverendum trans angiportum altercantes, nunquàm conveniemus qui adversis ex praemissis disputemus. [quod facetius est latiné post saeculum septimum decimum]
Last edited by adrianus on Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.

adrianus
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by adrianus » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:31 am

vastor wrote:The ironic thing is, it isn't even pronounced like an english j, so Its function is dubious.
That's too much, vastor. Why would someone write "j" in latin because it was pronounced in English in a certain way? Maybe the reasons for writing "j" aren't as obvious to everyone as I assumed.

Nimis est, vastor. Quid est quod aliquis "j" litteram latinè scribit eâ ratione modo speciale sonitur ea littera anglicé? Fortassè minùs clara omnibus quàm priùs imaginatus sum argumenta pro "j" litterâ.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.

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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by Lex » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:21 am

ptolemyauletes wrote:
Adrianus wrote:
ptolemyauletes wrote:My preferred version of these letters is to never see a 'j', as that just seems wrong on so many levels...
What levels, ptolemyauletes? // Quibus in aequoribus, ptolemyauletes?
Well, I just don't like it, how's that? :)
...
Hehe... Do you cringe when you see "Julius Caesar" instead of "Iulius Caesar"? Or do you prefer "IVLIVS CAESAR"? :P

BTW, I always assumed that a J was just written to indicate a "consonantal" letter "I" (whether it is really consonantal or not, I don't know), as opposed to using "I" for a vowel.
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Re: Classical latin alphabet.

Post by Alatius » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:52 am

vastor wrote:The ironic thing is, it isn't even pronounced like an english j, so Its function is dubious.
Of course, the English j is just that: English. To, for example, a German student, the use of the letter j in Latin would in no way seem strange or dubious, since the German pronunciation of the letter is exactly as in Latin, a consonantical i. Their problems come when they start to learn English, and have to learn that the letter j for some strange reason is not pronounced "correctly", but as a fricative with a preceding d (i.e. /dʒ/).
ptolemyauletes wrote:Lastly, the Romans didn't use 'j', so why the hell would we?
Possibly for the greater clearity? Of course, if we abstain from j, we ought to make no distinction between u and v either. If we aspire to a restored classical pronunciation the two letters v and j are exactly parallel: both are post-classical inventions, both are used to represent semivowels (/w/ and /j/) as opposed to the corresponding pure vowels, and both have a pronunciation in English (/v/ and /dʒ/) that differs from the Latin pronunciation.

In my opinion, the use of u, v, i, but not j, is an unfortuante compromise (again, if we aspire to classical pronunciation). Granted, the aversion to j can easily be understood today: simply due to its rarity in modern text, it is not surprising if it seems strange and exotic. But why did this orthography gain ground in the first place? May it be due to the national Italian (and German) pronunciations? Consonantical /u/ is then pronounced /v/, which is not the corresponding semivowel, and so a different letter may be warranted. But consonantical /i/ is still /j/, so the spelling with i is not absurd (note that the letter j is not used in Italian). In those places where consonantical /u/ actually is realised as the semivowel /w/, i.e. in the combination qu and (sometimes) su, the sound is spelled with u, and so the usage is consistent with that of i.

But from an English point of view, the u, v, i orthography is illogical.

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