Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ecclesiastical Latin Pronunciation Guide for United States English Speakers

Inscription at the base of the oblisk in the Piazza of St. Peter's

I've debated putting this up, but I have had several people say they found this helpful, and encouraged me to post it.

I'm sure this would make any Ecclesial Latin scholar cringe, but if this helps, then it can't be that bad ... right? I'll note that I learned most of my Latin pronunciation in Rome, since there are actually different "accents" too. The French pronunciations (or accent?) of Latin are noticeably different IMHO. And as for classical Latin pronunciation, that is VERY different.

I also did not bother with long or short vowels, mainly because when singing or chanting, the vowels are usually made long anyway for rhythmic purposes (at least in the way I learned chant).

Realize though that this isn't the most scholarly listing, but I do hope it helps people understand pronunciations better. If this helps, please let me know in the comments. Or if you see any major problems, also let me know.

Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciations

A - sounds like “ah” as in “balm”
B - same as English
C - sounds like “ch” as in “cello” when followed by letters “e” or “i” or the dipthong “æ”, sounds like a hard “k” as in “calendar” when followed by “a,” “o,” or “u”
D - same as English
E - sounds like “eh” as in “dell”
F - same as English
G - soft like “j” as in “gel” when followed by letters “e” or “i”, sounds like a hard “g” as in “gum” when followed by “a,” “o,” or “u”, except when followed by “n” in which case it is a dipthong (see below)
H - sounds like h as in “horse”
I - sounds like “ee” as in “bring” unless followed by “u” in which it is a dipthong (see below)
J - not used except in later Latin, often replaced the “i” in the dipthong “iu” (see below)
K - a rather rare Latin letter from the oldest time of the language and pretty much disappeared, sounds like a hard “c” as in “Kalends”
L - same as English (two “L”’s also sound like an “L” in English)
M - same as English
N - same as English except when with a “g” as in the dipthong “gn” (see below)
O - sounds like “oh” as in “open”
P - same as English
Q - always followed by a “u” as in the English dipthong “qu” and sounds same as English as in “quick”
R - lightly trilled as in Spanish or Italian
S - sounds like “s” in “snake”
T - always hard as in “town” unless in dipthong “ti” when when followed by a vowel (see below)
U - sounds like “oo” as in “soup”
V - sounds like “v” as in “volume” (although sometimes this also represents the letter “u” in some older scripts, but this rarely happens in Ecclesial Latin texts)
W - does not exist in Latin except in foreign words
X - sounds like “kz” as in “approximate” and “rex” and “exist”
Y - rarely used (comes from the Greek), usually sounds like “ee”
Z - sounds like “z” as in “zebra”

æ or ae - sounds like “ay” as in cælum (Chay’ - loom)
au - sounds like “ow” or the “ou” in “ouch”
œ or oe - sounds like “ay” is basically an older form of the dipthong “æ”
iu or ju - sounds like “yoo” as in the Latin word “justítia” (yoo - stee’ - tzee - aah)
gu - sounds like “gw” as in “sánguine” when followed by a vowel, or “goo” as in “gulag” when followed by a consonant
gn - sounds like a Spanish “ñ” as in “agnus” (ah’ - nyoos)
ti - sounds hard like “tee” when followed by either consonants or followed by nothing, sounds soft like the z’s in pizza when followed by a vowel
sc - sounds like a soft “sh” when followed by “e” or “i” or sounds like a hard “sk” when followed by “a,” “o,” or “u”

accent marks
accent marks are very important (especially in Gregorian Chant) and will usually be written if there are more than two syllables in a word. If the word is a two syllable word, the accent is always on the first syllable unless otherwise noted.

all syllables (vowels) are pronounced unless they are a dipthong, care should be used to avoid slurring vowels together.
For example:
“Fílii” is pronounced “Fee’ - lee - ee” not “feely”
“puer” is pronounced “poo’ - air” not “pwer”
“suáve” is pronounced “soo - ah’ - vay,” not “swav-ay”
“pius” is pronounced “pee’ - oohs“ not “pyus“
“refúgium” is pronounced “ray - foo’ - jee - oom” not “ray - foo - jum”
“tuum” is prounced “too’ - oom” not “toom”


1 comment:

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

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