Latin Pronunciation

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THE PRONUNCIATION OF LATIN: Ancient and Modern Pronunciations

"A great deal of heat, if not light, has been spent on the problem of the "correct pronunciation of Latin". Probably most students will go with the method that their teachers use, but whichever way you follow, remember that this is a matter of scholarship, not of religion or faith. If there is any overriding parameter of judgment, it should probably be on the side of convenience, but in the last analysis the student who is really concerned with the way Latin may have sounded, as a part of his esthetic appreciation of a poet like Vergil, must try to find out the best way, so far as he can determine it, and follow it....

"Incidentally much the same misfortune has accrued to the sensitive and lovely Classical Greek language, where a perfectly attested pitch inflection of a musical fifth (marked by an acute accent in the Alexandrian period for the benefit of benighted foreigners like us) is regularly replaced by a heavy stress...."

From a collection of background essays on Latin by William Harris, Professor Emeritus of Middlebury College.

Here is a more comprehensive guide to Latin pronunciation with discussion of its evolution over time, part of the Orbis Latinus Descriptive Latin Grammar, which also has this helpful guide to alternative verb endings often found in Latin poetry.


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