Ecclesiastical Latin/Pronunciation

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English to Latin[edit]

This should be the first thing you do. Find a random English sentence. Any sentence is ok. Then you should think about the sounds that exist within the sentence. We are only concerned about sounds, not meaning at this point. Your task is to rewrite the sentence writing only the sounds that are in it. If the sentence has sounds in it that do not exist in the Latin language, change the sound to a sound, any sound, that is close. For example, the most common word in the English language is the word "the"; however, the TH sound does not exist in Latin, so you have to change it to a sound that does exist in Latin, since keeping the TH spelling will not work as that will produce just a T sound. A D sound is much closer and is probably what you should use. Also, when you come across the a sound in English words like cat you should keep in mind that this sound does not exist in Latin so you will have to choose between a Latin A or a Latin E as the sound is somewhere between them.

Here is an example.

"Billy went to the store to buy some apples."

The sounds that don't exist in Latin are as follows.

"Billy went to the store to buy some apples."

And here is how it looks using only Latin letters and being spelled exaclty as it sounds.

"Bili uent tu da (di) stor (stoa) tu bai sam apols (epols)."


Sound it out[edit]

Remember that Latin is supposed to be spelled exactly as it sounds. We do not memorize a spelling that does not match the pronunciation. We memorize the pronunciation and that pronunciation controls the spelling. So now that you have the basics and have even converted some English into just sounds, it is now time to see sounds written and for you to sound it out. Don't be worried if you do not know what these words mean. They are put here for you to see the sounds and to practice your pronunciation. You can look the words up yourself later or just wait as we will cover this very often used prayer in a later lesson. In this example, remember to pronounce the Latin A as the English short o sound, this seems to be the most common beginner mistake when saying this prayer.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto; sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


Note: the ae will sound as just e. Also, unlike in English where a T followed by an r will create the ch sound, Latin does not do this. The T and the R are individually pronounced. If you blend these into a ch sound it means that you are not pronouncing your R correctly and need to listen to a cat purrrrrr for a bit to get the sound right. If you pronounce your R correctly, then you will not feel the urge to blend the T and the R.

This prayer is used very often in Catholic life when we pray the rosary, the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, and many other times as well. Interestingly, it is not used in the Mass in its current form, but is still very common for any Catholic who maintains a private prayer life in addition to Mass.