Latin/Appendix B

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Classical Latin is pronounced in a highly phonetic manner.


Vowels:
a (short): as a bat
a (long): as a father
e (short): as e bet
e (long): as a in late
i (short): as i in bit
i (long): as ee in beet.
o (short): as o in got.
o (long): as oa in boat.
u: as u in put.

Diphthongs:

  • Ae is pronounced as a long 'i'.
  • Oe is pronounced as a short 'i'.

Digraphs:

  • Ph is pronounced as an aspirated 'p', like ph in 'tophat'. It is equivalent to the Greek letter φ 'phi'. *Often, however, it is just pronounced 'f' as in fat'.
  • Th is pronounced as an aspirated 't', like th in rat hall'. It is equivalent to the Greek letter θ 'theta'. *Often, however, it is just pronounced 'th' as in 'threat'.
  • Qu is pronounced 'kw' like in English.
  • Y is pronounced 'u' as in put. It is equivalent to the Greek letter υ 'upsilon'.
  • J, a form of consonantal i used in Medieval Latin texts, is pronounced like a 'y'. Similarly, i, when is used as a consonant, is pronounced with a 'y' sound.
  • C is always pronounced hard (velar [k] - as in English 'cat'), even when it follows an 'e' or 'i'. It is never pronounced as English 'c' in 'cell'.
  • G is always pronounced hard (velar [g] - as in English 'go'), even following 'e' and 'i'. It is never pronounced as in English 'gel'.
  • R was probably trilled or tapped, closer to modern Italian than to English.
  • Classical latin texts used only capital letters, and the same letter, 'V', was used for what are now spelt as 'u' and 'v' in most texts. This is still reflected in some modern Latin texts, where a capital 'u' is spelt 'V'. When used as a consonant, 'V' was pronounced much like English 'w'.

b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, q, s, t, x, and z are pronounced as they are normally pronounced in English.