This chapter's purpose is to demonstrate hands-on spoken latin using dialogues, word lists, colloquial expressions and all that is needed to grasp spoken latin.
It is recommended that you cover all verb, adjective and noun endings and have read through the rest of the Latin book, or at least the revision pages, before you embark on this. Subjunctive, infinitive and indicative all need to be well understood in order to complete this course.
At the end of every exercise there will be a show-hide exercise and sometimes an English-Latin translation. There will often be referenced footnotes showing where there have been quotes from original Latin authors and tips to usage of sentences.
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Latin as a language was spoken from its earliest origins all through the middle ages to the renaissance and beyond by numerous students, scholars and the educated nobility. Like all spoken languages, Latin evolved in vocabulary and form. Often the vernacular languages influenced how Latin was spoken. While there were many attempts to stay true to Ciceronian form in speech and writing by scholars, most when they spoke the Latin tongue used forms and vocabulary often derived from their mother tongue which would have been incomprehensible to Classical speakers. Latin grammar has remained fixed and unchanged for centuries.
The two most controversial issues about the living use of Latin (living Latin) are pronunciation and the introduction of new words. Regarding modern vocabulary, many schools exist, and there is no consensus as yet. The Roman Catholic Church publishes a lexicon (Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis) with an exhaustive number of modern words translated into Latin; often this is done through cumbersome periphrases (e.g. a hippie is ‘osor conformitatis’) and other times by arbitrary coinage of new words.
Pronunciation[edit | edit source]
When speaking Latin, the choice is usually between ‘ecclesiastical’ pronunciation and ‘classical’ pronunciation.
The ‘ecclesiastical’ pronunciation nowadays usually refers to the Italian pronunciation of ecclesiastical or ‘Church’ Latin, which is still the official liturgical language of the Catholic Church. Desiring uniformity, this Italian pronunciation is often encouraged as the standard for Masses celebrated in the Latin language. It is however only one of many regional systems of pronunciation. An example of the Italian pronunciation can be found in this video.
‘Classical’ pronunciation, like the Italian pronunciation, offers consistency of sound across national borders. It also aims to be a scholarly reconstruction of how ancient Romans spoke, or at least educated speakers of the late Republican/early imperial period. It is described in books such as the paradigmatic Allen's Vox Latina. An example of classical Latin pronunciation can be found in this video.
The sound of the classical pronunciation, in particular the replacement of the ‘v’ sound with the ‘w’ sound, has been the subject of controversy. It is, however, the clear favorite of the ‘Living Latin’ movement, which has the fastest growing number of new speakers of the language.