Here's a guide
to Classical Latin pronunciation
is all weird and wrong), just in case you are ever forced to read something in Latin
(letter) - (example) (type) (possibly note)
B - "b" as in "bed" (voiced bilabial plosive
C - "k" as in "kitten" (unvoiced velar plosive
D - "d" as in "dog" (voiced dental plosive
F - "f" as in "funny" (labialdental fricative
G - "g" as in "gun" (voiced velar plosive
) (origanally written C, until about 300 BCE
, since they are both velar plosives and sound similar. Example: in the Roman first name abbreviation
C. for Gaius
H - "h" as in "hand" (glottal fricative
I - "y" as in "yummie" (palatal lateral approximant
) (later written as "J" by some stupid monks
in the middle second millenium
, which is why you will often see consonant I's written as J's in a lot of modern etymology
K - "k" as in "kitten" (velar plosive
L - "l" as in "lamb" (latteral approximant alveolar
M - "m" as in "mommy" (bilabial nasal
N - "n" as in "ninny" (dental nasal
P - "p" as in "poke" (unvoiced bilabial plosive
Q - "qu" as in "quake" (It's actually two sounds. The first is "k" and the second is the Latin "v")
R - "r" as in "sinorita" (dental trill
S - "s" as in "sock" (unvoiced alveolar fricative
T - "t" as in "tick" (unvoiced alveolar plosive
V - "w" as in "wash" (voiced labial
ly, it is pronounced as an english "v", but not in classical. So, unless you're at church, remember this! The V was turned to a U around 1000 C.E.
by the same monk
s that would change I to J 500 year
X - "ks" as in "licks" (It's actually two sounds. The first is "k" and the second is "s")
BS - "ps" as in "cups"
BT - "pt" as in "apt"
CH - aspirated
PH - aspirated
TH - aspirated
Each vowel has a long and short version. The long version is sometimes shown with a macron
over the vowel.
Bold: long, Underlined: short
A - Ma
E - A
I - Sea
O - Lo
U - Two
t (origanally written "V", but you can always tell whether "V" needs to be a consonant or vowel by place in the word.)
Y - ü, as in über
) or French
AE - "igh" as in "might"
AU - "ow" as in "cow"
OE - "oy" as in "boy"
*Found only in words directly taken from Greek.
There are a couple main rules of Latin stress:
1) On the first syllable
if the word has two syllables. e.g. ROma, fIdes.
2) On the second syllable (called Penult
) from the end of a polysyllabic
word, if that is long. e.g.
: amIcus, moneAtur.
3) On the third syllable (called Antepenult
) if the second from end (Penult) is short. e.g. dOminus, sociAbilis.
(Note that Penult and Antepenult are plain Latin words: ante-paene-ultima "before-the-almost-last" and only become recondite and impressive in the mouths of the professional grammarians.)
A few further details:
1) If an enclitic
such as -que -ne -ve is used, the accent falls on the syllable directly before that enclitic.
2) But certain words like itAque are not encliticized, and compounds
like bene-fIcio are not really compounds, hence keep the accent of the verb.
3) Second declension
nouns like VergIlius keep accent on original place in genitive
, e.g. VergIli, probably in the interest of clarity
Information on stress taken from http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/LatinBackground/Stress.Pronunciation.html
How do we know how these letters are pronounced?! Nobody speaks them anymore!
Well, there are many ways linguist
s have figured out how they are pronounced. First off is the close relation
, many of the things Latin does, Italian does too. But most importantly, Linguists can tell what the consonants and vowels sound like from Roman poetry
. Nearly all the poetry
was written in meter
. From these many meters, linguists eventually were able to determine
how Latin was accent
ed and generally pronounce
d. Another important way that we figured out the pronunciation is through translatorations to other languages.