Latin, and English, and Italian

Tue Dec 12 13:15:11 CST 1995

Dear Taxacomer,
I just read the new, and eternal, question about Latin and its pronunciation.
Latin has been used as the language for science for centuti  ries, but already
in the middle age people from different countries - speaking Latin - had
problems in understanding each other becAuse of the different accents. Latin
is pronunced in different ways in different parts of the world. That's the way
it is. In Italy )as someone mentioned Italy) it is pronunced as the Catholic
Church pronunces it. That's another "special" Latin (as "Botanical Latin" also
\is ). The "Church" Latin has its rules of o pronunciation that - for historical-
reasons happens to be close to the way an Italian would pronunce Latin, with
some differences - though.
In the case of English speaker what's     makes them so inintelligible is that,
traditionally, vowels are more or less pronunced the same in all different
countries (except US, of course) while in the US even the vowels are pronunced
differently, and I would say, even inconsistently (I mean, the same vowel is
pronunced in different ways in different words, or even in the same word).
Consonants - as someone already mentioned - are always (and since centuries)
being pronunced differently.
So nothing new. We could decide to agree on a pronuncition standard (only for
Botanical Latin - of course), and that would be good. But I do not believe it
will never be done. So, let's be happy with the different pt ronunv ciations and

Another thing, someone sa  wrote something about English being paricularly easy
and for this reason being so widely spoken. Of course that's nonsd ense. English
is phonetically complex, doesn't have logical rules of pronunciation, so
it is not so easy to learn. Latin is phonetically simpler, but its grammar is
mot re difficult than the English one. Latin was spoken in ancient times because
of political reasons, not for its ease, the same applies to English, only
political reasons are behind its present s day diffusion. Don't be so naive. We
wouldn't be so naic ve about biology, but e we are about sociolinguistics.
Carmine Colacino
Dip. di biologia
Universita' della Basilicata
Potenza, Italy

colacino at

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