English (and other) Latins.

Wolfgang Wuster w.wuster at BANGOR.AC.UK
Tue Dec 12 12:20:27 CST 1995

On Tue, 12 Dec 1995, Don Colless wrote:

> Neal Evenhuis wrote:
> <Well . . . . as far as I know, there are no rules for pronunciation of
> Latin and it sure has caused some problems. For example, if
> <English-speaking people followed correct pronunciation of Latin, good old
> <Caesar Salad [pronounced cee-zer in "English" Latin] would become
> <"Kai-zer" Salad. I'm sure there are more examples . . .
>     Try either of those examples on an Italian. In my experience, you are
> likely to be told that the correct pronunciation is "Cha-ay-sar". Also that
> they should know!.

The main reason why English Latin is difficult for other Europeans is the
pronunciation of vowels. In most other European countries, the
pronunciation of vowels is (reasonable) similar from language to
language. Thus, the letter "a" is universally pronounced as "Ah",
not as in "date"; "i" is pronounced as "ee", not as "aye"; "e" is
pronounced as "eh", not as "ee"; "u" is pronounced as "oo", not "ah"
(e.g., butter) or "yoo"; and "y" is pronounced as "ee" or as the German
U-umlaut, not as "aye" or "wye".

When I first came into contact with Latin names pronounced by
English-speakers, these differences in vowel pronunciation were the
principal difficulties. Differences in the pronunciation of Latin
names between other European languages tend to be mostly differences in
accentuation, and some (but relatively few) differences in the
pronunciation of consonants, which do much less to "distort" the sound
of the word. Acoustically, the English pronunciation really does stand
out a long way from all others.

Wolfgang Wuster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
e-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk

Thought for the day: If you see a light at the end of the tunnel,
it is probably a train coming your way.

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