Latin pronounciation

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Fri Feb 26 08:09:34 CST 1999

Erast Parmasto wrote:

>    I have never heard any American / Englishman pronounce English
> correctly, the way it would have been pronounced by Mr. Shakespeare.
> Moreover, the Latin names pronounced in English (in American?) sound quite
> differently in Louisiana and Maryland. Maybe, Californian pronounciation is
> the only correct one? Let us discuss this.

The implication here is that language must not evolve.  Just as word usage
evoloves, and as new words evolve, I suspect that pronunciation must evolve as
well.  Who, in today's world, makes any attempt to pronounce English the way
that Chaucer did?  The important thing is that we use the correct (and
appropriate) words and pronounce them in a way that avoids ambiguity and
misunderstanding.  When my family moved from Ohio to middle Tennessee, I had to
pay careful attention to what was being said - the words were the same, but the
accents made them sound strange.  These regional dialects are often colorful
and give language a most interesting diversity.  I have to admit I enjoy
hearing English spoken by a "cultured" Englishman, but the English spoken by
his less well-educated countrymen (a la Eliza Dolittle) or by a so-called
southern gentleman (e.g., Shelby Foote), or by a New England Yankee is no less
enjoyable.    And, I am always amused by the way many Americans carp about
those who can't seem to pronounce English while at the same time making a
complete hash of Spanish, French, German (fill in your favorite language here),

Richard J. Jensen              TEL: 219-284-4674
Department of Biology      FAX: 219-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         E-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN  46556

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