pronouncing names

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Mon Jun 24 17:57:52 CDT 2002

At 15:48 2002-06-24, Roger Burks wrote:
>The guides to *Classical* Latin written by
>people associated with linguistics are completely uniform as far as I know
>(having perused American, British, French, and German guides to Latin) in
>their guides to pronounciation.

It's important to understand *how* those guides were derived. There are no
extant sound recordings from the time of Cicero, and few treatises on
pronunciation of Latin for barbarians. Classical pronunciation is
*reconstructed*, by comparison of latinized foreign names (especially Greek
and Phoenician, that have their own historical record, and German, for
which there is a historical record from the early Middle Ages), by analysis
of verse with rhyme and meter, and other sorts of comparisons. And, at
best, Classical pronunciation is *literate* pronunciation. The
pronunciation differences between modern French, Spanish, Italian, and
Rumanian didn't arise de novo after the fall of Rome, but were more likely
the product of forces already at work among the populace of these regions.

Just as we have stabilized the grammar and vocabular of dead Latin to make
Botanical Latin, we could, I suppose, all agree on a stabilized
pronunciation. But I don't see any ground-swell of interest.

Curtis Clark        
Biological Sciences Department            Voice: +1 909 869 4062
California State Polytechnic University     FAX: +1 909 869 4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at

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