Friday, November 11, 2011

How to pronounce Latin vowels

How to pronounce Latin vowels

nil tam difficile est quin quaerendo investigari possit (Terence, adopted as Ritchl's motto)

How to pro­nounce Latin vowels

We've all seen sug­ges­tions (in text­books, vel sim.) for how to pro­nounce Latin vow­els. We're often given pairs of words, and depend­ing on the text the sounds are either un-​​classical or unlike the sounds of our own dialect of English.

What has worked for many of my stu­dents is using disyl­labic words or phrases in Eng­lish, show­ing the qual­i­ties of both the short and long vowel sounds of Latin in that order.

A aha! [ăhā] E bed frame [bĕd­frēm] I Phillies [fĭlīz] O autos [ŏdōz] U foot­loose [fŭtlūs]

It works as long as you under­stand that it's meant to illus­trate not the quan­tity of syl­la­bles but the qual­ity of vowels.

As I alluded to in the begin­ning, you may find that these vow­els don't work in your dialect, but the prin­ci­ple holds: find short, easy, mem­o­rable words and phrases that work within the dialect used by your stu­dents, and you should see — or rather hear — bet­ter results.

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