How to learn to speak Latin

How to learn to speak Latin

Learn to speak Latin
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To learn to speak Latin , you obviously have to know the rules of pronunciation and accentuation of the language, since to achieve a rigorous understanding of Latin, it is mandatory to learn to pronounce it. First, in Latin you must know two things:

  • All letters are pronounced apart from H,
  • A letter will always be pronounced the same way.

To better understand Latin phonetics , we can compare it with Spanish and the differences in pronunciation between the two languages:

  • The c sounded like / k / (stop), like the Spanish house voice: cētera [kétera]. Even before e, i and before ae, oe, eu sounded like / k / until the 5th century AD. C.
  • The g is pronounced / g /, as in cat (stop, velar, voiced), or as in eagle (fricative, velar, voiced): genus – generis [guénus – guéneris].
  • As we have said, j does not exist in classical Latin. In vulgar Latin it represents i: justitia instead of iustitia [iustítia] or [yustítia] (with vowel value of i before vowel, and consonant value of i before vowel).
  • The ll is pronounced as a geminated or double / l / or between vowels: puella [pwél-la], bellum belli [bél-lum bél-li]
  • ph is pronounced / f /, as in amphibian (fricative, interdental, deaf): amphibia [amphibian].
  • The q (pronounced [ku]) formerly had the guttural sound / k / before the vowels oyu: pequnia [pekúnia] (‘money’). In modern times, what followed by a vowel represents a single sound: it begins with a voiceless guttural and ends as a continuous labial: quaestor [cuéstor]
  • The y is only found in words of Greek origin. Corresponds to French au or German ü (the lips are arranged to pronounce a u, but an i is pronounced): syllaba [sülaba].
  • The z is used only in words of Greek origin: zōdiacus [tsodiákus] – zona [tsona].

Knowing the International Phonetic Alphabet  (AFI) when learning a new language is an advantage to ensure that you pronounce a Latin word correctly.

In addition, there is the question of  the tonic accent, also present in Spanish. Simply put, the tonic accent depends on the length of the word:

  • For words with two syllables, the accent is placed on the first: ro sa, co go, Ro ma;
  • For words with more than two syllables, the tonic accent will be on the penultimate if it is a long syllable (cor ro na) or the penultimate for a short syllable (ho mi nibus).

It sounds complicated, but with practice you will see that the pronunciation becomes instinctive and you will gain fluency when speaking in Latin.

Take a Latin course to keep learning! How to learn to speak Latin

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