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In answer to Laura Gibbs' request for Latin manifestos:

Why I read Latin out loud

  • Because hearing something, even when I'm doing the speaking myself, makes it much easier to internalise and learn than when I'm just seeing the printed words on the page.
  • Because reading out loud is the only way I can think of to make sure I really know where the stress, at least, should go in any word in any given oblique case, never mind the vowel quantities.
  • Because, when it comes to poetry, not reading it out loud is like reading a musical score rather than listening to the music.
  • Because Latin is a language, dammit, and it dies if it isn't spoken just as music dies if it isn't played.

Views: 159

Comment by Raphaela on February 20, 2008 at 8:19am
Ann: Argh. I had no idea the English pronunciation of Latin was that awful back in the day!

My own experience of being taught Latin by English/Anglophone professors only dates back 20 years, by which time they were no longer doing the "spy-ritus sanct-eye" thing (though I rarely heard an e or o that wasn't diphthongised in the English way). On the down side, though, they were most alarmingly cavalier about where they placed their stresses, sometimes stressing the same word on different syllables if it came up twice in succession. I'm still trying to eradicate the unreliable aural memories I have of the way they said things, which is why I tend to notice stress in Latin recordings.
Comment by Raphaela on February 20, 2008 at 8:21am
Laura: Lest somebody stumble across this thread and get the wrong impression, let me just hasten to point out that the Latinum podcasts do NOT use that "historical English" pronunciation of Latin. As far as vowel quality goes, Evan is one of the best Anglophone readers I've heard.
Comment by Laura Gibbs on February 20, 2008 at 8:28am
Ha ha, I am glad you mentioned the Prius - my husband delights in telling people about PRIORA (and we did used to have two Priuses, although now we just have the one car), since I told him that would be the Latin plural. :-)
Comment by Ann Martin on February 20, 2008 at 8:52am
Raphaela: I didn't think of it as awful, rather as a link to a historical past where there was a consistent system in place (albeit a rather odd one!). I have just started teaching at an English school and oral Latin is still a novel concept to them, although the kids seem to be enjoying my strange ways.
Comment by Latinum Institute on February 20, 2008 at 1:06pm
Ann, of course they'll enjoy it, and after a short time, it won't be strange anymore. Its a language after all! And spoken Latin is fun.
Comment by Latinum Institute on February 20, 2008 at 1:37pm
Thanks for the compliment on my reading. I'm still improving - getting the fine nuances right - not only vowel quantity, but the general intonation and flow of a sentence, elision, etc, are still things I am still breaking my teeth on. Many decisions are, at this stage aesthetic. I am gradually incorporating more elision into my speech. I don't believe the poets would have used elision if it wasn't present in everyday conversation. Much of the elision seems to flow naturally in the pattern of speech. As I am interested in being able to read Latin poetry, aloud, I think that training oneself in 'good habits' from the beginning is important.

Your comment about University lecturers and Latin pronunciation are very accurate. I wish it were not so, but spoken Latin is a minority interest. I have had tremendous trouble finding other readers to contribute to Latinum, most academics I have approached simply saying that that they cannot produce accurate and consistent spoken Latin using the restored classical pronunciation.

That was why I decided to go it alone, and produce what I needed to teach myself. I wanted to hear correct quantity, so that I could internalize it. My first move was to convert all the Sorgll material to mp3 from real audio. (with permission) .
With my own recordings,
Things started off a little rough, I admit, but the hundreds of hours of speaking and listening to myself to pick up errors have paid off. Some of the earlier recordings still have errors, the odd incorrect stress, a mispronunciation of 'neuter' on a couple of episodes. These errors resolve themselves in later episodes. Adler's text is marvellous for learning from, as he marked out most of the stresses and vowel quantities with lexicographical precision. (Although I still double check everything against a dictionary, as he sometimes misses things out - tedious, but necessary)

When I have completed the entire podcast, in about a year's time, I want to go back and re-record the first 10 epsiodes or so. They are OK, but not really as good as they can be.
If, by the way, you are looking for spoken Latin, simply visit Johan Winge's list of links - his page is listed on Schola in the links list on the lower right. He has done all the footwork already, and only lists those who have acceptable Restored Classical pronunciation. No need to waste time 'scouring the internet' as you put it.
There are also lots of readings on Latinum that I have collected (not read by myself) in the Catullus, Horace, and Classical texts sections. These all are good as far as vowel length goes.
Evan (Metrodorus)
Comment by Raphaela on February 21, 2008 at 4:09am
I agree that spoken Latin is a minority interest. What did boggle my mind as a Classics undergrad, though, was not so much the inability of any of my teachers to do RP consistently than their complete indifference to ANY sort of consistency in pronouncing Latin. To say nothing of the fact that they would typically read Horace and Catullus and Vergil as if it was prose. (Later, in Vienna, I learned to sight-read some of the basic metres in a style that basically substituted stress for length; not ideal but at least the texts sounded like verse when we recited them.) This complete indifference to sound is just completely anomalous and unique to classics; you'd think people were actually TRYING to make sure the languages stay dead!

As for elision (I suppose more accurately one should talk about synaloepha) - I'm quite dissatisfied with what I learned (which wasn't much) about this side of things during my studies and I frankly think that most of the modern Latin-speaking set is right not to bother with it in prose because there seems to be no consensus (and possibly not enough evidence to hold out any hope of there ever being a future consensus?) about exactly how the ancients did it themselves. I'm still waiting to find a recording where somebody speaks the line "optume optumo optumam operam das" with synaloepha in a way that it's actually possible to grasp the sense of it without reading along in Plautus. Maybe we could get Johan Winge to volunteer for the experiment? Also, from your comments in this thread I can see that I'll have to revisit your podcast when I have time and check out the more recent recordings.
Comment by Frank E. Kelland on February 23, 2008 at 9:36am
Latin instruction requires vocalization, and one definitely cannot be lazy about it. I teach at a public charter school, and have students with mild autism, aspergers, and speech difficulties.
Amazingingly, oral Latin instruction has benefited them all to some degree. I think Classical Latin pronunciation and enuciation (?) provide a structure to the those pyscho-linguistic portions of the brain that stimulates and assists these students. I guess if I had the time money and wherewithal this premise would make a great paper.
Comment by Latinum Institute on February 23, 2008 at 12:35pm
The article below
on pitch processing in the brain caught my eye - I still want to write something related to it, regarding Latin as a language with pitch and tone.


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