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More wired than a Roman Internet café

Dear Mr Whalen,

Thank you for your recent response to my reply to your open letter of June 28 2008, on the subject of the Latinum podcast.

You may be interested to know that Latinum is not the only oral Latin podcast type course available online.

There are others:

Seumas MacDonald's LinguaLatinaetGraeca

Laura Gibb's various Latin podcasts ( which have been around far longer, and are far more influential than Latinum)

Then there is Scott Olssen's

There are also a number of online sources with the Italian pronunciation, and yet others with various Church pronunciations, many of which have been online for some years.

Few, if any, of the others, are as pedantic about correct quantity as I am on Latinum. Each of the above podcasts represents a particular tradition or interpretation of oral Latin, and each admirably serves its purpose. Over the long course of its history, Latin has been spoken with a multitude of pronunciations, and variants of these survive to this day, as witnessed by the above selection. All have internal validity.

I do admit,that at present, I appear to be the only educator online using the tonal accent for Latin, but, as I have stated, I have sound philological reasons for doing so.

The reason why I am pedantic on quantity on Latinum, is that it is my ideal that my students will be able to pick up a a text without macrons, and read it with correct quantity from the go. They will also be able to consistently speak with correct quantity, something almost non-one in the academic Latin world is able to do at present. To this end, I slightly exaggerate quantity, to facilitate the learning of it. Once absorbed by the student, this will make reading Latin poetry natural - once one knows correct quantity, the need for knowing the 'rules' of how to read Latin poetry becomes more or less irrelevant - all one needs to do is listen to a few poems being read, to get the idea, and then one can do so more or less unaided. The language of Latin poetry is not divorced from the spoken language. Composing high quality poetry and prose in Latin also becomes a more natural task, once quantity is internalized.


I would still like to receive your academic response to the monograph I published online, which adds detail to an aspect of the views set out in the oral episode quoted above:


On a slightly divergent point, I have recently been in correspondence with A. David, whose work on the Greek accent I quote extensively. He notes in a recent letter that

"I think the main sign for the presence of 'stress' is the weakening of surrounding vowels and the shortening of surrounding syllables, as happens in modern English (e.g., rébel as against rebél). The strange thing is that this occurred in pre-historic Latin, when there was apparently a stress on the initial syllable, and it seems also to have occurred in pre-historic Greek. What to me is most curious is that in the historical period, in both languages, there is this development of a recessive stress-contonation, which produces a circumflex in certain syllables, without any shortening or weakening of unstressed syllables, so that there can be genuinely quantitative rhythms. Following Sihler, the Classical Sanskrit accent (as against the tonal Vedic) was essentially 'the same' as in Latin. The fact that a comparable process happened in historical Sanskrit suggests to me that we are dealing with some kind of Indo-European process, rather than a borrowing or imitation from Greek. "

I would be interested in your considered view of this, in particular, the notion that the circumflex accent produced by recessive stress is an Indo European feature, and not just a peculiarity of the Greek accent borrowed into Latin; perhaps being a native feature of that accent? Certainly, the work of Siher on Classical Sanskrit raises some interesting questions.

I look forward to your considered response,

Yours sincerely,

Evan Millner,


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