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Look at this: [ə].
Do you see a phonetic symbol between the square brackets?
(On my browser I see a schwa like this: schwa. If you can't, please read the System Requirements.)
Click and listen: amare
Can you see a small arrow before the Latin word? When you click on it, can you hear the pronunciation?. If not, please read the System Requirements.

LINGVA LATINA - The Latin Language

The Latin language (Lingua Latina) was the language spoken by inhabitants of ancient Rome and other people of Latium. The language originated in around 8 centry BC.. Latin reached its prosperity from 75 BC to 175 AD, as the Roman Empire was found and the Romans conquered most parts of Europe and Africa.

When the Roman Empire collapsed in 5 centry AD, the language diverged into different kinds of Romance Languages that spoken today in different areas, including: French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian,Portuguese etc. Though the language died as a daily spoken language, it has never stopped playing important parts in the scholar world. Many great scientists, philosophers and the ecclesiae went on using Latin as a written language. In fact, having the knowledge of Latin used to be a basic requirement for scientific research and ecclesiastical positions.

In modern times, Latin is no longer spoken by people in daily life(except that Vatican still use Latin as its official language, however, Italian is in fact the common spoken language). When heard, it's most likely to be an occasion in a botanical lecture, or in a church.

However, you may find people pronounce the language remarkably different. The reason for this is partly because no prove of the "true" pronunciation of the ancient Romans can be found. Another main cause is that people tend to pronouce Latin in their mother tongue - no matter how far related it is to Latin.

Pronunciation systems

There're currently 2 major methods of pronouncing Latin in use, they're the Classical Pronunciation and the Ecclesiastical Pronunciation( or Roman/Italian pronunciation). The first sound system is recovered by linguists according to certain evidences, this system may most closely represent how Romans spoke their language. To name an example, the Latin name Cæsar , when broght into Greek, it became "Kaisar" which shows that the "C" is always pronounced hard as "k", and the diphthong "ae" is pronounced as "ai". The classical method is usually taught in classical Latin classes, and applied to classical literatures. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church holds that since the exact phonetics of Latin is unknown, using the modern Romans' tongue makes more sense. Thus, the Ecclesial Pronunciation is mainly base on the Italian language, which is spoken by modern Romans today. This method is often used to read out Neo-Latin literatures, scientific names, lection and sing songs.

Choosing which method depends on you, my suggestion is to learn both, and use the appropriate one to read corresponding contents.

There is a third pronunciation system, the so-call "Anglo-Saxon" pronunciation. It is often abused among British and American scholars, and has remarkable (and in my opinion, bad) influences. Though there're about 70% English vocabularies have Latin origins, the English Language belongs to a different linguistic family from Latin, thus they have completely different phonetic rules. Such pronunciation is definitely incorrect-not even close-, thus, this method should be prevented. In this tutorial, Anglo-Saxon pronunciation will not be covered.

Tutorial layout

The tutorial layout is listed as follows:

The reason to set up this tutorial

Though there're many resources on the internet dealing with the pronunciation of Latin, people(at least my classmates and teachers) are often confused by the phonetic rules given by different references. I face the same problem when started, therefore, I think it's a good idea to sum-up the most popular methods, as well as listing some often-made mistakes.

I'm just a beginner in Latin studying, and I found pronunciation is frustrating, especially when you hear so many people say things "against the rules". I've tried to correct them, but no one listens to me, which makes me more frustrated. Through this incomplete tutorial, I hope more colleagues could pay more attention to the pronunciation problems and help them acquaint a more reasonable tongue.

System requirements

To use this tutorial, your system should meet the following basic requirements: