You are using Internet Explorer. Click here for information...

In this page

Consonants with same phonetic value in Classical and Ecclesiastical method

These consonants sounds the same in both classical and ecclesiastical method: b, d, f, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, x, z, most of which also resemble their English correspondences.

b d f k l m p q t x
Pronounced just like English, except that p and t are less aspirated, and sounds a little bit like "b" and "d".
eg. parvus, tēlum, barbarus, index .
Some evidences show that in classical period, the "m" at the last syllable may nasalize the preceeding vowel. For example, many words(especially those neuters belonging to the I-declension which ends in "um" in nominative) often became "o" in Romance languages. Thus you can pronounce educātum like [eduka:tũ] in classical method.
Always as [j] in English York, never as [ʤ] in English jeep or French [ʒ] je.
eg. Julia.
Never as the retroflexed r in English! For the sake of our ears, please use the aveolar trill or an aveolar flap "r" in Italian or Spanish! Note that the uvular trilled "r" in French or German should be prevented as well. If you have difficulty at start, use a flatened "l" to replace the sound, remember not to say it like English.
eg. terra, rex. Incorrect pronunciation for terra, Anglo-Saxon, French, German.
English speakers should be very careful not to combine with r the vowel before it. For example: er, or, ur, ar are all seperately sounded.
eg. puer (Incorrect, correct)
Usually as in English; Before c , qu, g becomes [ŋ] as in English sing.
eg. index, ancora.
As [dz] in English adze.
eg. zizānia

The evolved consonants - c, g, h, s, v, y

The above consonants are subjected to some phonetic change when Latin evolves. Thus they sounds differently between the two methods in certain circumstances.

c and g
The 2 consonants were "hard" everywhere in Classical method, but are softened before "soft vowels" in Ecclesiastical Latin. The soft vowels are e, i(y) and ae, oe.Compare the following words in both methods:
eg. coelicus (Classical, Ecclesiastical) , angelicus (Classical, Ecclesiastical) , Aegyptus (Classical, Ecclesiastical).
This letter was always sounded in Classical times, as [h] in English hard. But in most of the modern Romance languages (such as French, Spanish, Italian), it becomes silent. Thus, some Ecclesiastical bibliographies suggest to mute this letter. However, in order to prevent confusion, I tend to pronounce it anyway. However, in both methods, the h in these 2 words is always pronounced as [k]: mihi, to me and nihil, nothing. Compare the silent and sounded h in the following word:
eg. habitāre (Classical, Ecclesiastical )
In most cases, pronounced as [s] in English. In ecclesiastical method, it becomes the sonant [z] between two vowels.
eg. basis (Classical, Ecclesiastical )
In classical times, v was the vowel u and consonant w. When it's a consonant, always as [w] in English water. In Ecclesiastical method, v is as [v] in English very.
eg. via (Classical, Ecclesiastical)
Never a consonant in classical method. The same as "j" in ecclesiastical method.

Consonant Combinations

Sometimes, 2-3 consonants combines together, usually they should be all sounded, eg. glabra. However, there're some differences in pronunciation between the two methods for some special combinations. Not all of these combinations are commonly used (most for Greek words or for transliteration from other medieval European languages), especially in Classical times, but they are given for completeness.

ch, ph, rh, gh and th
In classical times, the "h" is probably just added to make the consonant more aspirated. In ecclesiastical method, ch, rh, gh and th are as [k], [r], [g] and [t], ch and gh is never soften to [ʧ] and [ʤ] even before soft vowels. ph is as [f] in English photo. In neither methods th pronouced like [θ] in English think.
eg. chorus, elephantus (Classical, Ecclesiastical), Rhëum, thesis
In classical method, usually [gn]. In ecclesiastical as [ɲ] in Italian sogno ,or French signor, or Spanish El Niño. The closest English equivalent is [nj] in canyon, but please try to imitate the previous one.
eg. magna (Classical, Ecclesiastical)
Always pronounced distinctively as [sk] in classical method. In Ecclesiastical method, as [ʃ] in English ship before soft vowels.
eg. miscēre (Classical, Ecclesiastical) scūtum
Simply as [ti] in classical latin. In Ecclesiastical, when followed by a vowel and proceeded by any letter except s, t, or x, pronouced as [ts].
eg. functio (Classical, Ecclesiastical) trīstia
cc and gg
In classical Latin, simply as [kk]. In Ecclesiastical, as [tʧ] and [dʤ] before soft vowels.
eg. ecce (Classical, Ecclesiastical)
In classical Latin, simply as [ksk]. In Ecclesiastical, as [kʃ].
eg. excipiō (Classical, Ecclesiastical)
ps pf and pn
p is so hard to be heard in front of s f and n, sometimes it's silent.
eg. pneumōnia, psittācus
qu cu su
When used before another vowel, u is usually as [w]. When followed by a velar stop [k] or [g], the orthography qu or gu suggest u to be pronounced as a semi-vowel [w]. In classical method, cu may sound like [ku] instead of [kw], thus cui is like [kui], in two syllables instead of [kwi]. su in both methods should be treated as its own syllable, for example sui [sui], sua [sua], suus [suus]. Look up a dictionary to determine the length of the vowel if you're not sure.
eg. cui (Classical, Ecclesiastical), aqua , suī