Cringy

Etaoin Shrdlu

Civis Illustris
I have to admit to being an uncircumcised Philistine who has always failed to appreciate Schiller, or at least that poem, and Beethoven, particularly the Ninth Sumphony. But the Latin version is, well, something else.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I've heard MUCH worse than that song.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Like what? (Another song?)
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
The Latin pronunciation of people around here.
 
As a beginner, I certainly can't tell whether the intricacies of restored pronunciation are all properly observed or not. Even though I keep telling myself that the purpose of proper pronunciation in this day and age should not so much be about sounding like Cicero as it shoud be about being understandable to the majority, I do feel the occasional cringe with the vowel glides that seem often to escape English/German speakers, probably because it is the most blatant un-Latin-sounding thing to do to the ear of a Romance speaker.
But I think it's quite tricky to jugde because you probably tend to be more sensitive to the pronunciation "mistakes" which are due to the influence of languages other than your own, while disregarding those that people from other countries can hear quite clearly but your ear can't.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

TheOtherDrew

New Member
I remember hearing an anecdote once about how when Catherine of Aragon arrived in England, she didn't speak any english & Prince Arthur (her first husband & future Henry viii's older brother) didn't speak any spanish. They had been communicating via letter in latin so everyone assumed they would be able to use spoken latin to converse once she arrived. Unfortunately they pronounced everything in vastly different ways & still couldn't understand each other.

Now that I think about it though, ancient latin probably had as many accents as modern english. The Roman empire covered a huge area so it would have been spoken with north african accents, middle eastern accents, central & eastern european accents etc. Just like how modern english accents vary quite a bit depending on geography.
 
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rothbard

Civis Illustris
Staff member
Now that I think about it though, ancient latin probably had as many accents as modern english. The Roman empire covered a huge area so it would have been spoken with north african accents, middle eastern accents, central & eastern european accents etc. Just like how modern english accents vary quite a bit depending on geography.
I doubt the differences were anywhere as remarkable as in the middle ages or later. The only reference I have come across regarding differences in pronunciation across the Roman empire is a passage from the not extremely reliable Historia Augusta on the life of Septimius Severus:

"Hic tam exiguis vestibus usus est ut vix et tunica eius aliquid purpurae haberet, cum hirta chlamyde umeros velaret. cibi parcissimus, leguminis patrii avidus, vini aliquando cupidus, carnis frequenter ignarus. ipse decorus, ingens, promissa barba, cano capite et crispo, vultu reverendus, canorus voce, sed Afrum quiddam usque ad senectutem sonans."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
There's this from Quintilian, which is more about class accent than about regional accent, I guess, though it could be both at the same time:


Prudenter enim qui, cum interrogasset rusticum testem an
Amphionem <nosset>, negante eo detraxit adspirationem
breuiauitque secundam eius nominis syllabam, et ille eum sic
optime norat.

(Excuse the weird formatting; it's always like this with PHI.)

I'm sure I've come across similar references elsewhere, too.


Anyway, I don't think there can be any doubt that there were different accents in Latin, as there are in any language that's spoken over a large area; what's more difficult to ascertain is how great the differences were.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I doubt the differences were anywhere as remarkable as in the middle ages or later.
They were probably not as great, at least among native speakers. It's only to be expected that accents will differ more among native speakers of different languages, who would have been the only Latin speakers in the middle ages and later.

I've shared this funny excerpt from Vox Latina a couple of times before, but I think it's worth quoting again here:


"One gains some idea of the unacceptability of various national pronunciations in the sixteenth century from Erasmus, who describes in his Dialogue how speakers from various countries delivered addresses in Latin to the Emperor Maximilian. A Frenchman read his speach 'adeo Gallice' that some Italians present thought he was speaking French; such was the laughter that the Frenchman broke off his speech in embarrassment, but even greater ridicule greeted the German accent of the next speaker; a Dane who followed 'sounded like a Scotsman', and next came a Zeelander - but, as Erasmus remarks, 'dejerasses neutrum loqui Latine'. Ursus here asks Leo, who tells the story, whether the Emperor himself was able to refrain from laughter; and Leo reassures him that he was, since 'assueverat huiusmodi fabulis'.

Erasmus says that in his day the best speakers of Latin came from Rome, but that the English were considered by the Italians to be the next best. This statement is sometimes quoted with some satisfaction in England; but it should be noted that Erasmus significantly qualifies the claim by the words 'secundum ipsos'. One has also to record the account given by another great scholar, Joseph Scaliger, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, regarding the Latin pronunciation of an English visitor: 'Anglorum vero etiam doctissimi tam prave Latine efferunt, ut... quum quidam ex ea gente per quadrantem horae integrum apud me verba fecisset, neque ego magis eum intellegerem, quam si Turcice loquutus fuisset, hominem rogaverim, ut excusatum me haberet, quod Anglice non bene intellegerem'."
 

Iáson

Cívis Illústris
Now that I think about it though, ancient latin probably had as many accents as modern english. The Roman empire covered a huge area so it would have been spoken with north african accents, middle eastern accents, central & eastern european accents etc. Just like how modern english accents vary quite a bit depending on geography.
There was certainly regional variation in the pronunciation of Latin in antiquity. There is a 746 page long study of the subject by Adams (The Regional Diversification of Latin 200BC-AD600), if you're interested in the topic.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The best horror story I ever read in Latin was Pacifica's version of Vathecus, available here.
Did you mean to post this in another thread?

Thanks for the compliment, anyway.
 
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