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Re: Re: phonetic pronunciation

In a message dated 2/22/05 8:54:52 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
neilm@charter.net writes:

<< Actually, Anner, quite a lot is known about how Latin in classical times 
 pronounced.  Poetry in latin used certain metrical rhythms and other poetical
 devices, well known because there are extant treatises about the matter,
 written in Classical times.>>

Yes, all this is certainly true. 

We can indeed extrapolate certain rules and apparent conventions from the 
surviving contemporary literature and treatises upon literature--even including, 
pace Plato, poetry-- and arrive at a body of more or less informed conjectures 
and reconstructions, and then through some convenient agency of authority or 
consensus promulgate as definitive a set of rules for a classical Latin, but 
that is not, I suggest, quite the same as hearing the language spoken, whether 
in some elite, learned, or vernacular form out of what were surely many forms, 
by a native speaker or speakers, whatever that may be understood to mean in 
the context of the Roman Empire, at some point in its long history. 
<< I cringe at most pronunciations.....>>

I carry no brief for one set of rules over another. As long as I can tell 
what someone is trying to communicate I consider their pronunication adequate and 
I beg the courtesy of the return of the favor. 

<< One area where Latin is still used and studied is in the Roman Catholic
 Church.  Two thousand years of use, however, has brought with it a rather
 strong drift away from the Latin of Julius Caesar >>

Indeed? A strong drift? I wonder if that also happened among all those 
derivative languages which served scholars as sources of the "common elements" for 
the reconstruction of a "canonical" Latin pronunciation. Excluding, of course, 


Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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