Someone emailed me recently. She wanted to know how to pronounce the Latin alphabet.
I should have sent her this:
Yep. You read that correctly. That is how you pronounce the Italian alphabet. Correct. And, that is also how the catholic church pronounces the Latin alphabet. They have been speaking Latin since the days of the Caesars. In fact, they are the organization that preserved Latin. Seems we could give them a little respect.
Sometime after the Renaissance, Latin pronunciation was “restored”. Think about that. How do you “restore” an ancient pronunciation. In the end, you are left with speculation and guesswork. Sure, some of it is good. But, in the end, it is speculation and guesswork. No one alive knows for sure how Latin sounded back then.
I will be moving to Italy in a year or so to learn Italian. Why? Because I teach Latin. I teach Latin with an Italian pronunciation and will continue to do so. I need to improve. Ergo, Italy.
We really should be listening to two groups when it comes to Latin pronunciation. We should be listening to the Catholic Church and we should be listening to the Italians. We should not be listening to Ivory tower academics about their precious “restored” pronunciation.
Besides, if we listen to the Catholics, they provide us with a multi-hour, free, dramatized audio book we can listen too while we learn to pronounce Latin.
Here it is as an app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/biblium+-latin/id489936771?mt=8
Here it is for your computer: http://www.bible.is/LTNNVV/Matt/1
The academic crowd will provide us with an introduction to their book. There we will find the alphabet and some written instruction on pronunciation. Wait… what?
Please. Get serious academia. Show me your multi-hour, free, dramatized audio book and I will consider your “restored” pronunciation.
Wanna learn to pronounce Latin? Get some help from the Italians. Get some help from the Catholic Church. Get some help from the people who preserved Latin for us.