Translate this page:   العربية   Deutsch   ελληνικά   title="Spanish"Español   فارسی   Français   Italiano   עברית   日本語   한국어   Nederlands   Polski   Portuguese   русский   украї́нська   Türkçe   中文

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Correct Latin Pronunciation?

If you cannot abide pedantry then please do not read this post. You have been warned.

For many people attending the Latin Mass, who like myself studied Latin at school, the pronunciation will seem quite different, even clumsy, to that which we were taught in school. Contemporary ecclesiastical Latin usually has a marked Italian accent. However this is quite different from how Latin was originally spoken. For instance one can note the following major points of difference - C is pronounced as K in classical Latin, whereas in ecclesiastical Latin it can be pronounced as 'K', 'CH' or 'S'.Likewise the letter V is pronounced as W in classical Latin but as V in ecclesiastical Latin.
My,very pedantic point would be rather than accepting a difference between classical and ecclesiastical Latin, if there is a correct pronunciation maybe it should be followed. Classical Latin being the elder of the two would point towards it being the more authoritative and therefore the better pronunciation to employ. Admittedly this might sound rather strange to many ears - 'Gloria in Exkelsis' rather than 'Gloria in Exchelsis'or Salwe Regina Mater Miserikordiae, Wita Dulkedo rather than Salve Rejina Mater miserikordiae, vita dulchedo.

Yes it does sound pretty strange to what we're used to at Mass and it is a harder sound than the Italianate pronunciation but I think it's worth consideration.
Kikero or Sisero?

Comments [9]

Blogger Liturgeist:


wiwificamus just sounds silly.

Personal opinion...

Wed Mar 01, 06:56:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Liturgeist:

Oh, and Chichero, surely?

Wed Mar 01, 08:08:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Perpétua:

Oh, Ecclesiastical Latin, please! It is so much more suited to prayer. I don't like the ae pronounced 'i' rather than 'a'. It is a wonderful post, though! Ecclesiastical Latin in the temple, Classical in the Classics :)

Wed Mar 01, 09:51:00 PM GMT  
Blogger roydosan:

Chicero? He'll be turning in his grave at that one!!

How did the conducting go Liturgeist?

Wed Mar 01, 10:36:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Boeciana:

Antiquarianism of the worst post-conciliar sort!

But seriously, given that liturgical Latin lives viva voce, why worry? There isn't one correct pronunciation; there have always been local usages. The only oddity at present is that Anglophones tend to use Italianate pronunciation rather than something more consonant with their own tongue (compare the Germans and Spaniards). I suppose this is partly an aspect of the whole Counter-Reformation-uniformity thing, and partly a result of the necessity of education abroad for priests who were to serve in Britain, and hence a loss of native liturgical tradition. (Speculation only!) If one looks at late medieval Scottish documents written by clerks without that much education (as so many of you do, I know...), one can see a local pronunciation coming through - michi for mihi and nichil for nihil, even deset for decet and suchlike. Using classical pronunciation would be like insisting upon adopting (what we know of) echt sixteenth-century English accents for every production of Shakespeare (which would make them all sound like a cross between Americans and The Archers, I believe). Liturgical Latin is alive! Don't petrify her!

That said, Kikero is fair enough if he and his chums probably pronounced it that way. The liturgy doesn't mention him too often, though, as far as I know...

Thu Mar 02, 11:56:00 AM GMT  
Blogger Eamonn:

The much famed Dr Adrian Fortescue (the Eastern Church scholar and - unofficial - patron saint of Old Rite MCs) always used the "restored pronunciation" and never the classical. For all that I think live and let live is a good motto here; once the you get the words right, the pronunciation or even the accent is surely secondary?

Fri Mar 03, 01:34:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Juan:

Pronounce it like it were English. Perhaps not to the extent of Be-ne-die-si-tee, but we can't really pull off the Italian pronunciation, so I'd prefer something that sounded more natural.

Mon Mar 06, 01:51:00 AM GMT  
Blogger Boeciana:

But if one were pronouncing it like English, wouldn't one say be-ne-di-site?!

Mon Mar 06, 12:51:00 PM GMT  
Blogger Juan:

Since the accent falls on the di it tends to become a long vowel in English.

It's all there on BBC's Choral Evensong.

To further complicate matters, the restituted pronunciation is supposedly that of the lettered class (or parts thereof) of the first century BC/AD. The Christian texts were written later, and with a more diverse audience, and thus lectors, in a wider geographical spread. In any case, the vulgate pronunciation pronunciation of the time had elements not unforeign to our Romance languages. So should we speak like Senator Cicero or Joe Deacon from Ostia?

Wed Mar 08, 05:22:00 AM GMT  

Post a Comment

<< Home