[Loyola University Chicago]

Pronouncing Latin

(Restored Classical Pronunciation, In a Nutshell)

It's a lot like English, only much more consistent.

Try: (sentences from Peter V. Jones and Keith C. Sidwell, Reading Latin [Cambridge University Press 1986])

familia Eucliōnis fa-MI-li-a eu-cli-OH-niss
quis es tū? kwiss ess tue?
ego sum Eucliō. E-go sum EU-cli-oh.
senex sum. SE-nex sum.

Consonants: just like English, with very few exceptions:

c always hard, like k can cēlō KEH-loh
ch hard k sound plus an h-like little puff of air back-hoe pulcher POOL-k+her
g always hard g get igitur I-gi-toor
"semivocalic" i before a(nother) vowel, mostly only at the start of a word, y young iānua YAH-noo-a
ph regular p sound plus an h-like little puff of air tap-hammer strophiārius stro-p+hi-AH-ri-ooss
q always followed by "semivocalic" u (see below); together, they sound like kw queen quis KWISS
s always unvoiced s hiss omnēs OM-nehss
th regular t sound plus an h-like little puff of air hot-head thēsaurus t+heh-SAU-rooss
"semivocalic" u
(also printed with a pointy bottom, v)
before a(nother) vowel, anywhere in a word, w win ualdē

Vowels: come in short or long (printed texts, when they mark long vowels, typically use a straight line over the vowel, called a "macron" -Greek for "long", since ancient Romans modeled their grammatical theory after ideas Greek scholars had worked out)
short the basic sound of the vowel as in long the same vowel-sound, for twice the time as in
a between English hard short a and momentary conversational uh alike ā thoughtful ah father
e English hard short e get ē long interrogative eh, close to American long a they
i English hard short i sit ī close to English long e machine
o English short o hot ō English long o home
u English short oo put ū English long oo; never any initial y-sound super
y a rare vowel in Latin; combines English long oo and ih, as in French u or German ü tu (Fr.); über (Ger.) ŷ likewise rare; still combining English long oo and ih, for a longer time tu (Fr.); über (Ger.), with emphasis

Diphthongs: two vowels sounded together; Latin uses fewer than English
ae ah-eh, compressed, yields the sound of English long i aisle aedēs AI-dehss
au ah-oo, compressed, is one of the sounds English makes with ou or ow out aurum OW-room
ei eh-ih, compressed, yields the sound of English long a reign deinde DAYN-de
eu eh-oo, compressed, yields the sound made in some parts of Canada for ou; American doesn't use this sound much house (hewse) eheu E-heoo
oe oh-ih, compressed, yields the sound of English or Yiddish oy boil coe COY-pih

a single consonant is sounded with the vowel that follows it, unless it's the last sound of the word and there's no other place for it ha-bi-tat
a double consonant splits to sound one with the following vowel, one with the previous vowel ("closing" the preceding syllable) pa-ter-fa-mi-li-ās
the combination of "mute" (unvoiced consonant: c, p, t) FOLLOWED BY "liquid" (l or r) MAY or MAY NOT "close" the syllable as a double consonant māt-ri-MŌ-ni-um or

Word-accent: the Rule of the Penult
"penult" means the second-to-last syllable of a word (because it is "almost-the-ultimate" syllable, from Latin paene, "almost," + ultima, "the last")
if the penult is "short", as a syllable (see further below), the word-accent goes on the syllable before it, the "antepenult" (literally, "before the second-to-last" syllable) paterfamiliās pa-ter-fa-MI-li-ahss
if the penult is "long", as a syllable (see further below), the word-accent goes on the penult cognōvī cog-NOH-wih
a syllable is "long" if: it contains a long vowel cognōvī cog-NOH-wih
it contains a dipthong: dipthongs, as double vowels, are naturally sounded a longer time Dēmaenetus Deh-MAI-ne-tooss
it contains a short vowel but is "closed" by having two (or more) consonants or the double-consonant x (=ks) follow the vowel appropinq ap-pro-PIN-kwoh
a syllable is "short" if: it contains a short vowel and is "open" (not "closed") hominum HO-mi-noom


BACK to LATN 101 homepage

Loyola Homepage Classical Studies Department Find Loyolans Loyola Site Index

Loyola University Chicago

Revised 30 July 2010 by jlong1@luc.edu