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Old November 9th, 2012, 09:56 AM   #1
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Public School Latin Pronunciation.


In David Copperfield Mrs Micawber refers to her father's frequently saying 'Experientia does it'. Clearly this is 'experientia docet', and suggests that the 'c' was then pronounced 's'. My Latin teacher reckons that such old Latin saws were pronounced as if they were English, and certainly the 'traditional' Latin pronunciation, at least in the English public schools, was not only remarkably unlike what we are taught now but,on the evidence of Church Latin, unlike what was normal on the Continent. Does anyone know when this unlikeness began (presumably when the Church here was under the Pope Latin here was standard)? Did it happen as a result of the Reformation? The Tudor grammar schools? What? Any information gratefully received.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #2

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There is a Wiki article on the matter:
Traditional_English_pronunciation_of_Latin Traditional_English_pronunciation_of_Latin

As it points out, the traditional English pronunciation has been preserved in legal and medical terminology, and some names etc., so one can reconstruct it from that. Thus the c in 'biceps' is pronounced as an s.

When I was at school, some time before the flood, the reconstructed ancient pronunciation was used, but with some reservations. It was felt, for instance, that to pronounce Latin v as w (weeny weedy weaky) would be a bit over the top for an Englishman, like referring to Munich as München.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 10:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Linschoten View Post
There is a Wiki article on the matter:
Traditional English pronunciation of Latin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As it points out, the traditional English pronunciation has been preserved in legal and medical terminology, and some names etc., so one can reconstruct it from that. Thus the c in 'biceps' is pronounced as an s.

When I was at school, some time before the flood, the reconstructed ancient pronunciation was used, but with some reservations. It was felt, for instance, that to pronounce Latin v as w (weeny weedy weaky) would be a bit over the top for an Englishman, like referring to Munich as München.
Thanks - the article, though, doesn't aswer the 'Church' point, and there must have been a fairly large transfer of at least senior clerics from country to country, as of monks. The medical and legal point is well taken, and I was more or less aware of it. The question of special 'national' pronunciations reads back into the days of Rome itself, I think, for there seems little evidence of sneering at accents from distant provinces, at least in the surviving literature, so it is odd that such a thing should develop if people were learning it as a dead and essentially 'foreign' tongue. Perhaps I need to rethink the function of Latin and people's attitudes to it in later times.

When I was in school they sounded the 'v' as 'w', but with a sort of wry smile.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 12:26 PM   #4

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I was always taught that the 'c' was always pronounced the same as 'k'.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #5
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I was always taught that the 'c' was always pronounced the same as 'k'.
Yes, so was I - but clearly they weren't always teaching that. I'm interested in what causes such changes, and in who, if anyone, acts as the 'model' when it is not the local parish priest.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 10:33 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belisarius View Post
I was always taught that the 'c' was always pronounced the same as 'k'.
As did I, it was certainly how I was taught, both at school (a public one) and then university.



A result of the development of the field of linguistics?
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