Sunday, February 12

How NOT to Speak Latin - A PSA

I'm often displeased by the way Latin is pronounced not only by students of the language, but especially by Latin teachers, scholars, and Classicists. It's one thing to make an effort and come up short on certain sounds; it's another thing to butcher up the language, and read it as if it were [insert your native language here].

I will let the video I created make the point — a  public service announcement by yours truly, followed by a performance, reading Catullus 3 in authentic Latin, along with an English translation.

What's different about this particular reading is my inclusion of the Latin pitch accent. The Roman grammarians in the Classical period wrote about the pitch accent, and their testimony is the evidence we have that it existed during that time. Its introduction is theorized to have been influenced by the pitch accent in Ancient Greek, and was used exclusive by the educated classes when speaking publicly; the popular speech retained the normal stress accent.

Just listen to the musicality of Latin when read properly — respecting meter, vowel quality and quantity, stress, and pitch — its connection to modern Italian is even more apparent.

1 comment:

John Cowan said...

Typo in the titles: obsure for obscure.

Two carps: I don't think all those final esses were still being pronounced in Catullus's day, and I think you should have asked the people buffing the floor to wait until after working hours — it was distracting.

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