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Crispina

How to pronounce Roman names

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Posting my "dumbness". But when reading novels set in Roman times, I have a hard time figuring out how to pronounce most characters' names. Some seem fairly obvious, but others look as though they could be pronounced three different ways! Are their any simple "rules" of pronunciation when it comes to proper names? or do I have to learn Latin? :no2:

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I'm with you on this one, Crispina, and not just with names. 99% of Latin words I've come across were written down, rather than spoken. But quite often you hear other people say them, and they don't match the word in my head. Then someone else says it, and, hey presto, a third pronounciation.

 

Can I request Gaius Julius Ceasar as an example? Is the way we all read it, and hear it on the telly, how it should be pronounced?

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I truly enjoy this website: Ohio State Latin Grammar. They have a very good, and I would say accurate, description on most everything regarding the Latin language...including links to various pronunciation guides! And, of course, they link to The Perseus Project, which has Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges.

 

Important elements to remember for English speakers:

--C/G: always 'hard' (as in 'cat' and 'garage')--so Caesar wouldn't be [si zɚ] (or whatever that last syllable would be in your dialect); it would be closer to [kaj saɾ]--think Spanish or Italian on that one.

--J: Didn't actually exist as a letter; usually was spelled with an I, and as such usually was pronounced as the semi-vowel/consonant [j] (aka like a 'y'). So Julius = [ju lʲus]

--V: not surprisingly, it sounded like the semi-vowel/consonant [w]. So 'victor' = [wik toɾ]

 

Otherwise, think closer to Italian (or perhaps Sardinian) pronunciation: if the second to last syllable contains a long vowel or is closed (CVC), then that's where the primary stress is. If not, then it would be the syllable beforehand.

 

One last note: this is Classical Latin pronunciation...not Vulgar Latin. We don't really know how the 'commoners' spoke, only guesses and reconstructions. So this is how Cicero ([ki ke ɾo] spoke, probably...but not necessarily the dude on the corner selling fruit, or the average solider in the army.

Edited by docoflove1974

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Thank you for posting the many informative links. I will have to browse them all.

 

Years ago, I attempted to teach myself Italian, from all manner of books on Italian grammar, yes the "Learn Italian" tapes, and even an interactive software program that was great. I bought Italian newspapers at the book store, workbooks, ect. One of my favorite books was a guide to Italian slang. ha I finally got to the point I could read and write the language fairly well, but when it came to speaking I was too shy to practice in public!

 

Anyway, I do remember most of the rules of pronunciation so that helps a little; but I realize it is not Latin.

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--C/G: always 'hard' (as in 'cat' and 'garage')--so Caesar wouldn't be [si zɚ] (or whatever that last syllable would be in your dialect); it would be closer to [kaj saɾ]--think Spanish or Italian on that one.

 

yeah germans turned Caesar into Kaiser [kaj saɾ]

 

...and there is always the Society of Oral Reading of Ancient Latin and Greek

http://www.rhapsodes.fll.vt.edu/Cicero/cicero.htm

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Thanks Guys - there's obviously lots to take on board.

 

I'm going to use this opportunity to ask a cheeky favour. It'd be great for me, proffessionally, if I actually knew how to pronounce all the Latin names of the forts along Hadrian's Wall (properly). Comments on the following would be welcome.

 

Arbeia: My guess is 'Ar' - 'BAYer' (to rhyme with 'sayer' as in 'soothsayer'). Stress on the 'bay'

 

Segedunum: Say - Gay - DOON - oom

 

Condercum: Con - DER - coom

 

Vindobala: Window - BAR - la

 

Onnum: On - oom

 

Cilernum: Key - LEARN - oom (I've also heard it start with a first syllable rhyming with 'eye')

 

Vircovicium: Work - oh - WE - see - oom

 

Aesica: I - SEEK - a (I've heard this one pronounded EE - sick

Edited by GhostOfClayton

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I also have found this a problem. In addition, if I am writing about this for a general audience, I struggle with perhaps changing a name to make it smoother for the reader.

 

As readers, what solution would you like?

Name changed in the whole book with an end note of the proper name?

Phoentically spelling it out the first time it appears in a novel? (won't that pull you out of the story)

Leave it as is; and let the reader create their own sound in their mind and stick with it - even though it is most likely in error?

 

A better solution ?

 

thanks.

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I also have found this a problem. In addition, if I am writing about this for a general audience, I struggle with perhaps changing a name to make it smoother for the reader.

 

As readers, what solution would you like?

Name changed in the whole book with an end note of the proper name?

Phoentically spelling it out the first time it appears in a novel? (won't that pull you out of the story)

Leave it as is; and let the reader create their own sound in their mind and stick with it - even though it is most likely in error?

 

A better solution ?

 

thanks.

 

My view is 'stick to your guns' and spell it as it should be spelled (though not going so far as to replace Us with Vs, Js with Is, Gs with Cs, etc.). The reader will have their own pronunciation in their mental commentary throughout the book. If they're an educated Latinista, that may well be different from (a.) a ley reader, and (b.) any other educated Latinista. I wouldn't fall into the trap of patronising your readership by giving them a Latin pronunciation lesson (whether they need/want it or not).

 

PS Don't use the word 'Latinista' - I think i may have made it up.

Edited by GhostOfClayton

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PS Don't use the word 'Latinista' - I think i may have made it up.

 

 

Ha ha I won't - as you said about the mental workings of the reader .... when you say Latinista, I see a slightly large, lovely, reddish haired Mexican type woman - who is beautiful, but won't engage her brain and runs on emotions. Not at all what I picture for ancient Romans. ha ha

 

 

Seriously - thanks for that input - as I am struggling now with this issue, and my gut was to go with the names as they are (using our current alphabet).

 

As you can tell, I am new here - can anyone tell me how to upload an avatar picture to my profile? I can edit some, but not that area of my profile. thanks.

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I think you need to have had 5 or 10 posts before you're able to iconicise yourself. Viggen will clarify, and no doubt point you in the direction of some text describing how it all works (if he reads this).

 

PS Probably best to steer clear of 'iconicise' as well. Use 'avatarate'.

Edited by GhostOfClayton

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PS Probably best to steer clear of 'iconicise' as well. Use 'avatarate'.

 

Leave the word creation to the linguists...it's our job! (BTW, this linguist approves of the above terms hammer.gif )

 

 

 

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When it comes to Latin pronunciation, here's my 50 cents. It's a very enlightening video. :P

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-l4uoistRg&feature=related

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Oh my goddess - I didn't mean to YELL that part - I actually meant to make it smaller.

 

ha on me. I be patient and wait to 'avatarate'.

 

I loved the video .... I have been irritated that seeming all the U.S. productions on Rome give the Romans an English accent. Blah.

 

thanks all for this fun introduction into UNRV.

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I loved the video!

 

When I took Latin I remember asking my professor how we knew how to pronounce it and he said texts survived with pronounciation lessons (though I didn't see them so can't cite them). Anyway here are my comments (for what they're worth keeping in mind I'm Canadian and don't understand why you have inserted "r's" into the words :D) on pronounciations that Ghost of Clayton put up:

 

Arbeia: My guess is 'Ar' - 'BAYer' (to rhyme with 'sayer' as in 'soothsayer'). Stress on the 'bay'

- I would say Ar-BAY-a

 

Segedunum: Say - Gay - DOON - oom

- sounds good

 

Condercum: Con - DER - coom

- con-der-COOM

 

Vindobala: Window - BAR - la

- win-dow-BA-la

 

Onnum: On - oom

- sounds good

 

Cilernum: Key - LEARN - oom (I've also heard it start with a first syllable rhyming with 'eye')

- I think I'd go with the eye sound

 

Vircovicium: Work - oh - WE - see - oom

- Wir-co-we-KEY-oom

 

Aesica: I - SEEK - a (I've heard this one pronounded EE - sick

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