In the NYT, Jon Grinspan...

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 13 08:55:13 UTC 2012

DanG: <<<Does anyone actually know how Latin was pronounced? By the ancient
Romans, I mean...   ... So, I take the answer here to be "no".>>>
WB: Oh God! (If there is a God.) Latin to Romance is about as perfect a
model for language evolution as we are going to get. You have to put YES
and NO on opposite ends of a sliding scale. Knowledge of "ancient" Latin
pronunciation will be as close to a 100% YES as you can find. Of course,
what do you mean by "ancient"? The earliest inscriptions, based on a
particular variant of the Greek alphabet filtered through Etruscan
intermediaries, give a fairly distorted transcription. Archaic Latin (the
law codes), Vulgar Latin (Plautus), Classical (Caesar, Cicero). Okay, stop
there. Throw in some classical poets and you've got vowel length. I think
Buck claimed there was a pitch accent (a French idea). Answer: YES, we
think we know how Classical Latin was pronounced. I can demonstrate.
Where's your nickel?

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list