What Are Some Common Pronunciation Errors in Latin?


Quick Answer

Modern speakers learning Classical Latin encounter several problems frequently, including confusion about how to pronounce the letters "v" and "c" and about using aspirated consonants. Often modern speakers fall into patterns of the speakers' own languages or pronounce Latin like Italian, as the languages are much alike.

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An example of the Latin "v" is the greeting "salve," pronounced "salwe." An example of the Latin "c" is "Caesar," pronounced "kaisar." An additional challenge for English speakers occurs because English adds a breathy "h" sound to some consonants, particularly "b." For example, "neighbors" has a soft "bh" sound. In Latin, the sound of "b" is closest to "p," in which "urbs" becomes "urps."

The difficultly compounds because there are two methods of Latin pronunciation still in use: Classical Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin. Latin is still the language of the Catholic church. Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation is much like Italian, as the language has evolved from its continued use in the church. Latin that students learn in school follows Classical Latin rules.

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