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How To Pronounce Latin

Latin is a classic language that has been spoken since the earliest period in Roman history, and although it no longer has any native speakers, Latin is still one of the most important cultural languages in the world. Its influence is manifest in the words of numerous modern languages, including English. Throughout its long history, many different types and dialects of Latin have arisen, with two of the most common variations being Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin.

Classical Latin was once the literary standard for Roman writers and was used by famous Roman authors such as Cicero. Many grammar and Latin classes teach a form of Classical Latin, which is commonly used by those who read and study Classical Greek and Roman literature.

Ecclesiastical Latin is also known as “Church Latin,” in part because it was initially developed to promulgate Christianity and the Bible, and in part because it is still the official language of Christian institutions like the Catholic Church. It was developed after Classical Latin and deliberately drew on the language spoken by common Roman citizens to help the Catholic Church reach out to the masses.

There are some key differences between the two types of Latin, including variations in pronunciation and style. One of the biggest distinctions between the two is that vowels in Ecclesiastical are always long, but Classical Latin has both long and short sounds for all its vowels. As another example of the nuances of these Latin variations, the consonant ‘v’ is always pronounced as [w] in Classical, but in Ecclesiastical Latin the ‘v’ retains its [v] sound. Further, the consonant C is always a hard sound [k] in Classical, so because he used Classical Latin, Cicero’s name would have been pronounced [kikero].

Today, both types of Latin are commonly used, although in some situations one may be considered more appropriate than another. For example, if you took a Latin course in high school or college, chances are high that you were taught the Classical pronunciation of Latin. If you sang Latin motets in a choir, however, you most likely used the Ecclesiastical pronunciation as these musical works stem from the Catholic faith.

Our IPA transcription app allows you to choose whether you want to use Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation.

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