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I know there are several different ways to pronounce Latin. I think no one sings classical music using Classical Latin pronunciation in which, for instance, "c" is pronounced as /k/. I believe the reason is that, during the Medieval era, Latin has evolved so that its pronunciation has changed all around Europe.

However, I've noticed that music ensembles that play Early Music based on a historically informed approach tend to use different pronunciations of that used in nowadays Ecclesiastical Latin. For instance, it's quite usual to hear "c" before "e" pronounced as /ks/ in words such as "luceat eis" or "excelsis" instead of the /tʃ/ nowadays Ecclesiastical pronunciation, but I believe (I'm not sure about that: this is one of the reasons for my question) there are Early Music ensembles that use alternative pronunciations based on regional differences. I've also heard the "qui" of "requiem" pronounced in several different ways.

Can anyone give an introductory overview to that phenomenon?

  • Here you can find some interesting examples of several different ways to pronounce Latin based on a historically informed approach: jandrewowen.com/en/category/language/latin. – Charo Mar 18 '17 at 23:49
  • Related question – guidot Mar 19 '17 at 12:26
  • In my opinion there are these possible pronounciations for luceat: 1) /k/ (current view, how Latin was spoken), 2) /ts/ (old view, how Latin was spoken), 3) /tʃ/ (Italian style, debatable for Latin, but wide-spread). – guidot Mar 19 '17 at 12:34
  • @guidot: I've seen it, but I'm not sure if that question refers to nowadays Eclessiastical Latin, that is the Latin as it's pronounced in the Vatican. – Charo Mar 19 '17 at 12:43
  • @guidot: I think there are other possible pronunciations of "c": /s/ or /θ/ (in Spanish Latin after the XVI century according to this article). – Charo Mar 19 '17 at 12:55
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Yes, many ensembles do pay attention to differences in Latin pronunciation at different times and places. The classic (and only really comprehensive) guide is Harold Copeman's Singing in Latin, or Pronunciation Explor'd, 1990, which is out of print but possibly available used. I haven't found any online resources yet for historical pronunciation. There's an overview of modern regional Latin pronunciation at wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_regional_pronunciation

  • Thank you for mentioning Harold Copeman's book, Singing in Latin, or Pronunciation Explor'd: I didn't know of its existence. Looking for information about this book, I've discovered this website, which I find very interesting. – Charo Mar 19 '17 at 14:16
  • I think that one of the ensembles that pay particular attention to this kind of things is Gabrieli Consort and Players, directed by Paul McCreesh. This morning I've been listening to some of its recordings and you can really appreciate differences in pronunciation of Latin when performing pieces by different composers. – Charo Mar 19 '17 at 15:23
  • @Charo- you're welcome. I, too, was able to find tidbits of information online, but nothing as comprehensive as Copeman's book, which I have in an old photocopy. Of course, a lot of the reconstructed pronunciations are more or less speculative, but that's true of many aspects of performance practice for early music. – Scott Wallace Mar 19 '17 at 20:20

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