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world, any one of these, even that of Italy, we could not hope for general acceptance.
But why should there be such difference of opinion concerning the pronunciation of Latin? The original orthoepy should not be lost; for in the palmy days of Latin literature there were grammarians who wrote extended treatises. In these they discussed the sounds of all the letters, and the variations between the long and short sounds of the vowels. And some of these writers even went so far as to describe the exact position of the organs in uttering each letter. Of late years the writings of these ancient authors have been hunted up. The eminent Schneider, in his “ Elements of the Latin Language, gives the results of his elaborate investigations, and makes quotations from fifty different authorities. Thus we can go back to the root of the matter, and know what was the pronunciation of Rome's great orators and sublime philosophers. Thereby the true and original system has been resurrected from the débris of the past, and is brought before us of the nineteenth century as the Roman method. And it seeks to displace all other systems and to find universal acceptance.
Before considering the merits of this system, let us inquire how it came to be lost. It could not be otherwise than by the gradual corruptions, introduced from time to time, by teachers in the different countries.
In the course of thirteen centuries it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that many changes might be made by those teachers who thought they might improve the Latin, or assimilate it to their native tongue, and thus give what, in their opinion, was a more natural pronunciation. The scholar of Berlin or of Paris is amused at the corruptions made by the American or the Englishman in his pronunciation of German and French. And we, in turn, laugh at the brogue of the German and the Frenchman; and yet we are willing to anglicize the Latin without any hesitation, and expect to be regarded as scholars even when we do this. How inconsistent and unscholarly is such a practice!
By examining into the history of this matter we find that the old pronunciation of Latin, introduced into England long before the Norman conquest, was retained for several hundred years, and substantially existed in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries; and that about this time there was an effort made to corrupt it which was deplored and denounced by many of the Latinists of England.
Milton, the most eminent classical scholar of his day, the Latin secretary to the council, in a letter to Mr. Hartlib on the subject of education, makes some suggestions to him about teaching the scholars of his model school:
Their speech is to be fashioned to a distinct and clear pronunciation, as near as possible, to the Italian, especially in vowels. For we Englishmen, being far northerly, do not open our mouths in the cold air wide enough to grace a Southern tongue, but are observed by all other nations to speak exceeding close and inward; 80 that to smatter Latin with an English tongue is as ill a bearing as low French.
Mr. Phillips, the tutor to several of the princes royal, and one of the ablest scholars of the eighteenth century, in his work on “Methods of Teaching,” published in 1750, complains of the “very faulty and unpleasant manner in which the Englishmen were beginning to pronounce Latin." Dr. Foster, contemporaneous with the latter, in his “Essay on Accent and Quantity,” complains of the “violence done to the quantity of the ancient languages by the English pronunciation.” Mitford, in his “ Inquiry into the Principles and Harmony of Language," published at the close of the eighteenth century, points out the “absurdity of introducing into Latin the eccentric pronunciation of the English.” He represents its incompatibility with the true quantity of syllables, and proposes the restoration of the ancient sounds of the vowels as in the Italian. But it is only of late years that any special effort has been made to re-introduce the old system. The advantages claimed for the Roman method are substantially as follows: First, it is the true system, and hence in perfect harmony with the genius and structure of the language. Second, it is the only one that we may expect will ever be generally adopted, because it is not mixed and corrupted with other nationalities, but stands out alone and unique. And all can adopt it without compromising any national peculiarities. Third, it always distinguishes words of different orthography and signification by their sounds, while the English very often does not. Take, for example, the following words : Censeo, censio, and sentio; or cervus and servus ;
or cicer and siser; cella and sella ; citus and situs ; scis, and sis, and cis; amici and amisi; or circulus and surculus. By the Roman method every one of the preceding words are uttered with an individual pronunciation, so that when you say censeo it cannot be misunderstood for censio or sentio. And when you speak of a servus it cannot be thought to be a
And certainly this is an advantage in any language. Fourth, this system throws much light on the subject of Latin versification, and is the only one on which Latin poetry can be correctly read. As well might we undertake to recite the poems of Shakespeare and Milton, Bryant and Longfellow, according to French principles of pronunciation, as to read the Odes of Horace or the Eclogues of Virgil with purely Anglo-Saxon sounds. Let some French scholar try this, and he will see how he would thus spoil, yes, ruin, English poetry. Why, then, shall we persist in butchering the Latin poets? Fifth, it facilitates the study of comparative philology. The corruption of Latin pronunciation has isolated the Latin from its kindred languages. To see this plainly, let us compare the Latin and Greek. Various words in the two languages are substantially the same in spelling and in meaning. Take, for instance, the following Latin words, with their English pronunciation, and compare them with the corresponding Greek words: Accetis (a-see-tis) akoLTiS.
Cicero (sis-ser-o) Kikepuv.
Scipio (sip-i-o) EKLTUV.
Oceanus (o-shee-a-nus) Sneavos.
Cilicia (sil-ish-i-a) Kiaukia. All the above Latin words, pronounced by the Roman method, would be recognized by the Greek scholar as of kindred origin with the Greek word on the same line. In fact, all the vowels, diphthongs, and consonants in the above words are, by the Roman method, uttered just the same in both languages.
But let us inquire into the Roman method more particularly. Many of the consonants have the same sounds as in English. There are, however, some peculiarities. No consonant has more than one sound. The digraph qu has the sound of k in king ; c and k always have the same sound as k in king; g is uttered as in get; j as y in yet; & as 8 in son ; t as t in time, and
v as w in we. All of the vowels have two sounds, and two only. They are as follows: ā as a in father.
o as o in holy. ă as a in idea.
o as o in obey. ē as e in they.
ů as u in rule. ě as e in net.
ŭ as u in full, and i as i in machine.
y has the i sound when used as a i as i in holiest.
true vowel. There is thus but really one sound to each vowel and two lengths of it. In ā the sound is prolonged, in ă it is clipped. No merely English scholar will be surprised at these sounds, for they are of every-day use in pronouncing our native tongue; the peculiarity consists in limiting these letters to these sounds. For we have in English seven sounds of a, five of e, four of i, eight of o, five of u, five of c, and two of g, s, and t. How much more simple, euphonious, and beautiful is the old Latin than the modern English!
But when we come to speak of the diphthongal sounds we fancy the unclassical scholar will rebel. They are as follows:
ae and ai as the English pronoun I. ui as the pronoun we.
ei as ei in veil.
eu as eh-oo, two sounds, yet uttered
very nearly at once. All these are in use to-day in the languages of southern Europe—those most closely connected with the tongue of Cicero. Yet we English people say that the Roman method is harsh and rough in its sounds. Perhaps we may find this to be largely a judgment of the imagination. William Cullen Bryant, one of the finest classical scholars that the New World has produced, in an article published as an editorial some three or four years ago in the New York Evening Post, makes an incidental reference to this matter in the following words:
The whole force of reason lies on the side of this Roman method of pronunciation.
Once generally adopted, its harshness—which, after all, is no greater than that of Greekwill cease to be thought of. The absurdity of objection on this ground will appear to any one whose ear has ever caught the mellifluous flow of Homer's grand old Greek, or of Anacreon's lyrics, polished, perfect, and musical.
One of the most prominent Latin teachers that ever occupied a college chair, Professor J. F. Richardson, of Rochester
University, New York, says to those disposed to ridicule the peculiarities of the Roman method :
As well might a rude Thracian have laughed at the polished discourse of the sage of the Athenian academy, as well might a driveling, reeling inebriate, meeting a sober and upright man, fancy him to be the stammering staggerer and sneer at his really clear speech and steady gait, as for an English Latinist to cast ridicule upon the pronunciation of a Roman Latinist.
Another able scholar, the late Robert Kelly, LL.D., in referring to the Roman pronunciation, uses very strong language:
'Tis better to give to Scipio and to Cicero the names by which they were known in the flesh, and which they have invested in immortal glory-far better all these changes—than to turn the Roman senate into a mass of hissing serpents.
He thus refers to our pronouncing Scipio sip-i-o, Cicero siser-o, and Cæsar see-zar, which names these great Romans never would have recognized as their own as they are pronounced by the English scholar of to-day.
But is there any probability that this Roman system will be generally adopted? We believe it is only a question of time. It is already used to quite an extent on the continent of Europe and in England. One of the professors of Latin at Oxford has prepared a “Syllabus of Latin Pronunciation," in which he has introduced this system.
The Rev. E. B. Mayor, M.A., Professor of Latin in the University of Cambridge, tells to what extent the new (if we may call it new) pronunciation is used, and how esteemed in that great English institution :
There is, I think, no great difference of opinion here in regard to the principles of Latin pronunciation ; even the w sound of v is secure from ridicule. In practice there is great diversity. Many schools adopt the new pronunciation in the higher forms only, which seems like beginning at the wrong end. However, the result is that the proportion of those who are familiar with the new pronunciation on entering the university is continually increasing. The old mumpsimus, both in respect to orthography and pronunciation, is doomed, and no longer ventures to put in a plea in arrest of execution. If American scholars accept the reform, we may hope that, in the next generation, all Englishspeaking Latinists will be intelligible to their colleagues all over the world.