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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

There is no Classical vs Ecclesiastical

I've seen a few posts in the sentence discussions deriding the use of the Classical pronunciation, calling the Ecclesiastical more natural or living. People firing back are making equally silly claims.

I use both, a value both. If you want to debate phonology, or discuss how the Classical pronunciation was reconstructed, feel free to do so on the main Latin forum. Can we please keep it civil and mature? Saying one "sound stupid!" reminds me of my thirteen year old nephew arguing with his friend over Xbox vs Playstation.

The most important thing is that the sentence discussions are not the place for this debate. Each sentence discussion is there to discuss the sentence (hence the name). If someone asks why Livia sounds like Liwia, please refrain from beating this dead horse.

We have community guidelines. https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines

"Always be Respectful We come together from across the world at varying language levels with the same goal in mind - to learn. Curiosity, questioning, and cultural understanding are something we celebrate. Be respectful of others and where they’re coming from.

Help and support across all skill levels We are all in this together. Learning a language is hard and takes a lot of courage and dedication. If someone uses incorrect grammar or has a question you think has an obvious answer, kindly and calmly help them out. Heckling and being straight up mean doesn’t help anyone learn. Can’t say it nicely? Don’t weigh in.

Embrace and share regional language differences A language can have many words, accents and ways to say the same thing. We think that’s one of the wonders of languages. Approach these conversations with an open mind and attitude."

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all folks. Let's not spoil Latin.

September 9, 2019

61 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thomasco3

I have refrained from starting the Latin course, because I know the BETA testers are making their contribution to work out the "bugs" and to give valuable feedback. But I am appalled by the sheer negativity, arrogance and audaciousness of some users who want to spew their venom upon this budding course, as if their opinion -- supreme over all others -- mattered most. What are we talking about here: 2000 years? Sure, troll, your petty, provincial mindset is what the entire Duolingo Latin community should use as our guiding compass. Riiiiiight...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

I have refrained from starting the Latin course . . .

The contributors must have been busy this weekend, as the course seems much more "forgiving" than it was at first. There may have been lots of alternate sentences typed in this weekend!

Hope you like the course when you do begin it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Indeed, they are very active and not just over the weekend. I got 31 Feedback e-mails since I started the course.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarthaBalazs

I will be honest when I say that I preffer the Ecclesiastical pronounciation rather than the Classical one because my first language is a Romance one, and the Ecclesiastical sounds better to me because of this, BUT I don't complain about the use of Classical on this one. Sure, it's weird to hear Liwia when I actually know people called Livia (many people in my country still use names from the time of the Romans, barely changed, like Flavius, Patricia, Corina, Traian etc) but it's bearable, I just tune it out and repeat the sentence in Ecclesiastical.

What bothers me however is what seems to be the errors in the audio. I have to be honest, some of the audio sounds very anglicised and it is read weirdly, as if the person has just gotten into Latin recently, and still struggles to not read the text like in English, especially in words like California. This is, however, pretty common in people who are new to a language, so if the speaker on these sentences is new to Latin, I applaud them for trying to provide audio for the course, and I hope that in the future the new audio will be corrected accordingly.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

I can understand this: but I wonder what you think about Classical pronunciation when it's done like this teacher and his students (this is from the Collegium Latinitatis in Spain)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarthaBalazs

Okay, watched a bit of it because I need to be somewhere, and wow I like how he pronouces it, even though it is Classical. I guess it's because most of the people I have heard pronouncing/using Classical are anglophones that sadly anglicise the pronounciation without realising (where I live, Ecclesiastical is basically the Latin you are taught in school, even in uni as far as I can tell. I guess it's because with it it is easier to point out how certain words changed to fit our modern language)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

I completely agree with your observation about Anglophones. I am English and I am convinced that English vowels are really unsuited to Latin. We can't know precisely how Latin vowels sounded, but they surely did not sound like our murky English or chewy American vowels. So Spanish or Italian vowels are a best guess, and in any case they make the language sound like something that could be alive, at least to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarthaBalazs

Yeah, when we learned Latin, our teacher basically said "okay the pronounciation was kept roughly the same in our modern language, except the following: insert the Ecclesiastical Latin rules of reading". My native language is Romanian, so I think that at least these three (I do not know about Portuguese, but French sounds really far off from Latin to me, because of the way stuff is read in French, but again, haven't heard a francophone read Latin yet) seem to be the best bet in terms of vowels, at least according to both "sides" of the reading.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blurflux

Portuguese vowels are really close to Latin ones, to the exception of ã, which is quite close to the Romanian ă (but nasalized), and the Iberian unstressed e which is pronounced very close to the Romanian î.

With that said, Latin also had nasal vowels (the words with -m at the end), but the thing is, Portuguese nasal vowels can be quite uneven, with ranço real (real/royal rancidity) forming a minimal pair with rã surreal (surreal frog) because the first is actually pronounced with an ng-like sound [ɰ̃], which is like the Spanish approximant g, but nasalized (or a nasal [w] but without lip rounding).

With that said, short Classical Latin /i/ and short Classical Latin /u/ actually favor speakers of English and German, since they are the bit and cook vowels.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

Thanks for the link, I always love to listen to different people speaking. But I'm not sure if we could call that Classical, hence he pronounces the modern V.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

Using 'v' is perfectly acceptable isn't it? It just puts you at 200AD rather than 50BC; or else it's how the plebians and rustici spoke at 50BC.

In all other respects he and his students are using standard classical consonants and dipthongs, vowel length etc.

As an aside, very many people in Europe who otherwise use Classical use a 'v' sound; I think this is a lot to do with the absence of a 'w' in many modern European languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

"Using 'v' is perfectly acceptable isn't it? " You're taking things out of context now. You've claimed that he uses classical pronunciation, and we do have some clear standards for that - and that professor was ignoring one of the key points (using just like the vulgar form)... so again, I don't think to claim that is classical per se is correct. I'm not saying anything like "pronouncing like that it's not acceptable dude" so please don't start that.

Furthermore: do you have links for your claims that the plebe in the city of Rome actually pronounced the "v" in the modern way since circa 50CE? The "v" sound specifically, from what I've heard before, came from outsiders, and only arrived in Rome later on. So, if that was the case, I think that "v" (even among the plebe) have really popped by the end/fall of the empire or so.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

In every respect except use of "v" for "w" these folks use the 'classical' pronunciation. They use hard 'c' and have all the long vowels and dipthongs as Classical rather than Ecclesiastical.

IIRC Cicero complains about rustics using "v" rather than "w". So the sound was in use very early and changed over time within what you might call the 'classical' period. I'll see if I can find more on this later but it's too much for me to look for right now.

So it seems a bit strong to dismiss their pronunciation as "not classical" when it is only one feature that is at variance, and that feature was one that AIUI changed within the period of the Roman Empire, rather than after it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

Well, I think if they miss on purpose one of the key concepts of what is now named "Classical pronunciation" they will set the standards loose - for an already chaotic topic. So, just my opinion, I think we should care for these details to avoid more confusion being spread around about Latin... if you don't want to call that Vulgar, I think we could come in terms calling that a "quasi-classical" or something.

About the sources, I asked not to be a pain in the bum, but because a lot of info that I read about that is rather vague and, in my opinion, they don't reveal the extent of what that could be, so I keep looking to find more about it to see if some day I'll have a clearer idea about the issue.

" I'll see if I can find more on this later but it's too much for me to look for right now." Sure, I completely understand, thanks for the answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

P.S. Above, as you can read, I assumed that you was talking about the city of Rome when you mentioned your dates... because if we would use the foreigners skills in Latin throughout the empire I think that would be a rather silly position. So my question was related to if the Romans¹ really pronounced like that back then (circa 50CE). ¹Romans/Latins - not focusing on monetary power but rather in the descendants of the settlers/founders of that area) - Just to make my question clear.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Whom do you call foreigners? There were Roman citizens all over the empire. If you want to concentrate on the city and the surroundings, it is much better to return a few centuries back. Say, the wars with Senons or perhaps the Punic wars.

Cannot reply: Yes, I am being completely serious. American English is also a perfectly fine English. And Aussie or Kiwi English is as well. By the 50CE Latin was already well on its way to be mainly the literally language of people with various vernaculars.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

"Whom do you call foreigners?" Are you being serious? Look at the size of the Roman Empire at its peak... My point was/is: there was people from many backgrounds within the EMPIRE, with many different native languages from their families (and I'm pretty sure some of them had Roman citizenship - and I bet some of them also moved into Italic peninsula and Rome), so if we would consider as "Classical" the language of all citizens in the EMPIRE, we would be already drown in chaos. Just like if, 2 thousands years in the future from now, someone would like to push the "inclusive" idea that all the accents within the former British Empire could be consider as Standard/Formal British accent. So I think it's not that difficult to understand that by "foreigners" I meant the non-Latins, or - in a more reasonable inclusive idea: non-Italic groups - that for sure spoke and influenced the language later on in history.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jbizzle3000

I think sometimes he uses the Spanish "soft" b: [β]. You can tell that his native tongue is Spanish since he rolls all the r's at the beginning of words, which is a requirement in Spanish. (The female student also does it as a Spaniard would when she reads the sentence at 4:30.) Actually, the v [w] in Classical Latin started to morph into the Spanish soft b [β] in Vulgar Latin so much so that v/b were often flipped in texts. (This still happens with Spanish speakers today! They will often write *baca when it's vaca "cow.")

Eventually most other Romance languages changed it to the current [v] we use in English as in "very." Many Iberian languages pronounce b and v the same as they did in Vulgar Latin: northern dialects of European Portuguese, Galician (Portuguese's sister language, spoken in the northwest corner of Spain), Spanish (including all dialects of Latin America), Catalan (potentially excluding some Valencian speakers and Catalan speakers from the Balearic Islands and Alghero, Sardinia), and southern dialects of Occitan (a romance language spoken in France).

I personally think we should use [v] if we can pronounce it as it's pronounced in many other European languages, but honestly, we can all go ahead and invent our own dialects. We shall see whose dialect will be powerful enough to revive Latin. If Hebrew did it, can't we? (The circumstances are very different, but maybe just maybe it will happen.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

I was told he is Italian :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jbizzle3000

Wait! Are you sure? I just looked him up on the internet. His real name is Jorge Tárrega, and he's taught for many years at universities and high schools in Valencia, Spain. https://www.uv.es/uvweb/universidad/es/ficha-persona-1285950309813.html?p2=jortaga

Here's an article in Spanish about him: https://www.larazon.es/local/comunidad-valenciana/salve-magister-IN14191797


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jbizzle3000

Lol, I tried to defend him. I can see that. His intonation sounds very Italian ("bumpier" than Spanish). In any case, he probably can't pronounce /w/ since it doesn't really exist in Italian as an intervocalic consonant of sorts. It's also probably why he never pronounces the /h/... Italians have trouble with that sound. Spanish speakers can at least use some modified form of /x/ (as in gente or jirafa).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hope150193

Equally distressing to me was the heated comments about gay marriage that were posted in the sentence discussions at the start of the Latin course. I do hope there is some way of removing that from the sentence discussion as the I’ve never seen a discussion degenerate so badly elsewhere in a Duolingo course. Maybe that’s already been dealt with and I missed it in which case my sincerest thanks. And apologies for raising the sorry subject again as the sooner we can all move on from these appallingly disrespectful interactions the better.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

I deleted quite a few and warned the users. If you see any discussions that are out of control you can post a link to it here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hope150193

Thank you for all your hard work and for this especially :-) I love how interactive the Latin course is and really appreciate how promptly things are being dealt with. And it’s good to know that if U come across any more of those kinds of comments there’s somewhere to report them and something can be done about it. Your doing a great job!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levfedor

Yes, sometimes Livia doesn't sounds equal to others in the same course, but common, this is free course and the beta testers are doing their best. I support every developer here for doing the most you can do.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bicolingo

May I say, although slightly off topic: To the young lady who, with courage and gusto, lent her voice to this course, even though her native language is not a Romance one: I salute you. Thank you for your work. For every loudmouth critic out there, there would be dozens of people like me who appreciate what you have done.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

Yeah, if it were me, I'd never do a voice recording again after getting that level of criticism heaped on my head. Tossing my pearls before swine and all that....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JOKOJOKO83

Thanks to her, and thanks to all the team, multiplied by one zillion.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

I found the female voice really good. The male is often not respecting the vowel length and that is unfortunate mainly because there is no other indication of it (like the macrons).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Witcher2019

I just use Ecclesiastical in my head and ignore (not always and I mean no offense. I just need to focus on Ecclesiastical Pronunciation) Duo’s Classical Pronunciation.

As a side note the comments trashing people’s pronunciation, nationalities’ and the homophobia within a couple days of release were a major let down for me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

If you find any of those comments that we missed, please post a link here so we can delete them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Witcher2019

As much as I’d love to do that I can’t because I use the app, but the comments on the app for the Parents skill before the first checkpoint have some particularly anti Semitic and homophobic comments. Including one person calling another a three letter word that’s an insult to gay men. Tragic. Why can people just learn and move on?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

Ok, I'll do some digging and find them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

"Let's not spoil Latin." I support this campaign.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JuanGomezBernal

Both are ok, as long as u dont mix them


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EstoyGloria

I kind of want to learn "vulgar" Latin, because that's what all the normal people spoke back in the Roman Empire or after it? (Correct me if possible). Because if you spoke Classical Latin, wouldn't normal lower class folk back then be like, "what the hell is she saying?" But . . . there aren't really any well documented forms of the common spoken language, soooo . . . .

If only . . . I don wanna sound like some rich dude.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danielconcasco

The differences between Classical Latin and vulgar Latin are often exaggerated. You can get glimpses of it in certain works (the Satyricon comes to mind) and then read books about the differences.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

Plautus' plays have good examples of everyday language as well; plus the ahem colloquial phraseology of Catallus' poems.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimKillock

There is a bit of evidence if you dig around. Three obvious examples are:

  1. Pronounce consonant v as 'v' - this was thought of as common
  2. Drop final 'm's at the end of accusatives (-am, -um, -em)
  3. Drop 'h' at the start of words

You can also find books about swearing in Latin, there are entire careers that have been devoted to understanding Latin prophanity.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bicolingo

Vulgar Latin has more street cred, you reckon? Good luck with that one ;-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Don't forget there are really not just these two, but a whole range of regional pronunciations. I normally read to myself with the pronunciation I was taught and what most biologists around use when pronouncing species names. It is closest to the "German" one although Czech is a Slavic language.

For example, it sounds to me very strange when I hear Carmina Burana sang in the modern ecclesiastical pronunciation when they are medieval songs of German origin composed by a German in the 20th century.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

"it sounds to me very strange when I hear Carmina Burana sang in the modern ecclesiastical pronunciation when they are medieval songs of German origin composed by a German in the 20th century."

Let me put what you're saying using as an example: lets imagine that the biggest club of modern English poetry in the world is based in London (or NYC)... and then, you have some Indian poet that writes this amazing piece/poem in English language... and that poem goes to the hands of the poetry club members back there in London (or NYC), and they recite the poem in their English/American accent - and, suddenly, someone stops the recitation to say "well, that's odd, do you know that actually that poem is from an Indian guy based on the Indian culture?! (implying that to be properly recited the English/American should recite that in Indian accent)" hahahaha


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Well, yes, it is my personal feeling. Compare https://youtu.be/zOVP7qfWMA8?t=40 and https://youtu.be/EJC-_j3SnXk?t=25 . Those omnipresent t͡ʃ consonants sound kind of strange to me there. I am just not used to hearing them in Latin. If I was Italian it would surely be different.

And well, Latin, unlike English, is not anyone's native tongue these days, so it is not a good comparison, it is a strawman


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

But the main point is different. The Carmina Burana remark was really just a remark. I did not want to prescribe anything. Quite the opposite. The point is to show that this is not a binary problem as in the title "Classical vs Ecclesiastical". There is a spectrum of widely used pronunciations. Even a catholic church Latin resource for self-learners I just consulted (from 1944, re-edited in the 1990s) teaches the regional pronunciation, not the Vatican ecclesiastical one.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DrHooper

I studied medieval Latin at university and I heard nothing but the---what we called---"Carolingian pronunciation". If I can stand "Liwia" everybody can. :)

Thanks for your great work bringing Latin to Duolingo!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BasJongene

'Liwia' is awful indeed. But Duolingo chose to use the classical pronunciation, so we have to deal with it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thomasco3

I just tried some of the Latin course in a private window and I immediately recognized that each sentence is read by a real human being. Very time consuming and tedious! Respect to them for their generous (and brave) contribution.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BasJongene

Livia has four beds, she is an interesting woman.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/babcia.zosia

'Approach these conversations with an open mind and attitude.'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hope150193

I think in general that’s a great suggestion. We all need to accept the right of others to have a different opinion from our own in order to concentrate on the sentence discussions themselves. Unfortunately in a few cases both sides of an opinion have become quite unpleasant in the language they use to assert their views. I wasn’t objecting to the opinions expressed but to the manner in which they were being expressed. Some of the language was quite vile and the tone became derogatory from both sides in the particular instance I referred to.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliquisBatavicus

Recte dicis confrater.. Quamquam 'sententia' in his lectionibus solum 'opinion' significat, profecto eo loco sententias nostras de ore ponere non debemus!

(rightly said, comrade.. although 'sententia' in these lessons only means 'opinion', we certainly should not be placing our opinions about pronunciation here.)

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