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View Full Version : In Excelsis Deo: How to pronounce it and what does it mean?


HeyHomie
12-20-2003, 11:09 AM
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing oer the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!


First, how do you pronounce it? I've heard

In Eggs-shell-sis
In Eggs-sell-sis
In Eggs-sell-shis


Second, what does it mean? It looks like Latin, maybe something along the lines of "in highest praise to God." But I don't speak Latin.

TIA

alterego
12-20-2003, 11:27 AM
According to this websit (http://hector.ucdavis.edu/Music10/TEXTS/Mass.htm#Gloria) it means "Glory to god on high"


dunno how to translate it sorry.

alterego
12-20-2003, 11:28 AM
erm *pronounce :)

gluteus maximus
12-20-2003, 12:28 PM
In Excel cease day-oh!

Polycarp
12-20-2003, 12:43 PM
It's Latin, and means "Glory, in the highest, to God."

You get into the question of "classic Latin" vs. "church Latin" pronunciations in the question of how to say it. The first word is "in" with the same meaning and pronunciation as English in; the last word, the dative for Deus, or God, is pronounced, in Harry Belafonte fashion, as "Day-o." It's the middle word that causes problems -- and the Latin can be rendered two ways. It's an ablative plural (it would be "excelse" if it were ablative singular, but like "pants" it's a plural-only form in this usage). "Excel - sis" is a standard Englishing of the classic Latin, which actually should have a marginally longer I sound, halfway between the -ee- sound of classic Continental long I and the -ih- sound of English short I. If you say "machinations" with a hint on the unstressed I sound in the second syllable that it's derived from "machine," you're close to correct. Church Latin, on the other hand, is Latin pronounced with a standard Italian (more or less Tuscan) accent, and would render this as (ex - chel - cease) with the -cel- syllable rendered as in cello. Because it is a Latin phrase in a hymn, the Church Latin is preferable but not mandatory; I've known a lot of Protestant renderings of the carol that use the Anglicized Classic Latin pronunciation.

altor
12-20-2003, 03:21 PM
In several guides to church Latin pronunciation, I have seen the recommendation that the combo xc be pronounced ksh as in bookshelf.

Thus it would be: gloria in ek-shelsis day-o

But I've never actually heard this pronunciation, only eks-chelsis as Polycarp indicates.

Zsofia
12-20-2003, 03:56 PM
It might be worth a mention that it only makes sense as the phrase "gloria in excelsis deo" - I imagine you're just not reading "gloria" as a foreign word, but "in excelsis deo" by itself just means "to god in the highest", it dosen't say what.

Enola Straight
12-20-2003, 04:03 PM
Gloria IN-ex-CHELL-seez DAY-oh

Guinastasia
12-20-2003, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by Enola Straight
Gloria IN-ex-CHELL-seez DAY-oh

That's how we always said it.

Gyrate
12-20-2003, 04:22 PM
Trust me, I've heard pretty much every possible pronunciation. Much of the difference comes from which Latin tradition you're dealing with.

Firstly, a small quibble: regardless of your style of Latin, "in" is pronounced "een". Anything else is just sloppiness.

As far as "excelsis" goes, I've heard

egg-SHELL-cease
eggs-CHELL-cease
ek-SHELL-cease
ex-CHELL-cease
ek-SELL-cease
and
ex-KELL-cease

Personally I prefer "ek-SHELL-cease", but as long as you're consistent it usually doesn't matter too much (and if you're singing it with a group, it's always good to all be using the same pronunciation.

Quartz
12-20-2003, 05:04 PM
[quote]Gyrate wrote
Firstly, a small quibble: regardless of your style of Latin, "in" is pronounced "een". Anything else is just sloppiness.[/i]

Really? The line doesn't conform to the pentameter or hexameter form.

feppytweed
12-20-2003, 06:00 PM
I always thought the lyrics were "in aunt chelsea's day-o."

JRDelirious
12-20-2003, 06:21 PM
Can't really help around here, as I tend to just pronounce it in Spanish (echsel-sees)...just glad for the chance to breathe after that bloody long GlooOOOooOOOooOOOoria...

Zardoz
12-20-2003, 06:40 PM
I always sang this as "in ex SEL sis DAY o".

'course, I never took Latin.

Polycarp
12-20-2003, 07:13 PM
Originally posted by MSUbulldogs101
I always thought the lyrics were "in aunt chelsea's day-o."

I take it Aunt Chelsea was in her youth a lady-in-waiting to Lady Mondegreen? ;)

hibernicus
12-20-2003, 10:50 PM
Originally posted by Gyrate
Firstly, a small quibble: regardless of your style of Latin, "in" is pronounced "een". Anything else is just sloppiness.


I can't agree with this. Latin had short and long versions of each vowel a, e, i, o, u: the short "i" in "incola" pronounced like the "i" in "pin"; the long "i" in "insula" pronounced like the "i" in "police". The "i" in "in" should be a short "i" as far as I am concerned.

Ruby
12-20-2003, 11:01 PM
Originally posted by Zardoz
I always sang this as "in ex SEL sis DAY o".

'course, I never took Latin.
Me too, and I did take Latin.

AskNott
12-20-2003, 11:03 PM
Many choir directors bend the Latin a bit, for the sake of euphony (good sound.) Twenty voices singing an "x" sound in unison comes out rather harsh, so they're coached to sing "eggshell" instead of the proper Latin.

So, forgive them, scholars. They only want to sound good.

Johanna
12-20-2003, 11:22 PM
What is called "Church Latin" pronunciation is simply modern Italian pronunciation applied to Latin. Keeping this in mind, analyzing the phonetics in the word will explain why it's pronounced the way it is.

In Italian, the digraph sc- is pronounced "sh" when it comes before e and i. So sce is pronounced she, and sci is pronounced shi.

The letter x represents a double sound, k followed by s. So the letter combination exce- can be broken into ek- and sce-. Ek-shel-sis.

The voicing of the k sound to g, resulting in the "eggshell" pronunciation, is I think favored by choral directors to give a softer, more euphonious sound. It may be that x when intervocalic (between vowels) is voiced, to sound "gz" instead of "ks". But I doubt that would normally apply in excelsis, since the x is followed by the unvoiced c. I guess it's just a choral director thing.

Polycarp, now you've got me singing the "Banana Boat" song.

Come, Mr. tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me want to go home

sailor
12-21-2003, 06:20 AM
I believe Day-oh, although it may be common among English speakers, is just wrong and the e would be pronounced short eh, deh-o. I cannot imagine the e was pronounced English fahion, because that pronounciation of e is strictly English and AFAIK the rRomans did not speak English. Only English clergy will pronounce it like that not any other country and certainly not the acient Romans.

Bryan Ekers
12-21-2003, 06:59 AM
Don't forget to whack yourself in the head with a plank after saying it.

Polycarp
12-21-2003, 09:31 AM
Originally posted by sailor
I believe Day-oh, although it may be common among English speakers, is just wrong and the e would be pronounced short eh, deh-o. I cannot imagine the e was pronounced English fahion, because that pronounciation of e is strictly English and AFAIK the rRomans did not speak English. Only English clergy will pronounce it like that not any other country and certainly not the acient Romans.

English long E, giving you "dee-oh" was not in question. But Deus did, IIRC, take a Latin long E, giving a "day" sound to the first syllable. "Deh-us," with a glottal stop intervening, doesn't sound like it would fit Latin speaking style, and "deh-oh" for the dative and ablative is even worse.

moriah
12-21-2003, 10:13 AM
According to John F. Collins' A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin:

When spoken, it's supposed to be pronounced thusly...

Gloria -- GLOW rih ah. {The i is short, however, it sounds like long ee when gliding dipthonically into the ah. The o is long and shouldn't be turned into an 'r-controlled' vowel.}

in -- ihn {definitely a short i}

excelsis - ehk SHELL sees. {The 'cel' should be pronounced 'chell' but the 's' in the 'x' (ks) turns it into 'shell' as Jomo Mojo said. All the e's are short, but the i is long (ablative plural).}

Deo -- DEH owe {Short e, long o. However, the diphthonic glide between the vowels makes the eh sound like ay.}

Now, Mr. Collins notes that when ecclesiastical Latin is sung, there is the habit of turning short vowels into long, especially if stressed or held. That's why the sung version is most often sung as:

GLOW ree ah een ehk SHELL sees DAY owe.

While there may be choir directors who insist on the k sound in x be pronounced like a g, I've never experienced that. My experience is that people sing a g sound out of the difficulty of spitting out a hard k before a sh. It's just lazy vocalization.

Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

Trigonal Planar
12-21-2003, 01:06 PM
egg SHELL sis??? WOW, that's awful.

I've always heard it (or at least, this is how I've learned it) as:

Ex-cell-seas day-oh

or

Ex-cell-sis day-oh

boofy_bloke
12-21-2003, 08:04 PM
The truth is... no-one knows how to pronounce Latin. No human language can survive 3000 (+/-) years of mispronunciation, dialects, speech impediments, pedants, social stratification, immigration, education, contact with new cultures, empire building, invasion and all the other stuff that happened to the Romans.

What you can do is make an educated guess, and this is what happened with Latin. Unfortunately, not all the educated guessers happen to agree and most people end up bending it to match their own first language dialect (comfort zone).

My advise is to pick the version you like best and stick to it.

dropzone
12-22-2003, 08:45 AM
But what did the shepherds think when angels FINALLY spoke to them, but did so in the language of their conquerors?

"One true God, my ass! This Jupiter guy's even got the angels on his side."

;)

Jurph
12-22-2003, 10:09 AM
When we sang the John Rutter "Gloria", my choir director coached "GLOW-r'ya Een Egg-shell-seas Deh-oh, et een Tare-ah Pox Ho-mean-ee-boos BONE-ay VO-loon-tot-teas" for aesthetic reasons. One of the tenors tried to correct him on his Latin and was told "you can pronounce it however you like in class, but you'll sing it as I tell you, or it will sound like crap."

The "g" sound in "excelsis" is identical to a vocalized "k" sound, which means the note can be carried through the consonant. Forgoing the sharper "DAY-oh" for "Deh-O" keeps overzealous high soprani from 'pinching' the vowel sound into "Dayeee-Oh" and turning a pleasant note into a screech.

We were so aggressively drilled on these pronunciations that I still sing them reflexively in that form.

Really Not All That Bright
12-23-2003, 03:31 AM
My choirmaster (who also happened to be my Latin teacher) made us sing it "ecks-chell-sis".

In fact I got detention once for singing "Gonorrhea is expensive, hell no"....

rwsmith29456
12-13-2010, 11:35 PM
I've sung under many fine directors over the last 35 years or so and studied singing for 20 years. Every few years I have to revise how I sing 'In Excelsis Deo' because everybody says the 'right' way is something different. Day-O has always been the same, but this year it was EEN eggshellsees Deo. First time in 35 years anyone has said to say 'EEN'. I took classical Latin in HS and college but am aware that this has NOTHING to do with liturgical Latin. I would consider some old time, hard core, Catholics to be in the know on this but I've never heard an authoritative pronunciation that stayed the same for any length of time. I think I'll write the Pope.

ragerdude
12-14-2010, 12:57 AM
When we sang the John Rutter "Gloria", my choir director coached "GLOW-r'ya Een Egg-shell-seas Deh-oh, et een Tare-ah Pox Ho-mean-ee-boos BONE-ay VO-loon-tot-teas"

After years of IPA, that just looks really funny!

Blake
12-14-2010, 01:44 AM
Zombie glee club. How odd.

septimus
12-14-2010, 03:33 AM
... how do you pronounce it?

I don't know but "Gloria" is pronounced:

Glooooo--o-o-o-o-ooo-o-o-o-o-ooo-o-o-o-o-ooo-ri-a

Perhaps my very favourite Christmas song, especially if the mountains reply in bass to the angel's soprano.

BigT
12-14-2010, 05:33 AM
I've sung under many fine directors over the last 35 years or so and studied singing for 20 years. Every few years I have to revise how I sing 'In Excelsis Deo' because everybody says the 'right' way is something different. Day-O has always been the same, but this year it was EEN eggshellsees Deo. First time in 35 years anyone has said to say 'EEN'. I took classical Latin in HS and college but am aware that this has NOTHING to do with liturgical Latin. I would consider some old time, hard core, Catholics to be in the know on this but I've never heard an authoritative pronunciation that stayed the same for any length of time. I think I'll write the Pope.

It is my experience that every director has their own take on how liturgical Latin should be pronounced. I had one director who insisted on trying to figure out exactly how it was pronounced when it was written. I asked him why we didn't pronounce songs written in English with their original accent, and he didn't get back to me.

As for EEN vs IN, I'd actually assume that's something different. There seems to be an insistence by certain sources (including the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_spelling_and_pronunciation) ) to use the same IPA symbol for both long and short vowels, even though they all agree that they sounded different. When the word in is transcribed as /in/, people get the idea that it is pronounced EEN [in], when it is actually pronounced IN [ɪn].*

I, for one, am a big proponent of making the phonemic notation (indicated with slashes) and the phonetic notation (indicated with brackets) match. It's much less confusing.

*cited from Vox Latina (p. 47): "There appears to have been no great difference in the quality between long and short a, but in the case of the close* and mid* vowels (i and u, e and o) the long appear to have been appreciably closer than the short."

BigT
12-14-2010, 05:40 AM
Didn't get back in time to point out that you can read the cited text yourself at Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=aexkj_0oj3MC&lpg=PP1&dq=isbn%3A0521379369&pg=PA47#v=onepage&q&f=true).

Polycarp
12-14-2010, 07:37 AM
So banana boats sail across the Eggshell Seas, pursued by zombies? Now ther's a nightmare image for Christmas!

DrFidelius
12-14-2010, 07:58 AM
So banana boats sail across the Eggshell Seas, pursued by zombies? Now ther's a nightmare image for Christmas!

I saw three ships come sailing in, with zombies close behind..

Cheshire Human
12-14-2010, 08:19 AM
The "BONE-ay" from post #30 should be pronounced "BRAINNNNNNNNS!"

Polycarp
12-14-2010, 08:42 AM
The Scriptural account of zombies coming out of the graves is associated with Good Friday and Easter, not with Christmas:

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (Matthew 27:50-53)

aruvqan
12-14-2010, 09:16 AM
please tell me i am not the only person now having the Banana Boat Song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpg-KIKD5gU) as an ear worm?

Dr. Drake
12-14-2010, 09:40 AM
The truth is... no-one knows how to pronounce Latin.That's just not true. The difficulty lies in getting 21st-century English speakers to (1) agree on which Latin (time and place) to pronounce and (2) to agree to go through the effort of rendering it "correctly" when both Excel Sis and Eggshell Sis work pretty well for performance purposes.

Vaevictis
12-14-2010, 12:46 PM
That's just not true. The difficulty lies in getting 21st-century English speakers to (1) agree on which Latin (time and place) to pronounce and (2) to agree to go through the effort of rendering it "correctly" when both Excel Sis and Eggshell Sis work pretty well for performance purposes.

We know a lot about how to pronounce Classical Latin, but we don't have a full understanding -- there are a number of tricky points on which we are just not sure. But we have a good general picture.

Dr. Drake
12-14-2010, 01:39 PM
We know a lot about how to pronounce Classical Latin, but we don't have a full understanding -- there are a number of tricky points on which we are just not sure. But we have a good general picture.Agreed, but it is an awfully long way from boofy_bloke's "no-one knows how to pronounce Latin" (0% knowledge) to your "there are a number of tricky points on which we are just not sure" (what, 95%? 92%?).

rowrrbazzle
12-14-2010, 09:46 PM
please tell me i am not the only person now having the Banana Boat Song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpg-KIKD5gU) as an ear worm?Here's the antidote (Stan Freberg's version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PBO7YE7vjE

aruvqan
12-14-2010, 11:02 PM
Here's the antidote (Stan Freberg's version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PBO7YE7vjE

Now if I could only find Flight of the Bumblebee on sousaphone *sigh*

clairobscur
12-15-2010, 04:15 AM
"in excelsis deo" by itself just means "to god in the highest", it dosen't say what.

I always seen it translated as "glory to god in the highest skies"

UDS
12-15-2010, 05:17 AM
I'm guessing you've seen it translated into a French expression, which you are now transliterating into English as "glory to God in the highest skies"

SFAIK, the -cel element of excelsis is cognate with the French ciel, which translates into English as "sky" or "heaven", according to context. I think in this context ". . . in the highest heaven" might be a better translation than "in the highest skies".

BigT
12-15-2010, 05:17 AM
I always seen it translated as "glory to god in the highest skies"

Well, it's usually preceded by Gloria. And, yes, the word skies or heavens is implied by using excelsis alone.

Vaevictis
12-17-2010, 10:08 AM
Agreed, but it is an awfully long way from boofy_bloke's "no-one knows how to pronounce Latin" (0% knowledge) to your "there are a number of tricky points on which we are just not sure" (what, 95%? 92%?).

You get my point exactly.

TubaDiva
12-17-2010, 11:45 AM
Now if I could only find Flight of the Bumblebee on sousaphone *sigh*Sure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyQeYctaea4

Okay, it's a rather colorful tuba, will that suffice?

picunurse
12-17-2010, 11:57 AM
My high school choir teacher ranted that we were singing, not having breakfast so there are NO egg shells in Angels we have Heard on High She pronounced it excel sis deo.

aruvqan
12-17-2010, 12:22 PM
Sure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyQeYctaea4

Okay, it's a rather colorful tuba, will that suffice?

yay :D thanks!

HeyHomie
12-17-2010, 01:37 PM
Wow. A zombie thread is not only allowed to continue, but also made Threadspotting. Excuse me while I go buy a lottery ticket.

Malacandra
12-17-2010, 01:45 PM
I've sung under many fine directors over the last 35 years or so and studied singing for 20 years. Every few years I have to revise how I sing 'In Excelsis Deo' because everybody says the 'right' way is something different. Day-O has always been the same, but this year it was EEN eggshellsees Deo. First time in 35 years anyone has said to say 'EEN'. I took classical Latin in HS and college but am aware that this has NOTHING to do with liturgical Latin. I would consider some old time, hard core, Catholics to be in the know on this but I've never heard an authoritative pronunciation that stayed the same for any length of time. I think I'll write the Pope.

EEN would have nothing to do with Latin and everything to do with voice production, I should think. 'Least, my singing teacher taught me there were just five vowel sounds: ah, eh, ee, oh, oo. "I" as in "in" doesn't fit any of these exactly, but has to be substituted by the nearest-approximation vowel from that list, and "ee" is the closest.

Chefguy
12-17-2010, 04:23 PM
"In eggshell cheeses, mayo." It's a recipe for deviled eggs.

carnut
12-17-2010, 10:48 PM
een ek shell cease day o

Ayatollah Yawuntz
12-18-2010, 12:02 AM
Don't know nothin' 'bout no liturgical Latin.. All's I gots is 3 years of high school Latin and AFAIK the C is pronounced as a K, without exception. Oh and to get rid of that day-o earworm, this old fave...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC8ROZ4INnQ

fachverwirrt
12-18-2010, 12:02 AM
EEN would have nothing to do with Latin and everything to do with voice production, I should think. 'Least, my singing teacher taught me there were just five vowel sounds: ah, eh, ee, oh, oo. "I" as in "in" doesn't fit any of these exactly, but has to be substituted by the nearest-approximation vowel from that list, and "ee" is the closest.

There are a lot more than five vowel sounds in singing. There is absolutely no reason to teach singers that they can't sing [I]. It may be easier to blend in a choir, but that's no excuse for only using those five.

AHunter3
12-18-2010, 03:01 AM
In Eggs-shell-sis
In Eggs-sell-sis
In Eggs-sell-shis




wrong
wrong
and wrong


Eeeen ecks chail cease day oh.

No freakin' eggshells!!! :mad:

Malacandra
12-18-2010, 03:31 AM
There are a lot more than five vowel sounds in singing. There is absolutely no reason to teach singers that they can't sing [I]. It may be easier to blend in a choir, but that's no excuse for only using those five.

Take it up with my singing teacher (who was teaching soloists) and don't shoot the messenger, dude.

fachverwirrt
12-18-2010, 08:14 AM
Take it up with my singing teacher (who was teaching soloists) and don't shoot the messenger, dude.

That was my intent (to take issue with your teacher, not you). Sorry if it came off otherwise.

Polycarp
12-18-2010, 09:42 AM
een ek shell cease day o

Paraphrased, "Do not sing that freakin' Banana Boat Song while working with my spreadsheets!" :D

fachverwirrt
12-18-2010, 03:23 PM
There are a lot more than five vowel sounds in singing. There is absolutely no reason to teach singers that they can't sing [I]. It may be easier to blend in a choir, but that's no excuse for only using those five.

That should be a capital "I" in those brackets. I think VB is thinking it's an italics tag.

Malacandra
12-18-2010, 04:59 PM
That should be a capital "I" in those brackets. I think VB is thinking it's an italics tag.

Strangely, even wrapping "noparse" tags around it doesn't help. Ah well, guess you just have to give up on putting a capital I inside square brackets. :cool:

BigT
12-18-2010, 09:03 PM
EEN would have nothing to do with Latin and everything to do with voice production, I should think. 'Least, my singing teacher taught me there were just five vowel sounds: ah, eh, ee, oh, oo. "I" as in "in" doesn't fit any of these exactly, but has to be substituted by the nearest-approximation vowel from that list, and "ee" is the closest.

Wow. I know about choral vowel modification, but I've never heard of a set that was that restrictive. Usually there are eight vowels: ah, ay, eh, ih, ee, oh, ooh1, uu2. (I'm not including the "French" or umlaut vowels, of course.) All of them are modified for singing purposes.

1 oo as in book
2 u as in rude

If I were able to use IPA and be understood, I wouldn't need footnotes. [ɒ] [e] [ɛ] [ɪ] [i] [o] [ʊ] [u]

ladysorrowfree
12-18-2010, 10:30 PM
Many choir directors bend the Latin a bit, for the sake of euphony (good sound.) Twenty voices singing an "x" sound in unison comes out rather harsh, so they're coached to sing "eggshell" instead of the proper Latin.

So, forgive them, scholars. They only want to sound good.

Yup. I've sung in a lot of choirs over the years, and in every one, come Christmas, we were told to make it "eggshell-sees".

fachverwirrt
12-19-2010, 01:06 AM
Wow. I know about choral vowel modification, but I've never heard of a set that was that restrictive. Usually there are eight vowels: ah, ay, eh, ih, ee, oh, ooh1, uu2. (I'm not including the "French" or umlaut vowels, of course.) All of them are modified for singing purposes.

1 oo as in book
2 u as in rude

If I were able to use IPA and be understood, I wouldn't need footnotes. [ɒ] [e] [ɛ] [ɪ] [i] [o] [ʊ] [u]

At the very least, I would add [a], [] and [ʌ]. And, of course, the schwa ([ə]) which can take on all sorts of variations depending upon language and context. You also really need [ɔ] if you're going to properly pronounce anything in French or German.

Maggie the Ocelot
12-19-2010, 02:59 PM
In ex-celcius day-ohhh

It translates to "The day after the world went back to Fahrenheit".

BigT
12-20-2010, 09:48 AM
At the very least, I would add [a], [] and . And, of course, the schwa () which can take on all sorts of variations depending upon language and context. You also really need [ɔ] if you're going to properly pronounce anything in French or German.

I did leave out // which is opened up and brought further back, so I'm not sure of the correct symbol. But the rest of those vowels were intentionally omitted.

I was specifically told there is no "uh", which removes [ʌ] and [ə]. The context where [a] would be still used is for /aɪ/ and /aʊ/, but, in both of those, [a] is to be avoided for being "nasty."

[ɔ] is the odd one--it exists, but only as a modification of [ɒ] in the upper registers, where the rest of the vowels are merely made more close. I'm not sure why [ɔ] does not exist before [r], but I've been told that the vowels in cord and code are the same. ([r] is always treated as a consonant, not a vowel.)

I do want to point out that, even after being taught the standard, modifications were allowed to be made for languages other than English--but only in the choirs advanced enough to be singing in those languages anyways.

fachverwirrt
12-20-2010, 05:00 PM
It will help to frame the discussion a bit more if we clarify whether we're discussing choral diction or solo diction; since Malacandra's teacher was specifically teaching soloists, that's the context of my discussion.

I should preface that this is one of those subjects where you're not going to get much agreement from person to person. Get 10 voice teachers in a room and there'll be about 17 opinions on technique.
I did leave out // which is opened up and brought further back, so I'm not sure of the correct symbol. But the rest of those vowels were intentionally omitted.

I was specifically told there is no "uh", which removes [ʌ] and [ə]. The context where [a] would be still used is for /aɪ/ and /aʊ/, but, in both of those, [a] is to be avoided for being "nasty."

I would tend to say that while [ʌ] is modified slightly away from the dull "pure" sound, it still maintains a certain neutrality that I would still classify as [ʌ]. I can't agree on the schwa. Like I said, schwas tend to be colored based on their particular context (schwa is more a concept than an exact vowel anyway*), but you cannot sing expressively and authentically in English without using the schwa. Consider what you would do with the word "little" with the second syllable elongated; what vowel would you suggest using there?

As for [a], I disagree quite emphatically, particularly in the case of Italian, French, and German. You simply can't sing authentically in any of those languages without using [a] (that's not to say that people don't (and some very high level singers, too), but it grates on me when they do). There's no reason for [a] to be "nasty" unless it's spread, which is a deficiency of technique, not an aspect of the vowel.

[ɔ] is the odd one--it exists, but only as a modification of [ɒ] in the upper registers, where the rest of the vowels are merely made more close. I'm not sure why [ɔ] does not exist before [r], but I've been told that the vowels in cord and code are the same. ([r] is always treated as a consonant, not a vowel.)

Again, I disagree strongly (also on modifying vowels on the top, but that's one of those voice teacher things that no one is going to agree on). [ɔ] features quite prominently in several languages. You can get away with not using it in Italian (although you're Italian will suffer for it), but you really need it for French and German. You can't make a distinction between "Wonn'" and "wohn" without using [ɔ]. (Lest you suggest using [ɒ] in "Wonn'", I would ask what you would use for "wann".)

And I would absolutely not use the same vowel for "code" and "cord".

*To be clear, I'm referring specifically to the sound called "schwa" which is not necessarily the same thing as the "mid central vowel" although they use the same symbol.

sweets29
12-03-2013, 09:32 PM
[glawr-ee-uh in ek-sel-sis dey-oh, glohr-]

Vaevictis
12-04-2013, 12:44 AM
WTF?

Gyrate
12-04-2013, 05:46 AM
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...zooombies eeeverywheeeeeeere...

monavis
12-04-2013, 07:46 AM
In several guides to church Latin pronunciation, I have seen the recommendation that the combo xc be pronounced ksh as in bookshelf.

Thus it would be: gloria in ek-shelsis day-o

But I've never actually heard this pronunciation, only eks-chelsis as Polycarp indicates.

In my Latin class years ago, we said Glo ree a een excell sis Day Oh

Malacandra
12-04-2013, 08:48 AM
If only you had been a little quicker off the mark ten years ago.

Really Not All That Bright
12-04-2013, 09:43 AM
Even zombies say it gloriah in exchellsis day-o.

AHunter3
12-04-2013, 11:07 AM
First, how do you pronounce it? I've heard

In Eggs-shell-sis
In Eggs-sell-sis
In Eggs-sell-shis



Those are all bloody awful :mad:

The proper pronunciation is Ecks-chail-cease


An armada of annoying choir directors have continuously asserted that you can (and therefore should) get away with "eggshell-cease", their reasoning being that the "ksch" sound you have to make between 1st and 2nd syllables is just too complex a consonant when you're singing and has too many fricatives and sibilants so the choir will sound like a punctured innertube.

What makes them wrong is that no, it does not sound pretty much the same. You can tell that the damn choir is singing about freaking eggshells.

It's sloppy singing.


Oh, and "sis" is just wrong for no reason. It's cease, as in "cease and desist", rhymes with piece and lease. And the middle vowel should be closer to the vowel in hail or pail than to hell or tell: chail, not chell.



It looks like Latin, maybe something along the lines of "in highest praise to God."


Ya think? ;)

purplehorseshoe
12-04-2013, 11:13 AM
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...zooombies eeeverywheeeeeeere...

I totally read this as "zOOOOOOOOOmbies everywhere" and LOLd. Man, this thread has been revived quite a few times.

Lasciel
12-04-2013, 11:14 AM
ZoooOooooOooooOoooooOoooooo-mBees. in X-L-seas-dehhh-O.

Merry Christmas!

monavis
12-04-2013, 02:59 PM
In my Latin class years ago, we said Glo ree a een excell sis Day Oh

Our Latin teacher could read , write and teach 11 languages and she didn't say chelsis no chell with an h sound!

Vaevictis
12-04-2013, 03:36 PM
Well then she could not read write or teach medieval Latin apparently.

Trinopus
12-04-2013, 04:55 PM
Vaevictis: too strong. There really is room for some minor individual variation in pronunciation. Not everyone agrees with the hard c's and v's that sound like w's. Some people say vie cissim, and others say "we kissem." Many of us pronounce Cicero as "Sis er oh" and not "Kick er oh." It's much too strong to declare that such people (either set) cannot "read write or teach."

(Gosh, you left out a comma; does this mean you cannot read, write, or teach English?)

Millions of people prefer the "traditional" pronunciation.

(I say "Bet el gee-yous" instead of "Beetle juice." There's room here for all.)

Kinthalis
12-04-2013, 05:19 PM
I thought it was Ex Kelseas Isn't c a hard k sound in classical latin?

It's gaee-us ee-ulee-us Kai-sahr right?

Or is it different due to the preceding "x"?

Ulfreida
12-04-2013, 06:21 PM
When we sang the John Rutter "Gloria", my choir director coached "GLOW-r'ya Een Egg-shell-seas Deh-oh, et een Tare-ah Pox Ho-mean-ee-boos BONE-ay VO-loon-tot-teas" for aesthetic reasons. One of the tenors tried to correct him on his Latin and was told "you can pronounce it however you like in class, but you'll sing it as I tell you, or it will sound like crap."

The "g" sound in "excelsis" is identical to a vocalized "k" sound, which means the note can be carried through the consonant. Forgoing the sharper "DAY-oh" for "Deh-O" keeps overzealous high soprani from 'pinching' the vowel sound into "Dayeee-Oh" and turning a pleasant note into a screech.

We were so aggressively drilled on these pronunciations that I still sing them reflexively in that form.

This. There is church Latin and there is sung church Latin and they are different. In fact there is sung English, French, and German and they are also not the same as the spoken modern languages. The different diction and vowel sounds help the physical apparatus of voice production to sound like the language only prettier.

In classical voice anyway. If you are singing the cowboy gloria just do your thang.

fachverwirrt
12-04-2013, 07:11 PM
Basically, asking how something is pronounced in Latin is like asking how something is pronounced in English. There are a plethora of historical and regional dialects that muddle the question.

So basically the answer is "which Latin"?

Pai325
12-04-2013, 07:19 PM
In several guides to church Latin pronunciation, I have seen the recommendation that the combo xc be pronounced ksh as in bookshelf.

Thus it would be: gloria in ek-shelsis day-o

But I've never actually heard this pronunciation, only eks-chelsis as Polycarp indicates.

That's how I learned it in school. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but if it was good enough for the nuns it's good enough for me.

LarryECollins
12-19-2014, 01:04 AM
I studied 2 years of Latin and have sung in numerous choirs which sang in Latin. Let me see if I can provide some "helps" on remembering how to pronounce "in excelsis".

Latin only has pure vowel sounds.
A = ah
E = eh
I = ee
O = O
U = Oo

1. So "in" is always pronounced "een", not English "ihn"
2. the words "exit" is from Latin, so pronounce the "ex" in the same manner.
3. Most people correctly pronounce "cello". The rule for ecclesiastical (church) Latin is "c" is pronounce as a hard "c" before the vowels "a", "o", and "u" - yielding "cah", "coh", "coo". Before "i" and "e" the "c" is pronounced as "ch", yielding "chee" and "cheh". THEREFORE, the "c" in "exCElsis" is pronouced just as is in "cello". There are no eggshells involved!

So the correct pronunciation is "EEN-EX-CHEL-SIS".
Remember "EXit" and "CEllo" and you'll neither forget or be wrong!

AHunter3
12-19-2014, 01:41 AM
Bravo! Quite right!

Knorf
12-19-2014, 01:51 AM
Do people just always have to post without reading the thread? Gah!

Lord Mondegreen
12-19-2014, 03:49 AM
If this triple-resurrected thread has only taught me one thing, and I rather think that it has, it's how much I miss reading posts by Polycarp.

RIP

jharvey963
12-19-2014, 01:18 PM
I didn't read all of the replies, so I don't know if this was mentioned already.

While the correct pronunciation is ek-shell-sees, my choir director always required us to pronounce it

egg-shell-sees

The reason? You get a horrible "s" sibilant sound while singing it. It sounds like a whole bunch of snakes hissing at that point. I also remember getting a really dirty look from the director when I forgot and mispronounced it in a performance. Didn't help that I was in the first row, close to the center. :)

J.

Johnny Angel
12-19-2014, 01:39 PM
I tend to gloss over discussions on how the ecclesiastical pronunciation works, so I'm only now realizing that the spoken pronunciation is supposed to differ from the sung pronunciation. Checce:

Four spoken pronunciation systems compared. (http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/mc/latinpro.pdf)
Sung pronunciation clarified. (http://cmed.faculty.ku.edu/rehnotes/latin.html)

Now, having put the time into learning the Restored Classical pronunciation, I feel entitled to be a bit snooty about ecclesiastical pronunciation -- the fact that many Latinists well above my ability use it be damned. But now it turns out that there is an even more fucked-up sub-system? This will not stand! I mean, it's stood for hundreds of years, but I have a good feeling about this century!

Doctor Jackson
12-19-2014, 03:40 PM
This zombie is clearly an annual on it's way to becoming perennial.

fachverwirrt
12-19-2014, 04:02 PM
As I mentioned last time this was revived, there are multitudes of Latin pronunciations. In my time as a professional chorister, I have sung in Classical, ecclesiastic (Italian), German, Spanish, Portuguese, and antique English varieties of Latin, all with differences subtle to profound.

There is no one correct answer to this question.

Leo Bloom
12-19-2014, 04:25 PM
Lord Mondegreen, for one, knows I would sing this any old way. Gladly.

Knorf
12-19-2014, 05:15 PM
There is no one correct answer to this question.
No way! I learned how to say this phrase when I took a dodgy course in Latin for a year or two from somewhere or other and I'm unequivocally certain that only the way I was taught is correct!

:eek::p

(Of course fachverwirrt is 100% right. I just felt compelled to unleash my inner sarcasm.)

Senegoid
12-19-2014, 10:54 PM
Now I need to know how to pronounce the English "exit".

Is it ek-sit or eg-zit?

longhair75
12-19-2014, 11:27 PM
Just adding the fact that I miss My friend Polycarp also......

fachverwirrt
12-19-2014, 11:30 PM
Now I need to know how to pronounce the English "exit".

Is it ek-sit or eg-zit?

Yes.

MsKaren
12-20-2014, 03:53 AM
For fun: EWTN Kids. Go to the school. Select the black book "Let's Learn Latin" on the desk in the hallway. You don't need to enter a classroom. Go to lesson 2 and click on the bee to hear the phrase pronounced by a child. :-)

http://www.ewtn.com/ewtnkids/home.asp

BigT
12-20-2014, 06:30 AM
As I mentioned last time this was revived, there are multitudes of Latin pronunciations. In my time as a professional chorister, I have sung in Classical, ecclesiastic (Italian), German, Spanish, Portuguese, and antique English varieties of Latin, all with differences subtle to profound.

There is no one correct answer to this question.

I agree there is no one correct answer, but I think there is one that usually applies, and that is, for ecclesiastic phrases, use Ecclesiastical Latin. Sure, a choir director may have an informed reason to do something different, but I think that's a good rule of thumb. The exception for the average singer would be when recordings indicate that tradition says otherwise--though I can't think of any examples offhand.

I'm also very surprised that you've sang in English Latin. I've never heard that except with short phrases that have entered the English language, like the phrases lawyers use, the names of the Roman gods, or names of logical fallacies.

What have you sung in English Latin? Heck, can you name some songs and what regional variety of Latin you've sang them in? I really only encountered Ecclesiastical and Classical, albeit with slight variations depending on the director.

BigT
12-20-2014, 06:41 AM
For fun: EWTN Kids. Go to the school. Select the black book "Let's Learn Latin" on the desk in the hallway. You don't need to enter a classroom. Go to lesson 2 and click on the bee to hear the phrase pronounced by a child. :-)

http://www.ewtn.com/ewtnkids/home.asp

Weird that the site is violating its own pronunciation instructions (https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/ecclesiastical_latin.htm). By its own rules, the proper pronunciation would be "GLOR-ee-ah een ek-SHEL-sees DEH-oh." The kid even says follows the former instructions, other than saying "day-oh" like he wants to go home.

BigT
12-20-2014, 06:57 AM
It will help to frame the discussion a bit more if we clarify whether we're discussing choral diction or solo diction; since Malacandra's teacher was specifically teaching soloists, that's the context of my discussion.

Might as well make this a three-fer, and respond to this old question. I was referring to choral singing. As you said, that's the only time I've ever heard of restricting vowels. It's in order to get a better blend.

I probably should have quoted both you and Malacandra, as I was responding also to what you said:

There are a lot more than five vowel sounds in singing. There is absolutely no reason to teach singers that they can't sing [I]. It may be easier to blend in a choir, but that's no excuse for only using those five.

I was just saying I've never heard of even a choir that is that restrictive with their vowels. I've heard of ones that outlaw [ə], [a], and [ʌ] (as in about, aisle and cup, for non-IPAers)--but that still leaves a lot more than five.

I actually suspect that Malacandra is misremembering or, worse, his teacher was. There is the teaching that all vowels are variations of a small set that you must be able to handle perfectly. You're still making many different vowels, but you start from a "pure" vowel and change it.

There's also an issue of vowel modifications in the upper register, and there are the sopranos who sing too high to actually make certain vowels. But those are special cases.

Any teacher (solo or otherwise) that would actually say you should sing "En-jellz wee hahv hahrd ahn hahee" is just horribly wrong, and apparently hasn't listend to real singers in a long time.

BigT
12-20-2014, 07:16 AM
One more thing... (sorry)

I found a page that covers the different Latin regional variations in pronunciation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_regional_pronunciation).

It also has a note on <xc> that confirms what I suspected: the reason we tell people to say egg-shell-cease is because the /k/ is unaspirated. A (soft) g sound is the closest we have in English to that phoneme. Properly, there should be no sound after the k/g at all. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a fricative (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fricative_consonant).

fachverwirrt
12-20-2014, 09:51 AM
What have you sung in English Latin? Heck, can you name some songs and what regional variety of Latin you've sang them in? I really only encountered Ecclesiastical and Classical, albeit with slight variations depending on the director.

Specifically, it was antique English Latin, which the director described as "pre Glorious Revolution", although I don't know how tongue-in-cheek he was being. The piece was something that was sung at the wedding of Mary I to Philip of Spain and had never been sung since.

The only thing I remember that was starkly different from anything else was that "ecce" was pronounced "ECK-see".