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  #1  
Old 11-24-2001, 07:43 PM
robby robby is offline
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In referring to Newton's masterpiece Principia (shortened from the full title Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), how is Principia correctly pronounced? Specifically, is the "c" hard or soft?

I always pronounced it with a soft "c," similar to the pronunciation of the English word "principle." However, I was recently corrected, and told that the Latin pronunciation has a hard "c."

While we're at it, what is the proper pronunciation for "Caesar" and "Cicero?"

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2001, 09:08 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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As a historian of science who actually hears people say the words Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica fairly often, I have never heard it pronounced other than with the hard "c". Caesar and Cicero, however, get the soft "c".
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  #3  
Old 11-24-2001, 09:08 PM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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In Latin the C is hard as in cat.

One way we probably know this is through misspellings in writings from Latin times.

Since Caesar has 2 syllables the stress accent is on the first. Since Cicero has 3 syllables the stress accent is on the second from the last.

Although the way you've pronounced them is not truely wrong. A lot of nicknames have taken over for the original Latin names. Like we have a lot of stuff by these guys Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. But there names weren't Pliny, they were named Plinius. But we call them Pliny now.
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Old 11-24-2001, 09:11 PM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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Here's another fun one.

Scylla. Y is prnounced like the u in abuse. So it was pronounced in classical Latin as Skyou-la, But now we pronounce it like Silla.
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  #5  
Old 11-24-2001, 11:18 PM
Speaker for the Dead Speaker for the Dead is offline
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That sounds like a harsher language than I thought... I mean, French has many fewer hard syllables as English, and German has far more. I'd always thought Latin sounded more flowing like French. Was I wrong?
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  #6  
Old 11-24-2001, 11:19 PM
Hemlock Hemlock is offline
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Pronunciation of "civitas"

kee-wee-tas - correct
si-vi-tas - wrong

That's what I was taught.
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  #7  
Old 11-25-2001, 12:30 AM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Speaker for the Dead
That sounds like a harsher language than I thought... I mean, French has many fewer hard syllables as English, and German has far more. I'd always thought Latin sounded more flowing like French. Was I wrong?
Yeah, I would say that Latin sounds much more like Spanish then like French.
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  #8  
Old 11-25-2001, 01:47 AM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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I took three years of Latin in HS... a long, long time ago so I've forgotten a lot.

Hard C's, soft J's and W-sounding V's are the way it's done in classical Latin

Church Latin (as it's called) on the other hand has soft C's, hard J's and V-sounding V's.
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  #9  
Old 11-25-2001, 05:59 AM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kimstu
As a historian of science who actually hears people say the words Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica fairly often, I have never heard it pronounced other than with the hard "c". Caesar and Cicero, however, get the soft "c".
Thanks for the replies so far!

OK, so Principia gets the hard "c" and sounds like "prinkipia."

I still confused about "Caesar" and "Cicero," though. I thought "Caesar" had a hard "c" and was similar in pronunciation to the German "Kaiser."

Secondly, there are two "c"s in Cicero. Are they both soft? Both hard? One of each?
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  #10  
Old 11-25-2001, 06:09 AM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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Yes classical Latin has a hard C. And when people addressed Caesar and Cicero to their faces by these names they would say each C as a hard C.

But these are fairly famous names that have never been forgotten. So they names have changed along with Latin. Moving out the classical era into what stuyguy mentioned, Church Latin which has a soft C.

I mentioned the same thing happen to Scylla. And poor Pliny, whose real name is Plinius.

So while a hard c is always correct you pronounce them in the bastardized form or nobody will understand you.
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  #11  
Old 11-25-2001, 07:38 AM
robby robby is offline
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Don't worry--I'm not going to try to order a "Kaiser salad" in a restaurant!

I think I understand. The pronunciation of the names I referred to in my OP have changed over the last 2000 years, because Latin has changed.

BTW, that should have read, "I'm still confused..." in my last post.
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  #12  
Old 11-25-2001, 03:41 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by robby
In referring to Newton's masterpiece Principia (shortened from the full title Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), how is Principia correctly pronounced? Specifically, is the "c" hard or soft?
I would think that the "correct" pronunciation in this case is the one Newton would have used himself, which would almost certainly have been prinsippia.

Right up until the 19th century, few users of Latin gave much thought to how actual Romans would have pronounced what they were reading and writing, and instead pronounced it more or less in line with the general spelling rules of their own language.

To take 'c' (before a slender vowel (i or e) -- pretty much everybody pronounces c before a o u as 'k') as an example, we have:
Classical Latin -- k
Church (Italianate) Latin -- ch
French, English Latin -- s
German and Central European Latin -- ts
Spanish Latin -- s or th

It's possible to hear some of this variation in recordings of classical music -- a German recording of, say, Mozart's Requiem will generally feature the 'ts' pronunciation of cs, whereas an Italian one will have them pronounced as 'ch'...
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2001, 04:06 PM
Khadro Khadro is offline
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stuyguy is absolutely correct. There was a time when my brother and I would get into arguments because he had been taught church Latin, and I had been taught classical Latin.

Same school (basically), but different teachers. The language had no pronunciation exams (unlike Japanese and French) so it really did not matter, but the differences are there.

Imagine how dumb I felt knowing that all along I had been reading Asterix and Obelix incorrectly.
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  #14  
Old 11-26-2001, 08:41 AM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kimstu
As a historian of science who actually hears people say the words Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica fairly often, I have never heard it pronounced other than with the hard "c". Caesar and Cicero, however, get the soft "c".
Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror
I would think that the "correct" pronunciation in this case is the one Newton would have used himself, which would almost certainly have been prinsippia.

Right up until the 19th century, few users of Latin gave much thought to how actual Romans would have pronounced what they were reading and writing, and instead pronounced it more or less in line with the general spelling rules of their own language.
OK, folks, can anyone confirm nonsmokingmirror's contention? How would Newton have pronounced Principia?
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  #15  
Old 11-26-2001, 08:48 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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As everyone above has stated, Church Latin is different from "Classical" Latin. This was confusing for me -- I was the last generation of altar boys that had to learn the Mass in Latin -- Church Latin. Then when I went to study Latin in school, they insisted on Classical Latin pronunciation. "Prin-KIP-ee-yah" doesn't sound right. "Pin-CHIP-ee-yuh" does. I'd be willing to bet that Newton pronounced it that way, even though it's not "Classical".



On the other hand, with "Classical" latin you can see how "Caesar" pronounced "KI-sar" gave rise to both "Kaiser" and "Czar".
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  #16  
Old 11-26-2001, 11:35 AM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Originally posted by CalMeacham
As everyone above has stated, Church Latin is different from "Classical" Latin. <snip>

"Prin-KIP-ee-yah" doesn't sound right. "Pin-CHIP-ee-yuh" does. I'd be willing to bet that Newton pronounced it that way, even though it's not "Classical".
As I've said already, there are more than just two historical ways of pronouncing Latin -- and the "Church Latin" which CalMeacham is talking about is, specifically, an Italian way of pronouncing Latin, spread throughout the world by (as the name suggests) the Catholic Church.

But Newton was most certainly not a Catholic -- indeed, in the 17th/early 18th centuries, it would have been utterly impossible for a Catholic to be a Cambridge Don, as Newton was -- rather, he was a member of the Church of England (more or less an Episcopalian), a Church which was at the time extemely suspicious of anything that smacked of Popery, including, presumably, Italianate Latin.

Having said that, Princhippia sounds right to me too -- but that's because I'm used to singing in Church (Italianate) Latin, which is the normal singing Latin here in Ireland. This is not by any means the same thing as saying that that's how Newton himself would have pronounced the word, though...
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  #17  
Old 11-26-2001, 12:01 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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Quote:
But Newton was most certainly not a Catholic -- indeed, in the 17th/early 18th centuries, it would have been utterly impossible for a Catholic to be a Cambridge Don, as Newton was -- rather, he was a member of the Church of England (more or less an Episcopalian), a Church which was at the time extemely suspicious of anything that smacked of Popery, including, presumably, Italianate Latin.
I'm perfectly aware of this. Nevertheless:

1. British scholars still interacted with their continental counterparts.

2. Until Henry VIII the British scholars were as Catholic as Continentals.

People are very conservative in their language -- I'll bet that they continued using the same pronunciation in the British Isles as they did in (the rest of) Europe, regardless of religious affiliation. I just don't know if the preferred form was "Classical" or "Church" (of whatever form). I'm votin' for Church.
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  #18  
Old 11-26-2001, 12:17 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by robby

Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror
I would think that the "correct" pronunciation in this case is the one Newton would have used himself, which would almost certainly have been prinsippia.
OK, folks, can anyone confirm nonsmokingmirror's contention? How would Newton have pronounced Principia?
First, try common sense -- note, for example, that English words (such as 'principle') borrowed from Latin, many dating from Newton's time, ALL show the soft 'c'.

Note also that the English are a race capable of pronouncing Don Quixote as Don Quicksote :O)

Most importantly, bear in mind that the whole idea of reconstructing classical Latin pronunciation only dates from the 19th century, when practitioners of the new science of linguistics started looking at things like borrowings into other languages at the time classical Latin was spoken (vinum -> wine, etc); up to that time, what would people do but speak Latin words like they would speak their own?

If you're looking for sources, though, there's actually quite a lot of material available on national pronunciations of Latin -- this material tends to be either (1) unbelievably dry and scholarly, or (2) tailored to musicians, choral directors and so on (NB: this does not rule out (1))-- people involved in "authentic" period performances, especially of early music, tend to get VERY obsessive about this kind of stuff... I remember wading through one book called, I think, "Singing in Latin", by Harold Shipman, which goes into the whole matter in exhaustive (and I do mean exhaustive) detail.

But, as a final word on the whole issue, I think that in practice when you're using a dead language, the only thing that really matters about the way you pronounce it is that the people you're pronouncing it to can understand what you're talking about, and from that point of view, any one of prinSipia, prinKipia, prinTSipia and prinCHipia will do just fine.
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  #19  
Old 11-26-2001, 12:40 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by CalMeacham
1. British scholars still interacted with their continental counterparts.
This is quite true, but if they were using Latin, they did so in writing -- French would have been the international spoken language of choice in the relevant period.

Quote:
2. Until Henry VIII the British scholars were as Catholic as Continentals.
This is quite true, but it absolutely doesn't mean they pronounced Latin the same way as people on the Continent, any more than people across Europe all pronounced Latin the same way as each other.

Just as there were (and are) many different languages throughout Europe, there were (and are) many different ways of pronouncing Latin too.

It's very important to bear in mind that the Church Latin we know is quite a recent phenomenon outside Italy -- its great spread dates to the 19th century, which is certainly when it took hold in Ireland (where there was huge Church reform after Catholic Emancipation and the establishment of an official seminary at Maynooth) and the USA, but IIRC Spain and France, for example (where there was less change in the way the Church was run -- it had for several hundred years been more or less 'national' in both cases, and that just continued), kept on their national pronunciations of Latin right up until Vatican II, and certainly in Germany and Central Europe, they still pronounce those cs as TSs -- just listen to any German recording of Bach's B Minor Mass, or any liturgical work (and you can't tell me that's not Church Latin).
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  #20  
Old 11-26-2001, 12:40 PM
Richard Richard is offline
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Latin in the US is usually sung with the Italian pronunciation (at least for church music). In England, Germany, and France, it is generally sung with approximately the pronunciation it would have if it were words of the native language. When singing latin church music by German composers, such as Mozart's Requiem or Bach's B Minor Mass, some US choirs use the German pronunciation. At a party last year honoring the conductor of the Dayton Bach Society, one of the speakers joked that we had learned in school the classical pronunciation "weni, widi, wiki", then learned the church latin "veni, vidi, vichi", and now the conductor was trying to get us to learn the German pronunciation "feni, fidi, fitsi". So depending on which system you use, the "c" in "Principia" could be pronounced as "s", "k", "ts", or "ch". I have commonly heard it with the "s" sound.
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  #21  
Old 11-26-2001, 01:28 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Okay, I can buy the various pronunciations of Principia (I have usually heard it as prinKipia, so I will stick with that).

But how phonetically were Caesar and Cicero's names pronounced? According to earlier posts, Caesar would have a hard c and an accent on the first syllable - but how would the "ae" be pronounced in Classical Latin?

KAY-sar? KI-sar?

And Cicero would have hard c's and be accented on the middle syllable, so it would be:

kih-KARE-o? ky-KARE-o? kih-KER-o?

thanks for the help.
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  #22  
Old 11-26-2001, 02:44 PM
Doobieous Doobieous is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by WordMan

But how phonetically were Caesar and Cicero's names pronounced? According to earlier posts, Caesar would have a hard c and an accent on the first syllable - but how would the "ae" be pronounced in Classical Latin?

KAY-sar? KI-sar?

And Cicero would have hard c's and be accented on the middle syllable, so it would be:

kih-KARE-o? ky-KARE-o? kih-KER-o?

thanks for the help.
Although the populace never spoke Classical Latin around town, at home, etc, an interesting thing to note is that the dipthong "ae" generally became the "Spanish e" (/e/) sound in Vulgar Latin, hence you get the name "Cesar" (accent on the e). I dont have my books here but it in Vulgar Latin, IIRC, "ae" was pronounced like the i in "right" (in SAMPA: /aj/).

Also, in VL, c before i or e became palatalized to /ts/, so in VL cicero might have been said as tsee-tsay-ro /tsitsero/. This eventually evolved into the "ch" (/tS/) sound in Italian, and the "th" (/T/) sound in Spanish (Castilian...Latin American Spanish pronunciation is probably from Andalusian Spanish which uses the s sound).

I hope i'm correct here . I'm at work, and i'm fairly certain what i've written is correct. I'll probably check my books when i get home.
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  #23  
Old 11-26-2001, 05:04 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Doobieous is entirely correct.

For those who really want to know a LOT about the letter C, it has its origins in the Phoenician letter Gimel (where the meaning of the lettername is camel, and the pronunciation is a hard G as in gum), which the Greeks, when they adopted the alphabet (around 700BC), called gamma (looks like a y in lowercase (), uppercase looks like an upsidedown L ()), also pronounced as a hard /G/.

Now, the Etruscans (a people living in central Italy, controlling modern Tuscany and, for lengthy periods, Rome -- they spoke a language that is only partially deciphered and not convincingly related to any other known tongue) borrowed it around 600-500 BC, but it so happened that in their language, there was no sound like the hard /G/ in gum, so they just used the letters (gamma) and K interchangeably to represent the sound /K/, coming to prefer the former...

Only thing was, their form of the letter gamma was curved, and in fact looked like this: C.

So when the Romans started writing their own language (Latin) in about the 4th century BC, they had a choice of two letters (C and K) both with the sound /K/, but no letter to represent the hard /G/ sound, which DID exist in Latin.

So for a while to represent the sound G they used the letter C... but they were clever buggers and eventually added a small stroke to the letter C to make sure that people knew it was to be pronounced as a /G/ instead.

Meanwhile, they were pretty much discarding the letter K, which survives only in a few words like Kalendae... but during all this time they were continuing to pronounce C as a hard /K/ sound.

This is where Doobieous's part of the story comes in... for those who want a more detailed account of the further exciting adventures of the letter C, I'll give you my address and you can mail me $10.

Though I will mention that the only modern European languages where the letter C retains its classical Latin pronunciation are Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic. We Celts don't mess with a good thing.
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  #24  
Old 11-26-2001, 05:25 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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So anyway, the full title (Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica) could be pronounced correctly in any of these ways:

Classical --
P-Hilosop-heeai natoorahlis prinkipiah mat-hematika
(where p-h is pronounced like the ph in taPHouse, and t-h like the th in poTHead, NOT like an f and a th)

Church (Italianate) --
Filosohfiae natoorahlis princhipia matematika

English --
Fillosofiyay natyurahlis (OR natyuraelis) prinsippiuh mathematikuh

Um, I hope that clears things up.
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  #25  
Old 11-26-2001, 05:34 PM
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For what it's worth...

I've studied Latin for 4+ years now, and have a rough understanding of how the various pronunciation systems evolved and were spoken. I think Newton would have pronounced the "c" in Principia as we pronounce an "s" today. Furthermore, I have always heard it pronounced that way; I have never heard it pronounced with a hard "c." As for Cicero and Caesar, in the theoretical perfect pronunciation of around 80 BC to 50 BC in Rome (which is what most people tend to learn as "classical"), all "c's" would be hard and the "ae" would be pronounced as we pronounce the word "eye."
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  #26  
Old 11-26-2001, 05:43 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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This question first came to my attention when I heard Sam Waterson pronounce it with the hard "k" sound in a History Channel commercial.

For me, it's simply a matter that "PRIN-SI-PEA" sounds mathmetical and elegant. "PRIN-KIP-EA" sounds like a character from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!
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  #27  
Old 12-01-2001, 01:59 PM
robby robby is offline
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Thanks for the in-depth responses, everyone!
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  #28  
Old 12-01-2001, 02:58 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
But how phonetically were Caesar and Cicero's names pronounced? According to earlier posts, Caesar would have a hard c and an accent on the first syllable - but how would the "ae" be pronounced in Classical Latin?

KAY-sar? KI-sar?
Looking at "outside sources" (in this case, the New Testament in Greek) we find that the title Caesar was rendered [sym]kaisaros[/sym] (kaisaros). When Julius Caesar was assasinated in 44 BCE, Caesar was merely a family name. It only made the transition from "those guys who are in charge who are named Caesar" to "the guy who is in charge is a Caesar" over the following decades. Yet, by 80 CE (by which time Matthew and Luke are usually considered to have been written), the name was showing up as a title in Greek, spelled as shown above. This would tend to indicate that the name came over without much change into Greek, and that the pronunciation would most likely have been
KI sar.
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  #29  
Old 12-01-2001, 07:20 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kimstu
Caesar and Cicero, however, get the soft "c".
I don't know about "Cicero" but it is my understanding that "Caesar" is pronounced "Kaisar" - or close to it.
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  #30  
Old 12-01-2001, 07:37 PM
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Stress in the name "Cicero"

The real rule for stress in Latin is: the stress in Latin words falls on the penultimate syllable if that syllable is long, and on the antepenultimate syllable if the penult is short.

Since the next-to-last syllable in "Cicero" is a short e, the stress falls on the i. So the stress in Latin fell just as it does in English: SISS-er-o or KICK-er-o.

-m
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  #31  
Old 12-02-2001, 01:47 AM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror
Though I will mention that the only modern European languages where the letter C retains its classical Latin pronunciation are Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic.
Would that be all brythonic Celtic languages, or just Welsh?
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  #32  
Old 12-02-2001, 08:43 AM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cerowyn
Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror
Though I will mention that the only modern European languages where the letter C retains its classical Latin pronunciation are Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic.
Would that be all brythonic Celtic languages, or just Welsh?
Just Welsh -- Cornish used 'k', as does Breton. The important factor here isn't relatedness of language so much as continuity of written tradition.
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  #33  
Old 12-02-2001, 11:17 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror

Though I will mention that the only modern European languages where the letter C retains its classical Latin pronunciation are Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic. We Celts don't mess with a good thing.
I almost coughed up my cocoa when I cachinated and cackled loudly upon reading this. You would have thought I watched someone else sit on a cactus. And I think I could cadge up a pretty good additional cadre of such pronunciations.
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Old 12-03-2001, 06:14 AM
Milton De La Warre Milton De La Warre is offline
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So the cross-pollination of the Latin and Celtic pronounciation threads prompts me to ask:
What is (or perhaps are) the correct pronounciation(s) of Julius Caesar's Gaulish opponent towards the end of the Gallic War? Vercingetorix (I am misspelling this, almost certianly)? Is it as per the Latin pronounciations above, or more "just the way it's written", or something liek French, or what?
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  #35  
Old 12-05-2001, 03:32 PM
nonsmokingmirror nonsmokingmirror is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by David Simmons
Quote:
Originally posted by nonsmokingmirror

Though I will mention that the only modern European languages where the letter C retains its classical Latin pronunciation are Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic. We Celts don't mess with a good thing.
I almost coughed up my cocoa when I cachinated and cackled loudly upon reading this. You would have thought I watched someone else sit on a cactus. And I think I could cadge up a pretty good additional cadre of such pronunciations.
In some of my earlier posts, I was explicit about the fact that what is being talked about is the pronunciation of the letter c before a slender vowel (i or e), which varies widely among European languages' writing systems; I guess I should have reemphasised this point.

If you look back over your list of words where c is pronounced k, you will notice that they all share the property of preceding broad (a o u) vowels. C is pronounced k in this context in the English and many other European spelling systems, though not German (ts) or Turkish (dzh).

Actually, there is one common English word where c does get pronounced k before a slender vowel, and that is 'celt' :O)
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