“Parce” pronunciation
  • If I were to go by my instincts from Italian and the charts that tell you how to pronounce Ecclesiastical Latin, I would say that “parce” is pronounced “parcheh,” approximately, but I have been told and some recordings seem to use “partseh.”

    I am sure this red meat for some but any thoughts?

  • WGS
    Posts: 284
    Go with your instincts and the charts!

    This reminds me of an elementary school teacher in the 1940s who directed us to pronounce "peninsula" as "peninshula".
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,017
    You'll hear a similar difference in pronunciations of "annunciato" -- viz.
    "annunchiato" and "annuntsiato" -- not surprising since some (non-romance) European languages pronounce "c" as "ts".
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz tomjaw
  • Western Slavs! Although that’s where my family is from and I have been there a couple of time, it never occurred to me that that might be the reason.

    Regional differences. I am sure they were much stronger back before recordings—-otherwise, where would Romance languages have come from? But they live on.

    That’s a good answer.

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,017
    Also germanic languages.
  • An even stronger reason—how many German choirs are there?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,146
    Imposing Italianate Latin on the Universal Church is part of 19th & 20th century ultramontanism: It may be law, but it is law that has never been received, since the the Germans and Slavs still pronounce Latin as they have been for centuries, and the French still sound French, etc.

    In my choir I have had pronunciations ranging from "par-cheh" (Anglophone Americans) to "par-sheh" (a Francophone, ex-Monk) to "par-tseh" (native Polish-speakers).
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,773
    I dispute that the French sound especially French in terms of phonetics. Do they follow the book? No. The Laus in ecclesia book has some very interesting notes on the vowels, which basically no one follows. Do some choirs sound more French? Sure. But do they use French phonetics? Not really — it is in ambiguous cases only like in “psalmus” whwre rhe “p” dropped out of Italian but where the sound exists in other languages, both in derived words, as in French, or in unrelated ones such that the singers can pronounce the word without too much trouble. It is thus unlike the Germanophone world (and places under its thumb like parts of Poland) which have much more variation that’s not really ambiguous for anyone following Roman pronunciation and how Latin itself evolved into the other Romance languages.

    Or put it another way, if the speakers do use the “French” pronunciation, it’s from a failure to internalize the Latin, just like they would have to master the sounds of any other language.
  • We had a Latin professor in our schola who was very particular about pronunciation. We pronounced it “parcheh”.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    I use parcheh
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    And, of course, the sound given to "e" in Romance Latin is not nearly as open as in American English—more akin to the vowel in "chair".
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,017
    I'm parchel to parcheh, too.
  • All very useful and humorous in a good way.

    I’ll forestall any flaminess by saying that I don’t know linguistic terms but my French pronunciation has drawn praise from French speakers, not that I don’t always find something new to trip me up. My way—surely not linguistically up to snuff—is to tell people struggling with French pronunciation that the “u” is “heavily umlauted.” And I hear that heavily umlauted “u” in their chants.

    I know American choirs who achieve perfection. There is a stunning performance of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus by the Concordia Choir. All the kids’ mouths are in perfect alignment.

    All it takes is months of preparation.

    Barring that, you get a local flavor.

    MatthewRoth, your comment about “just like they would have to master the sounds of any other language” is dead on. I know people who think that somehow Latin flows in the veins of something they call “Europeans”, whereas my Italian acquaintances all exclaim about how hard they find Latin, when the subject comes up. And of course as noted, when the many various distinct peoples in Europe spoke Latin, they all spoke it differently in their daily lives.

    Many thanks.

  • “The Laus in ecclesia book has some very interesting notes on the vowels, which basically no one follows. “

    Love that.
  • While we're on the subject of funny pronunciations, I'm told that the proper pronunciation of "h", in mihi and nihil is "K". I think that what is aimed at here is an aspirate h, but the Liber won't give direct evidence that I'm correct. What does the readership do?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,017
    "Ik bin ein Hamburger."
    "Stimmt. Aber ish bin ein Frankfurter."

    Hmmm. Sounds like two of the wurst brats.
  • Chris, if you Google this forum and that very question, you’ll find that I posted it some years ago. Like maybe 10 years ago. The answer is that made sense or that the H dropped out of Italian pronunciation and so you were stuck with singing syllables that all sounded the same. I’ll find the thread and you can sort through it.
  • CHGiffen—too bad there isn’t a “groan” emoji.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • TCJ
    Posts: 861
    The resident seminary Latin teacher at our parish would say to use "parcheh."
  • There appears to be a strong cohort of "say Miki and Nikil because the Liber says so" in that thread. There is also a justification of German pronunciation not being what it is in the Liber.

    Your "undergraduate student" may have had a head filled with himself, but even such people are right on rare occasions.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,089
    For English polyphony does it make sense to use the traditional English Latin pronunciation? In which case presumably /'pɑːrsiː/, "parsee".

  • Liam
    Posts: 4,689
    Only in England. And maybe at that. Would be rather, well, twee to adopt it in the USA, FWIW.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,112
    When I took a semester of Latin in college, we were instructed to say the 'h' in mihi and nihil as 'k'. Those are the only Latin words where you do that.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,089
    Well, I've heard directors deliberately choose traditional pronunciations to match the period of the music. Not in church, though. The Carmina Burana in mediaeval German pronunciation comes to mind.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,773
    no, it's definitely "k" nowadays. What was going on in the "Middle Ages" is anyone's (informed) guess.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    The words were originally spelt "nichil" and "michi", with the C dropped over time. Italians would this pronounce it with a hard K, and Germans would read it as an Ich-laut.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,155
    I don't see evidence, in Lewis & Short, that the words were spelt with a c in Classical sources. Rather that they were Classically pronounced with a hard h, and the c was added in Late Latin to show this. :- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mihi#Latin
  • This abstract gives a good overview of the mihi/nihil issue:

    If one is to deviate from the Liber pronunciation on mihi/nihil, why not go historical in other cases too? For instance, ce/ci as tse/tsi instead of tshe/tshi, sce/sci as se/si instead of she/shi, and xce/xci as kse/ksi instead of kshe/kshi? To the original post, the Italianate Roman pronunciation is partshe (flipped r please!); the Carolingian era pronunciation was probably partse, which has been retained in the German and other central European pronunciations.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,605
    Interesting link: Brucknerite that I am, I had never before considered the possibility of irreprehensibilis in only 5 syllables!
  • Here's a contemporary version that sets it as six:
    I don't think there's historical precedent for a crasis there in chant, but you'll see that one MS after another spells it inreprehensibilis:
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw