Latin pronunciation
  • henry
    Posts: 242
    Please help settle a dispute: the world "clemens". Isn't it pronounced "clehmens?" I've heard "claymens" , but I was taught that the "e" in Latin is pronounced "eh".
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
    It Italianate Church Latin, it's pronounced the same as the first two syllables of clemency in English (including the unvoiced s).
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    In the Roman Rite in the USA, we'd normally use Italianate Church Latin pronunciation, not, say, English or German Latin. Comparison:
  • Quick solution: order many mainstream hymnals and you won’t need to deal with the Latin issue.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I would say most people in the USA pronounce it "clehmens" but soft vowels are almost non existent every where else- however when Americans pronounce a hard vowel its often much more exaggerated. Thus, technically speaking "claymens" but its a very slight emphasis. You should shoot for somewhere in between if its Americans we are dealing with.

    I have been told many times, the main problem with American pronunciation is that we are lazy with the shape of our lips.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    The functional reason many American church choir directors try to avoid unnecessary diphthongs like "clay" is that they have a tendency to go flat in the mouth of a typical volunteer American church chorister.
  • henry
    Posts: 242
    But there must be exceptions to always pronouncing "e" as "eh". What about "Salve" or "Christe"?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    As a Brit, I don't know how you pronounce 'eh'. When it stands alone, as it does in English colloquial meaning "I didn't catch what you said" it rhymes with 'pay'. As indeed does Salve.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,167
    It depends what exactly you mean by "eh". Sometimes people mean the sound in "bed", sometimes that in "bared" without the -r- (as I’d pronounced it in my non-rhotic south English), but “eh” also spells an English word, pronounced as a diphthong or even triphthong.

    I think you can safely say that the -e-'s in clemens and salve and Christe are all exactly the same value. (They are all long vowels except in Christe which is short. But Ecclesiastical Latin doesn't have vowel length.)

  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
    But there must be exceptions to always pronouncing "e" as "eh". What about "Salve" or "Christe"?
    E is never a diphthong in Church Latin.
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  • For those who understand spanish- here is another version of pronunciations. Although I really disagree with the mihi pronunciation here. For me thats just because of a natural thing spanish people tend to do with that particular letter combination.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • So, I contacted one of our Sisters who actually has her doctorate in Latin. And she sent me this:

    a is pronounced as in father: sanctam (sahngk-tahm).
    e is pronounced as in egg: ante (ahn-teh).
    i is pronounced as in machine: filii (fee-lee-ee).
    y is pronounced the same as i: Kyrie (kee-ree-eh).
    o is pronounced as in tone: omnia (ohm-nee-ah).
    u is pronounced as in ruler: unum (oo-noom).
    Note: When two vowels appear together, each is pronounced: mei (meh-ee). (This rule does not apply in the cases of certain diphthongs—see below.)

    ae and oe are pronounced like e: saeculum (seh-koo-loom).
    au and eu are treated as single syllables, but each vowel is pronounced distinctly.
    In singing, the first vowel is sustained, as in other combinations of two vowels:
    lauda (lah-oo-dah).

    The consonants b, d, f, k, l, m, n, p, s, t, and vare pronounced as in English.
    c before e, i, y, ae, oe is pronounced ch: coelo (cheh-loh); in all other cases,
    c is pronounced k: cantus (kahn-toos).
    cc before e, i, y, ae, oe is pronounced tch: ecce (eht-cheh).
    ch is pronounced k: cherubim (keh-roo-beem).
    g before e, i, y, ae, oe is soft (as in gel): genitum (jeh-nee-toom); otherwise, g is hard (as in go): gaudeamus (gah-oo-deh-ah-moos).
    gn is pronounced ny: agnus (ah-nyoos).
    h is mute, except in special instances, when it is pronounced h as in English (however it is more like a mix between h and K close to the Spanish J: mihi (mee-hee) and nihil (nee-heel).
    j is pronounced as y: Jesu (yeh-soo).
    qu is pronounced as kw: qui (kwee).
    r is lightly rolled with the tongue.
    sc before e, i, y, ae, oe is pronounced sh: ascendit (ah-shehn-deet).
    th is pronounced as if the h were absent, as in Thomas.
    ti before a vowel and after any letter except s, t,or x is pronounced tsee: gratia (grah-tsee-a).
    x is pronounced ks: ex (ehks).
    xc before e, i, y, ae, oe is pronounced ksh: excelsis (ehk-shehl-sees).
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    I understood the initial question to be about closed (/e, o/) and open (/ɛ, ɔ/). One might try to pronounce both the O's of Domino the same, but is the effort worth it? The door-stopping tome to settle most of these arguments is Copeman's Singing in Latin, or, Pronunciation explor'd (1990), and in the chapter on Italy he takes pleasure in observing that while Italian choirs are taught that there are only 5 Latin vowels, in actual practice they employ the 7 of their vernacular: a, è, é, i, ò, ó, u.
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
    while Italian choirs are taught that there are only 5 Latin vowels, in actual practice they employ the 7 of their vernacular
    None of which is a diphthong. Ay as in clay is.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    Was the initial question about diphthongs? "Ay" minus the Y is as close as English offers to é; one teacher at the SF conservatory actaully uses the phrase "Attention K-mart Shoppers" to teach the closed vowel.
    Thanked by 1FSSPmusic
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    Do you mean clemens with the first e pronounced like clam? (very different from clay)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    Is that a petition for clemency?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    I think Henry is right about /klɛmɛns/ and /Kriste/, with /klemɛns/ being the German variant.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    "Is that a petition for clemency?"

    I don't know, but this time of year, this is what a lot of people are petitioning for about 20 miles from me, especially big bellied clams (so-called "clam strips" need not bother for recognition):

    3576 x 1074 - 7M
  • From the Oxford Classical Dictionary entry "Pronunciation, Latin":
    Whilst the short ă and the long ā were of similar quality, the other long vowels were distinctly higher than their short counterparts. In fact, in the Romance languages, the mid-long ē and ō developed in the same way as the high short ĭ and ŭ. The approximate values of these vowels in terms of modern languages are as follows: ă/ā as first/second vowels of Italian amare; ĭ/ī as in Eng. bit/beat; ŭ/ū as in Eng. put/fool; ĕ as in Eng. pet; ē as in Fr. gai or Ger. Beet; ŏ as in Eng. pot; ō as in Fr. beau or Ger. Boot.

    Note how the authors of the article (W.S. Allen and J.G.F. Powell) were hard-pressed to give an English word that has the sound ē. As a U.S. English speaker, it is virtually impossible for me to pronounce the sound without adding a -y to it and pronouncing it as a diphthong. In the Latin word clemens (nom/voc sing), both vowels are long. Be careful, as in other forms of the word, the e after the m is short (clēmĕntem).