Latin Pronunciation Trouble Spots
  • Maureen
    Posts: 645
    As we know, part of language acquisition is generalizing what we already know to what we don't know. That's why some kids hear "the peace of Christ" as "the pizza crust", etc.

    So I recently heard about a kid solemnly singing "Donut nobis pacem"... and it got me wondering. Are there certain Latin words that kids are prone to mishearing? (And are the results funny?)
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    "a-do-ra-MOOOSE-te" got me into a lot of trouble in the seventh grade.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Heaven's telephone number: "et cum spiri two two oh"
  • Folks who insist on over-softening the 'Ch' of 'Christe' run the risk of it sounding like 'grease stain'...
    Don Roy, that is very funny!
  • JL
    Posts: 153
    Hearing Mozart's "Ave verum corpus" for the first time at the tender age of eleven, I distinctly heard the choir sing, "Not today, Maria, not today."

    But Latin hardly has a corner on this one. My favorite may be the story of the seminarian who thought Edward Perronet had written "All hail the power of Jesus's Name / Let angels' prostates fall."
  • There's always the classic "Hosanna in 'egg shells' -is."

    Sam Schmitt
  • "God rest ye Merry" from WLP v2 "the which his mother Mary." never sounds right to me.
  • This is a bit over the top, but I remember an article over a decade old in ACDA's "Choral Journal" wherein Nina Gilbert dealt with this phonetic disconnect and chose the phrase "fac me" as her classic example.
    I've never forgotten that. Everytime (which is often) I program "Adoro te" I forget that issue and while singing/leading it, just pray that it breezes by the modern, prurient-oriented ear. Yeesh.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,640
    My choir refers to the Mozart Ave Verum Corpus as the "very possum" song.

    A fellow I know who is a classical Latin scholar, gets annoyed over church Latin pronunciations. It seems church Latin is viewed in classical Latin circles as a decadent, low-class dialect.
  • Ah, Ralph, it must be that you did not grow up Anglo-Catholic and learn to parce the grammar of the BCP and Victorian Christmas carols! (Actually, I am amazed that some publisher's minion did not 'update' the grammar of that one, given the usual sorts of abhominations masquerading as appropriately modern language.)

    There is also the British pronunciation of "Venite"--Veh-NIGHT-ee, which I recall some of my fellow young (American) choristers thinking was "the nightie". That visiting priest didn't just refer to PJs???

    Sam, when my late father heard singers singing 'ex-CHEL-sis' he would always murmur, "Gesundheit!"

    The fractured-English one I heard ages ago, observing a rehearsal of a junior-high honor choir: Mendelssohn's "He watching over Israel", sung with inappropriate elisions of final consonants: "He, watching over Israel, slumber snot nor sleeps." Guaranteed giggles in that set!

    Not exactly a misunderstanding, but a moment of mirth: here in North Carolina, there is a tendency in Latin to say/sing "au" as if it rhymes with "OW!" and "ah" as "aaaaa". So my schola members and I do tend to giggle when someone lapses and sings "LOUD-ah-te" or "Saaaaaal-ve". I personally have lost it (and was and am grateful for choir lofts) when our young, earnest, devout servers occasionally intone 'Petro et POW-lo"; St. Paul apparently packs quite a punch! But I am well-known for 'not being from 'round here' and having an irrepressible sense of humor!
  • cir-cu-i-tus=cheer-koo-ee-toos
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,981
    Charles, I had a young singer who became very scrupulous on that point. He couldn't sing it--and not because of giggles, but blushes.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    so far my favorite latin word ive come up with in the graduale is uniqunuorum...unicorn!

    its just fun to say.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    A couple of weeks ago one of the propers, I forget which, had the word "usquequaque", which just broke everyone up when they got to it.