Appendix:Latin pronunciation

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See also Wiktionary:About Latin and Category:Latin language.

Latin vowels[edit]

The table below gives the IPA equivalents for Latin vowels. Vowel duration varies for "short" vowels according to the number of following consonants.

ā ē ī ō ū y
long ʏː
short a e i o u ʏ
diphthongs ae au ei eu (rare) oe ui (rare)
ae, ai oe ɰɪ when short,

uːɪ when long

I and J[edit]

In Latin, the letter written as I in ancient times was either a vowel or a consonant, depending on position and the word, the vowel being most common. The two forms had different pronunciation and different metrical treatment in poetry.

A modern typographical convention (originating in medieval scripts) is to write J for the consonant form and leave I for the vowel. This is applied both to ordinary words and proper nouns. A similar modern convention exists in writing the vowel V as U (see U and V for more). But while U is very commonly written, the use of J is more variable.

Generally speaking, modern Latin-English dictionaries always write J; for example, the substantial 1879 dictionary of Lewis and Short. Reprints of classical works on the other hand sometimes write J and sometimes write I, with the use of I being in a sense deliberately classical (though adherence to classical conventions rarely extends say to all-capitals and no spaces between words, as actually found in originals).

Pronunciation[edit]

As a vowel,

  • (Classical): IPA: short /i/, long /iː/

As a consonant,

  • (Classical): IPA(key): /j/, but doubled /jj/ when between vowels

U and V[edit]

In Latin, the letter written as V in ancient times represented either a vowel or a consonant depending on its position and the word. These two forms had distinct pronunciations and different metrical treatment in poetry.

A modern typographical convention is to write U for the vowel and leave V as the consonant. Generally speaking dictionaries always write U this way and the majority of reprints of classical texts adapt them and show U too. The use of V for the vowel in new works is usually a deliberately classical style or appearance, and that includes for example in inscriptions on new monuments and the like.

Pronunciation[edit]

As consonant,

  • (Classical): IPA: /w/

As vowel,

  • (Classical): IPA: short /u/, long /uː/

Consonants[edit]

  • Consonants: b (ps, pt) k d f g (ŋ) h j k l m n p kw r s t w ks z kʰ pʰ tʰ

Pronunciation format[edit]

Some example entries for Latin pronunciation given in IPA.

/ˈnoː.mi.nis/

  • Other: ˈ ˌ ː .

IPA resources[edit]