Reblogged: A is for … the Ancient Roman Alphabet!

Great post yesterday by Peter Kruschwitz, giving one Roman’s account of the phonology of Latin – click through to the original post for the English translation. The explanations range from pretty much accurate, to fairly nonsensical (what’s going on with G?). I rather enjoyed the reason for the “abhorrence” of Z as well, which seems to abandon the scientific description all together. Thanks for sharing, Peter!

The Petrified Muse

Ever wondered what Latin sounded like?

The Roman alphabet. – Image source: The Roman alphabet. – Image source:

Here is how Martianus Capella, a writer of the early fifth century A. D., describes the phonetics of the Latin alphabet  (De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii 3.261; cf. Gramm. VIII 307-8 K.):

A sub hiatu oris congruo solo spiritu memoramus.
B labris per spiritus impetum reclusis edicimus;
C molaribussuper linguae extrema appulsis exprimitur;
D appulsu linguae circa superiores dentes innascitur;
E spiritus facit lingua paululum pressiore,
F dentes labrum inferius deprimentes,
G spiritus cum palato; H contractis paululum faucibus ventus exhalat,
I spiritus prope dentibus pressis.
K faucibus palatoque formatur.
L lingua palatoque dulcescit.
M labris imprimitur.
N lingua dentibus appulsa collidit.
O rotundi oris spiritu comparatur.
P labris spiritus erumpit,
Q appulsu palati ore restricto.
R spiritum lingua crispante corraditur.
S sibilum facit dentibus verberatis.
T appulsu linguae dentibusque impulsis extunditur.

View original post 306 more words

Dedication to Mefitis

    μεfιτει μαρασ σταλλιεσ βρα τεισ δατ[α]σ To Mefitis, Maras Stallies, for grace given Oscan inscription in the Greek alphabet. Rossano di Vaglio, 325-275 BC. Imagines Italicae: Potentia 13; Sabellische Texte Lu 16. This is an inscription on stone, found at the sanctuary site of Rossano di Vaglio (pictured below) in central Lucania, modern day... Continue Reading →

So where is Narnia?

I'm still working away at my maps of the languages of ancient Italy. Going through all the examples of Greek inscriptions from Italy in the SEG, I found one from Narnia. I'd come across the ancient city of Narnia (modern-day Narni) when I was writing my book, and then kind of forgotten about it until this... Continue Reading →

From Oscan hirpus to English hearse

Myriapod Productions have released a rather lovely video in their "Mysteries of Vernacular" series tracing the etymology of the English word hearse back to the Oscan word hirpus, 'wolf'. (This was discovered and sent to me by my friend Julia, so many thanks to her! I have included some pictures of coins below, because she likes coins.) This... Continue Reading →

The Women’s Classical Committee UK

Over the past few months, I've been involved with the formation of the Women's Classical Committee UK. There's been an organisation for women in Classics in the US for a long time (the Women's Classical Caucus), and there's also an equivalent organisation in Australia and New Zealand. So when Liz Gloyn (among others) suggested a... Continue Reading →

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