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

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