[LMB] RE: (news) Blackstone note -- Memory, HH

James Burbidge james.burbidge at gmail.com
Wed Mar 14 18:12:24 GMT 2007


On 14/03/07, Peter H. Granzeau <pgranzeau at cox.net> wrote:

> What I know of Latin pronunciation does not indicate an "eye"
> pronunciation of an i, ever.  I think that "Den dare ee eye" would be
> an English pronunciation of the word, and not even a good one, as I
> don't know of any common English words ending in an "i" which
> pronounces it "eye" (excepting the first person singular subjective
> case pronoun, of course).  I don't know what pronunciation the Romans
> gave words ending in "ii", but I bet it was a long "eee", or possibly
> a double "ee ee".
>

The standard English pronunciation of classical Latin, down to the
middle of the twentieth century, used an "eye" sound for long i, just
as it used a soft (Englsh -- i.e. "s") c sound for c before a front
vowel.  This is also the pronunciation used for Law Latin (e.g.
"reese" for "res") and for Latin words absorbed into English (e.g.
Caesar, plus two words which reverse meaning in English if you
pronounce them with their classical values -- alumni, alumnae).  This
is covered in Fowler's _Modern English Usage_.

This was the pronunciation which allowed the English delegates at the
Congress of Vienna to use Latin as a "private" language.

James


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