Vowels Vowels in Latin had only two possible pronunciations, long

Vowels in Latin had only two possible pronunciations, long and short. Long vowels were generally held about
twice as long as short vowels, like half notes and quarter notes in music. In this book and in most beginning
textbooks (though not in actual classical texts), long vowels are marked with a "macron," or "long mark."
Vowels typed without a macron are short.
Students should regard macrons as part of the spelling of a word, since the differences of pronunciation they
indicate are often crucial to meaning (just as the "silent -e" at the end of the English word cape indicates that the
vowel -a- in that word is pronounced long and refers to a very different garment than the word cap, which lacks
the -e and thus is pronounced with a short -a- sound).
For example, liber is a noun meaning book, while līber is an adjective meaning free.
The pronunciations are approximately as follows:
ā as in father : dās, cāra
ē as in they : mē, sēdēs
ī as in machine: hīc, sīca
ō as in clover: ōs, mōrēs
ū as in rude: tū, sūmō
ÿ Dionÿsius (the y should have a macron instead of a diaresis)
a as in Dinah: dat, casa
e as in pet: et, sed
i as in pin: hic, sicca
o as in orb, off: os, mora
u as in put: tum, sum
y as in French tu, or German über: tyrannus
Note the pairs of words above that are identical except for vowel length (hic/hīc, os/ōs).
Latin has the following six diphthongs, combinations of two vowel sounds that were collapsed together into a
single syllable:
ae as in ai in aisle: cārae, saepe
au as ou in house: aut, laudō
ei as ei in reign: deinde
eu as Latin e + u, pronounced rapidly as a single syllable: seu.
(The sound is not found in English and is rare in Latin.)
oe as oi in oil: coepit, proelium
ui as in Latin u + i, spoken as a single syllable like Spanish muy, or like English gooey, pronounced quickly as
a single syllable. This diphthong occurs only in: huius, cuius, huic, cui, hui.
Elsewhere the two letters are spoken separately as in: fuit, frūctuī
Latin consonants had essentially the same sounds as the English consonants with the following exceptions:
bs and bt were pronounced ps and pt: (urbs, obtineō); otherwise Latin b had the same sound as our English
letter b : bibēbant.
Latin c (English c) was always hard as in can, never soft as in city: cum, cīvis, facilis.
g was always hard as in get, never soft as in gem: glōria, gerō. When it appeared before n, the letter g
represented a nasalized ng sound as in hangnail: magnus.
h was a breathing sound, as in English, only less harshly pronounced: hic, haec.
Latin i (English i) represented both a vowel and a consonant sound. i usually functioned as a consonant with the
sound of y as in yes when used before a vowel at the beginning of a word: iūstus
Between two vowels within a word i served in double capacity: as the vowel i forming a diphthong with the
preceding vowel, and as the consonant like English y: reiectus ( = rei yectus) maior ( = mai yor), cuius ( = cui
yus.) Otherwise it was usually a vowel.
Consonantal i regularly appears in English derivatives as a j, a letter added to the alphabet in the Middle Ages;
hence maior = major, Iūlius = Julius.
m usually had the sound it has in English, pronounced with the lips closed: monet. There is some evidence,
however, that in at least certain instances final m, that is, m at the end of a word, following a vowel, was
pronounced with the lips open, producing a nasalization of the preceding vowel: tum, etiam.
q, as in English, is always followed by consonantal u, the combination having the sound kw: quid, quoque.
r was trilled; the Romans called it the littera canīna, because its sound suggested the snarling of a dog: Rōma,
s was always voiceless as in see, never voiced as in our word ease: sed, posuissēs, mīsistis.
t always had the sound of t as in tired, never of sh as in nation or ch as in mention: taciturnitās, nātiōnem,
v had the sound of our w: vīvō, vīnum.
x had the sound of ks as in axle, not of gz as in exert: mixtum, exerceō.
ch represented Greek chi and had the sound of ckh in block head, not of ch in church: chorus, Archilochus.
ph represented Greek phi and had the sound of ph in uphill, not of ph in our pronunciation of philosophy:
th represented Greek theta and had the sound of th in hot house, not of th in thin or the: theatrum.