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Mississippi. Continental scholars moreover are not only evidently and confessedly incorrect in their pronunciation of Latin, but they also, according to their nationalities, differ from one another in their errors. Even the vowels, and still more the diphthongs, fail to find a uniform utterance, while in the pronunciation of the consonants, which are of more importance with reference to the subject before us, no two nations on the continent agree. Cicero is called Cheechayro (Ch as in cheese) in Rome, Sheeshayro in the valley of the Po, Tseetsayro in Berlin, and Seesayro in France. In the vowel sounds it must be confessed that English and American scholars have without doubt departed farther from the classical standards than those on the continent of Europe. But he who should therefore adopt the French or the German or the Italian method as correct, would most manifestly err. And it would be an error to suppose that Continental scholars have adopted their method of pronouncing the Latin vowels from any conviction of its correctness, or its approach to correctness. The truth is, that on this subject all nations are entitled to equal credit, and that is no credit at all, for they all follow, as a general rule, the custom of pronouncing Latin according to the analogies of their several native tongues. The Italian pronounces Latin as he does Italian, the German clothes it in the strange sounds of his strong utterance, the Frenchman mouths it to suit his habit, and the Englishman does the best he can to adapt it to a pronunciation, which, in his own language, almost defies all analogy. It should be said, however, that in no case is the Latin made to bend to all the peculiarities of these modern tongues. Thus the German makes the Latin v sonant, although in his own language it is pronounced like f, and the English scholar always gives ch the sound of k, notwithstanding the varying rule in English words. But admitting some exceptions of this kind the general custom is as we have given it above.
This being so, it cannot be fairly charged on English scholars that they are more careless of Latin prouunciation than others. On the contrary, we think it may be maintained, that in the best schools of England and America, more attention is paid to correctness in this particular than is usual in Germany.
The English system may be at a farther remove from Ciceronian correctness than is the German, so far as the sounds of the vowels are concerned, but it is followed with equal, if not with greater care.
We have spoken thus far only of the prevalent methods of Latin pronunciation. These prevalent methods, however, are by no means universal. In the midst of confessed errors, scholars have not been quietly willing to leave the subject uninvestigated, but it has always presented an open field for classical enterprise and labor, and not a few workers have been engaged upon it. The aim of these investigators has usually been not to follow out some a priori theory, but to find out what was in classical times the actual pronunciation which we have lost; for the cause of all the modern disagreement in theory on this subject is to be found in the simple fact of our ignorance the fact that we do not know how Latin was pronounced by the Romans. And if it could once be satisfactorily determined how the Romans in the age of Augustus uttered the sounds of their language, all disagreement in theory at least, if not in practice, would end.
We have said that there have been many who have undertaken reforms. But, for two reasons, these reforms have not thus far commended themselves to general acceptance. The first reason is found in the doubt whether the investigations which are the basis of the projected changes are reliable, and the second, in the fact that these changes are only partial, even if correct. On the first point it may be said that many persons do not seem to be aware of the difficulties which attend this subject. Had any ingenious grammarian in the times of Augustus, anticipating precisely our doubts and ignorance on this subject at the present time, undertaken to convey to us by description the sounds of the Latin tongue, his task would have been scarcely less difficult than that of him who I would teach the theories of color to the blind. The ancient grammarians did indeed make not a few attempts in this direction, and much that they have left us is valuable; but it is valuable chiefly because it can be referred to that which has been settled independently of them, and they leave many things still in obscurity. For what is more subtle than
sound? It may, indeed, be imitated, but how can it be described? Who would undertake, for instance, without the aid of the living voice or the living features, to convey to the German, living in our own times, and nearly allied as he is to us in his language, the difference between the sounds of th in this and in thin?
Those, therefore, who reflect on the inherent difficulties of this subject, seeing furthermore that those who labor to remove these difficulties do not come to the same results, are slow to adopt new methods, or return to old ones, until they are sure that they are correctly presented.
That most of the projected reforms in Latin pronunciation are only partial, is obvious to those whose attention has been called to them. One proposes, or, rather we should say, many propose, that we should adopt the Italian pronunciation of the vowels, not aware, apparently, that the pronunciation of the consonants is of any importance. Others insist only on the importance of pronouncing according to quantity-not quantity as deciding the place of the accent-but quantity primarily. Of these some are satisfied with indicating quantity by varying the quality of the sound, giving the vowel which is long in quantity the sound which we call long in English, and to the short vowel the sound which we call. short. Thus they would pronounce păter as if it were written patter, and māter as if it were mayter, or (according to the continental method as they term it) mahter. Others, as Professor Haldeman, insist that in pronouncing according to quantity, we should never vary the quality of the sound of the same vowel, but mark the difference in quantity simply by giving more time to the utterance of the long one. He illustrates the difference between the long and short vowels, as he would have them pronounced, by English words as follows:*
A long in arm, short in ǎrt, never as in at.
* Trevelyan Prize Essay, p. 28.
But others reject the attempt to pronounce according to quantity, on the ground that no mode of doing it yet proposed secures a compliance with the law laid down by the ancient grammarians on this point. That rule demands that a long vowel should occupy just twice the time of a short one; and it is inquired how any one can read Latin in evident obedience to that law without falling into a kind of recitative, which it is hard to conceive of as being adapted either to the seriousness or the vehemence of oratory. But it is so evident that quantity must have played a more important part in Roman utterance than the mere fixing the place of accent in words of more than two syllables, that many scholars undertake to pronounce every vowel according to quantity. There is a number of schools in Germany, as well as in England and in our own country, we believe, where this is the rule. But our own observation would lead us to say that in most of these the practice is, to indicate quantity by varying the quality of the sound and not merely by varying the measure of time as in the scheme of Professor Haldeman. It cannot be denied that this rule well carried out, although involving, it may be, many errors and requiring great labor in the instruction of youth, and likely to be forever defective by reason of the doubts which exist respecting the quantity by nature of a great many syllables in the language, yet secures better than any other method a general knowledge of the quantity of Latin words. Habit comes in to confirm and familiarize what observation teaches. But, as we have said, there are many syllables, the quantity of which cannot easily be settled. The poets in arranging a spondee, for instance, are satisfied with two syllables which are long by position. But he who pronounces according to quantity must know whether those syllables, which are long by position, are also long by nature. And as in many cases the vowels in question are always found before two consonants, the usage of the poets, our great reliance in inquiries respecting quantity, can give us no light. We do not see, therefore, how any scheme of pronunciation by quantity can, with the present knowledge of the Latin language, fail of being partial.
But not all are content with the attempt merely to pronounce according to quantity on the one hand, nor according to the Continental method on the other. Professor Richardson, in his Plea for the restoration of the true system of Latin pronunciation, proposes to embody all the results of the investigations of scholars on this subject, and introduce at once into our schools the true classical pronunciation of the golden age. He believes that there has been investigation enough, and insists upon "the clear and abundant proofs by which the correct sounds of the Roman letters have been ascertained." To a fancied inquirer, who doubts whether the Roman pronunciation can, after an interval of thirteen centuries in which the language has been a dead language, be satisfactorily ascertained, he replies that "every one who has properly investigated this subject, will answer this question in the affirmative." Nor does he speak in general terms. His system is entire and complete, and its "exceeding simplicity and regularity render it, fortunately, an easy thing to exhibit, and of course easy to teach and to learn."
If this is so, is it not surprising that it should not have been adopted by some at least of the scholars of Europe,—that it should have been left for Rochester University and Professor Richardson, its teacher of Latin, to enjoy "the honor of taking the lead in Latin instruction, by rejecting the barbarous jargon which has hitherto usurped its name and place"? (Prize Essay, p. 18). We do not say that the claim of this honor for an American professor is not well-founded, but is it not surprising that it should be so? Zumpt and Lachman and Madvig and other Latinists whom the world knows of, must have heard of what was going on in the learned world. Nay, they even quote from the authorities which are made the basis of this restored system of classical pronunciation, which is so complete and simple, and yet they stuck to their "barbarous jargon" to the last. But Professor Richardson does not profess to have made any investigations himself,he only aims to present a succint statement of the results of the investigations of others, and particularly those set forth in Schneider's Elementarlehre der Lateinischen Sprache,—a work