Online Latin dictionary with IPA pronunciation info?

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by rbrunner, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. rbrunner Senior Member

    German - Switzerland
    I tried to find an online dictionary for Latin that includes clear and reliable pronunciation information given with IPA symbols. Despite several attempts, I was not successful so far. Does anybody here know one?

    I know, Latin pronunciation rules are not that difficult and can be found in several places like in Wikipedia, but already with the pronunciation of the vowel a
    I got into problems:

    Some sources give the pronunciation as /a/ (open front unrounded vowel), but some others as /ɑ/ (open back unrounded vowel), like e.g. this quite interesting Latin-to-IPA transcriber:

    Or do these different pronunciations of the vowel written as "a" simply belong to two different periods or versions of Latin, like classical versus Church Latin?
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    First of all, the grapheme <a> represents two phonemes, /a/ and /ā/. The vowel length is indicated in all Latin dictionaries. Were these front or back vowels? I do not see how anyone can know. Latin is, after all, a dead language.
  3. rbrunner Senior Member

    German - Switzerland
    Well, yes and no. I think Latin is still used to a certain extent by the Catholic Church. Maybe those padres don't know either how the Romans pronounced their a's 2000 years ago but today instruct each other to use back vowels when speaking Latin (for whatever reason) and write their dictionaries accordingly if they use IPA symbols?

    And anyway, if on the one hand linguists can deduce today which of those Roman vowels in which words were long and which were short (by using clues from the daughter languages and vowel changes over time maybe?), is it still impossible to deduce "front" or "back" for the vowel a in Roman times on the other hand? Do I compare apple with oranges here?
  4. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    I rather suspect the /a/ and /a:/ phonemes were low central vowels. Sidney Allen's Vox Latina is always a good place to start for questions like this. I very much doubt that you're going to find a Latin dictionary with IPA pronunciation information for each headword.
  5. relativamente Senior Member

    catalan and spanish
    In fact the pronuntiation of Latin changed over the time. For example the sound H was not pronounced by most people after some times. From the Saint Agustin "confessions" one can deduce that even some lawyers were more affraid of pronouncing the word "man" that is "homo" without pronouncing the sound "H" than they were affraid or sending this man out of the living world.
  6. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The quantity of the vowels can in most cases be deduced from the scansion of Roman poetry.

    Mediaeval/Renaissance/Ecclesiastical pronunciations of Latin are based on the native language of the people using them. French priests sound as though they are speaking French, Italian priests sound as though they are speaking Italian.

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