字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント Rome fell in the year 476. The microphone wasn't invented until the 1870's. That's quite a gap. And yet we still know how the old Romans pronounced their Latin. Prove it? Okay! Catholic school. Literature class. My teacher is Father, uh... let's call him Father F. A fellow language-head himself, Father F has a much fuller experience bar than me. Respect. It's first thing in the morning, and that schoolroom sunlight is barely starting to flip the activation switches in my brain. Languagey words drift in from across the class. "Consonants", "Italian", "pronunciation"... up goes my sensor. One kid's over there talking with the father. Best I can recall, it went like this. "So, uhm, how do we know what Latin sounded like? I always thought Caesar's quote was vennee veedee veechee, but some Latin student told me v's were w's and c's were k's." "Hah, no. Cmon, can you imagine any good Italian saying wennee, weedee, weekee?" I'm sitting there, sure this is wrong somehow. See, my first linguistic obsession was reading up on how Latin became the Romance languages. So why was I suddenly speechlessly tongue-tied? Well, young self, it took years, but I'm back to help. We think we know what Caesar's Latin sounded like, and that wasn't it. We know because, well, sometimes they told us. Quintilian was a smart guy from Roman Spain who moved to Rome, managed to survive the off-the-wall Year of the Four Emperors and then founded a school of rhetoric. Also, he hated the letter k. "So k, I think shouldn't be used at all... the letter c keeps its strength before all the vowels." If he's saying c always made a k sound, that means it didn't have that second soft pronunciation it does in English or Italian. But that's one grammarian's say-so. Things could look different when all the evidence comes in. Which is exactly what one Czech linguist claims about the letter "r". Your Latin textbook says it's a trill. She argues it's a tap ("eddeh", "re"). We're just going to have to piece the evidence together ourselves, starting with ancient authors writing in "good" Latin. The first clue they give us is the alphabet, which was meant to fit Latin sounds. You hear that, English?!? So when they wrote words differently, like ÁNVS, ANVS and ANNVS, it's a face-value hint that they they said them differently. Meaning that long "aah", which sometimes has this little "apex", doesn't sound the same as short "ah". And double consonants don't sound like single consonants. In the hands of Virgil the epic poet, that see-'n-say alphabet is jammed into a precise structure: poetic meter. From that meter we can figure out which syllables are long and which are short, which helps confirm which vowels are long and which ones are short. So some i's, sorry, "ee"'s, are longer than other "ee"'s. But go look for short "ee" on inscriptions and you'll find something interesting. Or won't find. Because right where it's supposed to be, there could be an "É" instead. Why? Well, it makes sense IF short "ee" wasn't only shorter than long "eeee" but it also had a different sound, a sound closer to "é", kind of "ihh". Romans left even more clues when they marched right into foreign language territory and got raided by Germanic tribes. Linguistic raids. "We're all taking words, guys! What do you want?" "Oy! Bring me back some wine!" "I want a wall!" Yep, those are Latin words. And bad accents. And they make it look like v's were w's at the time, something we'd already be suspicious of from poetry and word pairs. So yes, good Latin was spreading, but back home the Roman rabble was busy turning it bad! Good Latin writers noticed though, and even included characters speaking the bad Latin, the sermo vulgaris, especially for a good laugh. But bad Latin can still be good evidence. Down in Pompeii, before the tragedy, a random guy comes along and graffitis the place to make sure we'd forever know that he stopped here with his brother. He does something vulgar though. He drops the h in the word "here". Ah, just a little mistake, right? Later you find a very dusty, very old book full of cranky corrections, telling you that the word for old is "vetulus" not "veclus", to say "hostiae" not "ostiae", and "hermeneumata" not "erminomata". Come on, people! Get it together! Looks like the Pompeii bros weren't the only ones dropping their aitches. These mistakes are an interesting kind of proof. I mean you probably wouldn't beg me to stop dropping my h's unless people were indeed dropping their h's. But what was once linguistic heresy eventually turned into Romance... languages. These all have something to teach us about Latin. Wait, how can new languages be evidence for a dead one? Take Spanish or Italian e. It comes from Latin "e", but it also comes from short "i" and not long "i". Kind of like those inscriptions! It's even more evidence for short "ih" versus long "eeee". Also, sí. Not... no, the LETTER c. The Romance languages still love it, but before e's and i's it makes a soft sound. Except in Sardinian. So while good Italians say vincere, in Sardinian, conquering is vìnchere. Now Romance palatalization is another story, but historical linguistics says these languages are whispering at us, "Latin c always sounded like k, but most of us changed." They're thumbs-upping Quintilian. See, younger self, all of this is why when Romans talked about conquering, they said ['wɪnkærɛ], and why Caesar's phrase was /we:ni:/, /wi:di:/, /wi:ki:/. Now before you go around enforcing reconstructed pronunciation on us, getting the pope to speak like a real Caesar, think about Latin's living history. This was but one part of the story. A pretty amazing one though. Stick around and subscribe for language.