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I was taught when I took it that medieval Latin was pronounced differently
from classical Latin; the "v"s are /v/, the "c"s before front vowels were
pronounced as in Italian /tS/, and so forth.  Pilate's Latin is on the
late side, but hardly, yet, medieval.  But I am unsure when this change in
pronunciation took hold--I imagine as the romance languages changed from
Vulgar Latin to separate languages in the diaspora of the Roman Empire.
It could be earlier, though.  Language change tends to move in fits and
starts and to be dependent on matters of class and region.  So, in the
face of our ignorance and the lack of recording materials:  way-nee weedy
week-y as pronounced by Caesar (the "c"s were hard, too, I was taught, in
classical Latin, even before front vowels), but vaynee veedee veechee by
mid-medieval speakers of Latin.  I presume that Pilate should be talking
the King's Latin, unless he's speaking a dialect, appropriate for some
chump out in the boondocks.  I've already given this subject way too much
serious contemplation; it was after all a movie.  And one I haven't seen.
But if Mel's language coaches were incompetent, then that's a more
interesting matter.

Sarah

On Tue, 9 Mar 2004, Jonathan Cullum wrote:

> I'm hoping someone else who has studied Latin can help me out here. I
> had 2 years of it in high school, many years ago, and I think I remember
> learning that the "v" in Latin words is pronounced as a "w" sound. We
> were taught that "Veni, vidi, vici" was spoken as "[wayne'-ee], [weedy],
> [weechy]".
> But the actor who plays Pilate in The Passion of the Christ pronounces
> the word "veritas" with the same "v" sound we use today.
> Is this a mispronunciation, or did my schooling fail me? Anyone
> familiar with Latin, please weigh in. I would appreciate it.
>
> ---
> Jonathan A. Cullum
> Auburn University
> 303 Samford Hall
> Auburn University, AL 36849-5110
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>
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Sarah L. Higley                            [log in to unmask]
                                           [log in to unmask]
Associate Professor of English                office:  (585) 275-9261
The University of Rochester                   fax:     (585) 442-5769
Rochester NY, 14627
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Py dydwc glein / O erddygnawt vein?
"What brings a gem from a hard stone?"               Book of Taliesin
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