Latin Pronunciation Guide

The following is my own interpretation and clarification of modern Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation. Most of the rules of pronunciation here are familiar to those who encounter the Latin language with any regularity, but several of the finer points of pronunciation will likely be new to many of these people as well.

My source for most of this information is “The Correct Pronunciation of Latin According to Roman Usage” by Rev. Michael de Angelis. (2nd ed.: 1937 St. Gregory Guild, Inc.) De Angelis's text is still in print (though by other publishers) and is useful for its examples, which I have omitted here for brevity. I have used IPA symbols to clarify de Angelis's indications and have added a few rules that de Angelis omitted in his text but used in his examples; these are indicated in footnotes.

Unfortunately, de Angelis did not discuss syllabic stress significantly in his text. I do not have information on proper accentuation of Ecclesiastical Latin; if I come across a freely usable source that provides an authoritative, comprehensive guide to accentuation and that is simple enough to be appropriate for a web page, I'll consider adding it to this guide. This is primarily a loss for those wishing to apply this guide to non-musical uses; musical phrasing usually agrees with correct pronunciation.


General Ecclesiastical Latin Pronunciation Rules

Letter Rule IPA

1 It is sometimes necessary to pronounce I and U as j-glides and w-glides (respectively) for musical reasons when they otherwise would be pronounced as separate vowels.

2 This rule is illustrated in de Angelis's examples for X but not spelled out.

3 This rule is indicated, but not spelled out, in de Angelis's examples.