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Can we really just pronounce Latin like English?


Chris in VA
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Will the Latin police chase us down if we just do it that way?

I'd like to use Galore Park, and I don't think there's DVDs to go with the program. We did Prima (most of it), and I know a little of the Ecclesiastical pronouciation, but it sure would be easier if we didn't have to worry about that!

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:iagree:

 

My thoughts exactly. When will my child ever speak Latin? When he/she meets the Pope? Okay, so not likely to happen. Why latin then? For understanding of root words, to help decode new vocabulary, and foreign languages. So no, I don't think we need to know pronounciation. In fact I almost chucked the whole idea of teaching/learning Latin when I read the pronounciation guide (in some random book). So if you decide to go without the pronounciation cd's then you can speak "hillbilly Latin" like us!

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LOL--

Well, one reason I did want to know the eccles. pronounciation was to do the prayers in Latin, since the Church is one place where Latin is still a living language of sorts.

It would be pretty embarrassing for dd to memorize the wrong way of saying those, iykwim. But, other than that, I guess we will just use the CDs and go from there--even tho Galore Park uses the other way of pronouncing, right?

Can't win for tryin'!

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I *try* to approximate the correct classical pronunciation, thinking that some day my dd may have a Latin tutor, or take Latin classes at college. (We are Orthodox, so she would to need Greek, or possibly Russian, rather than Latin for church purposes.). Really, it's not that hard with a little practice. At first, I kept the pronunciation chart handy and referred back to it frequently. But after awhile, I didn't need to any more. You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly! IF you decide to try, that is. :). If you don't think they will pursue Latin beyond HomeSchool, then perhaps there's no reason to??

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I'm a bit neurotic about things like this, so I go out of my way to do it the "right" way. I know I'm probably only making my own life harder. We've found that the Google Translations tool online has a very nice voice and sounds (to my entirely untrained ear :D) like a good pronunciation (is that the right word? it's not, is it?) . It's sure a heckuva lot better than the Latvian voice (ugh). And if it's not accurate, I don't think I really want to know. LOL

 

http://translate.google.com

 

Anyway, thought I'd pass the tip along. It's been a lot of fun for us and has sparked new interest in Latin for us. We do try to speak it around the house. It's fun. ;)

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You can do whatever you feel like doing - no discussion about that. It's your homeschool, your Latin learning, your organization of the content and your decisions on the issues like this.

 

Whether you ought to do it is a different question and the answers here may vary significantly. There are three Latin pronunciations which are "established" today - the reconstructed classical one, the traditional ecclesiastical one, and the "Italian-style" ecclesiastical one; and actually, the latter one seems to be dominant in the Catholic circles, especially in Italy/Vatican, of course. While I usually do recommend not to sweat the pronunciation, to just pick one that suits you aesthetically or ideologically and go with it, I'm not sure I'd ever recommend to completely ignore that issue and think that anything goes. I'd still prefer to opt for one of the three, because the English pronunciation of Latin is quite problematic / corrupted. The ecclesiastical pronunciations are actually simpler than that, they're both quite straightforward and really not difficult to learn. While you may say that you'll never have to speak Latin, I still see at least some value in sticking to a clear traditional pronunciation - even more so if you're Catholic and wish to partially worship in Latin.

 

So, while nobody can "prescribe" you what to do and it's fundamentally your choice, I do advise against it.

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Anyone know of a place where I can hear clips of the three individually? The GSWL has a classical and ecclesiastical version...I'm curious about the other...

I suppose that most of the Vatican clips use that one: it's basically somewhat "italianized" ecclesiastical pronunciation. Check the latest

speech.

 

"Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam."

If you closely pay attention to how it's pronounced, magnum is pronounced with [ny], exactly like the Italian GN is pronounced; habemus is pronounced without an H, exactly like in Italian the letter H is silent. Or check

: caelis and santificetur have a [ch] sound, a few tricks like that to differ it from "non-Italian" ecclesiastical pronunciation, but they're really subtle differences.
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I suppose that most of the Vatican clips use that one: it's basically somewhat "italianized" ecclesiastical pronunciation. Check the latest
speech.

 

"Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam."

If you closely pay attention to how it's pronounced, magnum is pronounced with [ny], exactly like the Italian GN is pronounced; habemus is pronounced without an H, exactly like in Italian the letter H is silent. Or check

: caelis and santificetur have a [ch] sound, a few tricks like that to differ it from "non-Italian" ecclesiastical pronunciation, but they're really subtle differences.

Wow! Thank you!

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You can do whatever you feel like doing - no discussion about that. It's your homeschool, your Latin learning, your organization of the content and your decisions on the issues like this.

 

Whether you ought to do it is a different question and the answers here may vary significantly. There are three Latin pronunciations which are "established" today - the reconstructed classical one, the traditional ecclesiastical one, and the "Italian-style" ecclesiastical one; and actually, the latter one seems to be dominant in the Catholic circles, especially in Italy/Vatican, of course. While I usually do recommend not to sweat the pronunciation, to just pick one that suits you aesthetically or ideologically and go with it, I'm not sure I'd ever recommend to completely ignore that issue and think that anything goes. I'd still prefer to opt for one of the three, because the English pronunciation of Latin is quite problematic / corrupted. The ecclesiastical pronunciations are actually simpler than that, they're both quite straightforward and really not difficult to learn. While you may say that you'll never have to speak Latin, I still see at least some value in sticking to a clear traditional pronunciation - even more so if you're Catholic and wish to partially worship in Latin.

 

So, while nobody can "prescribe" you what to do and it's fundamentally your choice, I do advise against it.

 

Okay, okay, you convinced me LOL. No, I was mostly kidding before, maybe I should have said that? We're doing GSWL next year and from what I understand he has the pronounciations as free downloads on his site. I was planning on listening to get the "gist" of it, but not overly worried. We aren't religious, so no concerns there. I appriciate the "do it right" style of learning/teaching. I'm a closet perfectionist as well. But sometimes I just have to say this will be "good enough" or go crazy.

 

We were going to try a foreign language, but I decided at the last minute that I just didn't want to do it. Too much on top of everything else. So I choose Latin as a better way to understand English. As for speaking it with a "Brittish" accent, nope can't get the Midwestern twang out of my voice. Really loved that comment BTW.

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If there's one thing I've learned from movies about Rome, it's that Romans all had British accents, so make sure you pronounce it like the Queen's English and I think you'll be good.

 

:lol:

 

Yeah I watch way too much bbc as well.

 

Ive been know to add a Spanish accent as well from my high-school days which doesn't sound quite right mixed with my "church" Latin from my catholic elementary school days, add in a new Italian BIL and too many bbc dramas and Ill be happy if we can just read it and understand it.

 

Do what works for you;)

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LOL@ "Hillbilly Latin".

 

I want to be laid back and say we should all do it however we want; however, if we want to say we are learning for the sake of learning, shouldn't we learn the pronunciation for the sake of learning the pronunciation and for the sake of correctly learning the language? I'm thinking aloud--my opinion is far from concrete.

 

Still, if you decide not to focus on pronunciation, the chances of being discovered are probably very small!

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I would recommend learning one of the established conventions for pronunciation; it won't be hard and you never know where the Latin police might be lurking!

 

I have the vague memory of attending mass in Latin when I was really little, my mom still wore a head veil to church those days. Then I used the classical pronunciation at high school and university in Spain.

 

After college I went to the UK. I remember the first time I heard dinner prayers recited in Latin at one of the older Cambridge University colleges. I have to say they sounded awful to my ear, so British and unauthentic, lol!

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You can do whatever you feel like doing - no discussion about that. It's your homeschool, your Latin learning, your organization of the content and your decisions on the issues like this.

 

Whether you ought to do it is a different question and the answers here may vary significantly. There are three Latin pronunciations which are "established" today - the reconstructed classical one, the traditional ecclesiastical one, and the "Italian-style" ecclesiastical one; and actually, the latter one seems to be dominant in the Catholic circles, especially in Italy/Vatican, of course. While I usually do recommend not to sweat the pronunciation, to just pick one that suits you aesthetically or ideologically and go with it, I'm not sure I'd ever recommend to completely ignore that issue and think that anything goes. I'd still prefer to opt for one of the three, because the English pronunciation of Latin is quite problematic / corrupted. The ecclesiastical pronunciations are actually simpler than that, they're both quite straightforward and really not difficult to learn. While you may say that you'll never have to speak Latin, I still see at least some value in sticking to a clear traditional pronunciation - even more so if you're Catholic and wish to partially worship in Latin.

 

Ester Maria,

 

You might find this article interesting. I did at any rate. It discusses the changes in Latin pronunciation in the Church.

 

Our Latin program, Artes Latinae, offers the choice of "American Scholastic," "Restored Classical," or "Continental Ecclesiastical." I think that what you're calling "Reconstructed Classical" is what they're calling "American Scholastic." ("Reconstructed Classical" is the one with the nasalized m's and n's at the end of words; "American Scholastic" is what most people call "classical pronunciation.")

 

We use American Scholastic for studying Latin; but out little congregation prays in Texan Ecclesiastical* at Mass, and we have some home prayers in Latin, so the children use both. In my experience, there's some initial confusing of pronunciations, which is quickly sorted out; dd8 has no difficulty switching from "Church Latin" in the children's choir to "homeschool Latin."

 

 

*Don't ask.

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You can do whatever you feel like doing - no discussion about that. It's your homeschool, your Latin learning, your organization of the content and your decisions on the issues like this.

 

Whether you ought to do it is a different question and the answers here may vary significantly. There are three Latin pronunciations which are "established" today - the reconstructed classical one, the traditional ecclesiastical one, and the "Italian-style" ecclesiastical one; and actually, the latter one seems to be dominant in the Catholic circles, especially in Italy/Vatican, of course. While I usually do recommend not to sweat the pronunciation, to just pick one that suits you aesthetically or ideologically and go with it, I'm not sure I'd ever recommend to completely ignore that issue and think that anything goes. I'd still prefer to opt for one of the three, because the English pronunciation of Latin is quite problematic / corrupted. The ecclesiastical pronunciations are actually simpler than that, they're both quite straightforward and really not difficult to learn. While you may say that you'll never have to speak Latin, I still see at least some value in sticking to a clear traditional pronunciation - even more so if you're Catholic and wish to partially worship in Latin.

 

So, while nobody can "prescribe" you what to do and it's fundamentally your choice, I do advise against it.

 

Okay, sorry if this is a silly question... Say I wanted to teach my children the Italian-style pronunciation...does this depend on curriculum choice? How does one learn one pronunciation over the others? I haven't completely made up my mind but I'm considering starting Latin in elementary and then adding Italian after that. If we learn the Italian-style Latin pronunciations it should make it that much easier for the kids when they learn Italian... or so it seems.

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I want to make sure they are spelling it correctly more than saying it correctly.

 

:iagree: We use Lively Latin now though {heart} and go with the classical pronunciation. Indy is very particular about how to say things and will often correct *me* if I say it wrong. We've done the chants so many times though, I think I might have it down. :D

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Say I wanted to teach my children the Italian-style pronunciation...does this depend on curriculum choice? How does one learn one pronunciation over the others? I haven't completely made up my mind but I'm considering starting Latin in elementary and then adding Italian after that. If we learn the Italian-style Latin pronunciations it should make it that much easier for the kids when they learn Italian... or so it seems.

It doesn't depend on a curriculum choice, even though most curricula will introduce their pronunciation choice, and if you're using audio/video materials in addition to a text, they're going to use whatever pronunciation they choose, so you'll probably be "affected" as it will be easy to just blend in with what you're taught and hear.

 

However, you can just pick a pronunciation regardless of that: inform yourself on the possible options and pronounce it as you wish, even if the curriculum explicitly introduces something else. There are a lot of clips on Youtube, or even descriptions online, with how each pronunciation is to be used, so you're definitely not limited only on your curriculum. (Even if you don't find explanations clear enough, you can always PM me with doubts and questions and I'll clear it up for you. :))

 

I do recommend, however, the opposite track: Italian first, then Latin, if you want to introduce the first foreign language in elementary. Young kids are a lot more prone to immersion-style learning than analytical dissecting of a language that Latin requires, and any of the two will give you a certain foundation for the other one. The problem with this is that there aren't good Italian curricula specifically aimed at younger children, of course, so opting the opposite road from what I suggest might actually be the best choice, if you specifically wish to learn these two, unless you find something.

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Well, as Cheryl Lowe would say on the Memoria Press DVDs, "There are no ancient Romans here to correct us." :lol:

 

I take comfort in that a lot! :001_smile: They spent an entire year learning the Classical Latin pronunciation. This year we are using LC1 (ecclesiastical) I don't make too much of a fuss if they mix the two as long as they sing the songs correctly.

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Bless you, for this thread, Chris. I need to hear that nobody will know the diff if I say, "feminina" accidentally instead of "femina."

 

Except. . . now that I think about it. . . it could end up effecting spelling progress.

 

I'm going to try to stick to the pronunciation I'm hearing, but you've helped me relax considerably.

 

Alley

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It doesn't depend on a curriculum choice, even though most curricula will introduce their pronunciation choice, and if you're using audio/video materials in addition to a text, they're going to use whatever pronunciation they choose, so you'll probably be "affected" as it will be easy to just blend in with what you're taught and hear.

 

However, you can just pick a pronunciation regardless of that: inform yourself on the possible options and pronounce it as you wish, even if the curriculum explicitly introduces something else. There are a lot of clips on Youtube, or even descriptions online, with how each pronunciation is to be used, so you're definitely not limited only on your curriculum. (Even if you don't find explanations clear enough, you can always PM me with doubts and questions and I'll clear it up for you. :))

 

I do recommend, however, the opposite track: Italian first, then Latin, if you want to introduce the first foreign language in elementary. Young kids are a lot more prone to immersion-style learning than analytical dissecting of a language that Latin requires, and any of the two will give you a certain foundation for the other one. The problem with this is that there aren't good Italian curricula specifically aimed at younger children, of course, so opting the opposite road from what I suggest might actually be the best choice, if you specifically wish to learn these two, unless you find something.

 

Thank you for explaining this further. :) Doing Italian first would be wonderful...b/c it is what I am more comfortable with. I know Spanish might make more sense, but as the teacher, it would be easier to do the Italian. Do you have any recommendations as far as Italian curriculum goes? As you said, I don't think there are many out there...

 

Thanks again for the insightful post!

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Guest Nick Oulton

Hi all,

Pronouncing Latin is indeed an issue, not least because learning some of the grammar off by heart (as you must) can't be done if you don't pronounce it out loud in a consistent way. And while of course it doesn't matter how you pronounce it, so long as those around you recognise what you are saying, it does make sense to at least aim at a pronunciation that is "correct". The real issue here, then, is whether to go for church Latin - which uses soft sounds, or classical, which uses hard. The simplest example is gloria in excelsis. Church Latin would say Gloria in exchelsis (with c = ch) while classical latin would say Gloria in exkelsis (with c = k). Once you know which route you are going down, stick to it! Don't mix and match.

Nick - author of So you really want to learn Latin (galore park)

Ps and yes we do have a cd of a Latin book (latin prep book 1) and I'm sure there is a sample file you can listen to.

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Once you know which route you are going down, stick to it! Don't mix and match.

 

I disagree. This is only one mom's experience, but so far I've had two children studying Latin, and they haven't had any trouble "mixing and matching." Singing the Gloria at Mass, praying the Pater noster and the Domine non sum dignus, or pausing to say Benedic, Domine, nos... before meals with Continental Ecclesiastical pronunciation does not interfere with their study of Latin with the classical pronunciation, nor vice versa (or "wickeh wersa" :) ).

 

I encourage my fellow homeschoolers who want to know the ecclesiastical pronunciation, because they worship in Latin or sing Bach chorales or whatever reason, to feel free to also study Latin using the classical pronunciation. There may be a few crossover moments, but those are very quickly sorted out. It's not all that hard to switch. If you can drive both a standard shift and an automatic transmission, you can pronounce Latin the "right" way for the context: and so can your kids.

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Church Latin would say Gloria in exchelsis (with c = ch) while classical latin would say Gloria in exkelsis (with c = k). Once you know which route you are going down, stick to it! Don't mix and match.

 

There is a difference between a sort of "default", common, ecclesiastical pronunciation and Italian ecclesiastial pronunciation - the example you are bringing up is actually the latter, rather than the former.

 

I also disagree with mixing and matching suggestion - on the contrary, I grew up mixing and matching them, as the general principle was "classical is used for texts before the fall of Rome, ecclesiastical for everything which is distinctly Christian and neo-Latin, Italian pronunciation can be applied to any text regardless of the content and epoch".

Later I also mixed and match the reconstructed Greek pronunciation from school with the pronunciation in the style of modern Greek, and I even acquired additional Hebrew pronunciation with time.

 

I teach all versions, with some considerations as to which text under what circumstances is the "best" pronounced in a certain way, and there is perfectly no confusion whatsoever - after all, we're talking about a few subtleties rather than a completely different reading of the same text. It's as legitimate choice that works just as well as using a single pronunciation per language.

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  • 1 month later...

You know, I do think it's worth learning "proper" Latin pronunciation. As one person noted, it makes it easy to sing, which will probably be fairly useful, and it also makes it easy to figure out how to pronounce things properly in all the romance languages with ease and to learn them more easily as well.

 

The next question is whether to use classical pronunciation or ecclesial. Let me tell you, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" starts to sound pretty ridiculous if v is pronounced like a w and c is pronounced like a k. When you take it as a complete system, it makes a lot of things sound quite absurd. I don't know this for sure, but I have to think it was a created system based just to be different from ecclesial Latin pronunciation.

 

On the other hand, ecclesial Latin is really the same pronunciation as modern Italian (giving it yet another use). It's also more elegant and more universally useful.

 

Here's a quick rundown that I'm just making up as I go along for how to pronounce it. I'm just going to include the letters that are pronounced differently than they are in English:

 

a - all

c - when followed by e or i, it says ch as in church. When followed by a, o, or u, it says c as in cake

e - eggplant

g - follows same rules as c--says j when followed by e or i and g as in garage when followed by a, o, or u

i - radio

o - orange

u - tube

ae - eggplant

 

What am I missing here? Hope this helps someone.

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Let me tell you, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" starts to sound pretty ridiculous if v is pronounced like a w and c is pronounced like a k.

 

OH, LOL!! This was always my father's favorite saying, you know, a super masculine thing (pronounced as we would with English phonetics.) So when I told him how it's pronounced in classical Latin, it caused an uproar :D:D:D

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Hi all,

Once you know which route you are going down, stick to it! Don't mix and match.

 

I disagree too. My kids easily switch between classical and ecclesiastical pronunciation. Thay know that we use the former for reading Roman literature and then latter for praying. Using both has never been a problem.

 

P.S. Nick, we're big fans of your Latin books! :D

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People do sort of have to find their own level of interest, but let me make a case for what I think of as the optimal choice -- restored classical pronunciation with certain accommodations.

 

First of all, classical pronunciation contains the most data. Later developments in Latin drop distinctions more than they gain new ones. If you learn classical pronunciation, it's not that hard to swap out patterns to conform to a later development. But to go the other way, to learn ecclesiastical pronunciation or especially to pronounce it as though it were English, trying to switch out to the classical pronunciation would be tantamount to learning it all over again.

 

Readers made for ecclesiastical pronunciation often mark accented syllables, which helps because having leaned that, you can get an intuitive sense of the rhythm of Tunberg's translations of Dr. Seuss. The way you get this rhythm in your head, by reciting aloud, is the way you're going to want to do it anyway. But from the ecclesiastical accents, you can't reliably reconstruct the actual vowels to be enunciated. But if you learn the vowels, you can actually figure out where the accent goes.

 

The restored classical pronunciation contains the pattern on which the ecclesiastical pronunciation is based, but not the other way around.

 

If you learn the pattern now, you can substitute distinctions later. That's why it's not vital that you pronounce Latin just exactly as the Romans did. There are tricky bits to really getting it right -- distinctions that you're not accustomed to making including some phonemes that don't exist in English. But if you learn the pattern, the finer distinctions will slot right into place when you're ready to make them. The exact enunciation is less crucial than making sure that you are clearly distinguishing things that are distinct.

 

So, I recommend whenever this comes up to use classical pronunciation with the following accommodations in mind:

 

First of all, unlike English, things are pretty much spelled as they are sounded. This is a tremendous advantage in learning both spelling and sound. The one reinforces the other. It will pay off to make all the distinctions in pronunciation that are made in spelling. For the vowels, that is mostly, mostly, not an issue. But...

 

The 'y' or upsilon is foreign to English in both long and short form, though the Official Wheelock's Site has some nice audio clips to help with that. If you substitute just an i or u sound, then you not only forgo the aid in spelling, you give up the educational value of working on learning new phonemes, which would come in handy if you went on to French, German or classical Greek.

 

LaFleur, the current editor of Wheelock's, recommends always writing your macrons, and I concur. Treat it as just a part of spelling. Even the Romans who heard Latin every day toyed with attempts to make the long-short distinction clear in writing. If you're coming at it as a foreign language, you certainly need the aid more than they did. Even though we all know the difference between 'rat' and 'rate' intuitively, and can readily distinguish them in context of you accidentially drop the 'e' from 'rate', we still insist that the 'e' should be there, even though all it does is exactly what drawing a macron over a Latin vowel does -- it tells you that the vowel is long.

 

Secondly, for the most part, the consonants take care of themselves, and from different sources you get incompatible advice. I recommend sorting that the fine distinctions later. But distinctions in spelling should get distinctions in pronunciation -- 'ph' shouldn't be quite the same as 'p' or 'f', for example. Here's my advice on the digraphs ph, th, ch and rh -- pronounce them as though you were saying 'h' at the same. That makes for distinct sounds that more or less approximate what 'aspirated' amounts to, and if you later decide it's not quite right enough for you, you will have already learned the pattern and can simply slot your favored pronunciation into it.

 

And before I go on any longer, some things which are definitely true about classical pronunciation I recommend knowing, but not actually applying. Don't worry about pronouncing 'b' as 'p' before 's' and 't' -- this doesn't make a distinction that will change the meaning of anything, and it's a phenomenon of co-articulation that you may find happens naturally anyway. Also, I don't recommend dropping the 'm' at the end of words, and I certainly don't recommend assimilating it to a following consonant. You will eventually want to get a feel for this as you get into ancient poetry, but you're not actually going to have to relearn your -m words to play with this later on. I myself do like to nasalize the vowel before a final -m, to remind me of the rule, but otherwise this is one genuinely classical distinction that actually makes for less compatibility with other pronunciation systems, not more.

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