Scanning Aloud

Allen and Greenough offer this tip for learning the rhythm of Latin poetry:

“‘Scanning aloud’ is sometimes useful in the early stages of the study of Latin meter. Scanning aloud ignores the natural stress of the Latin words, instead treating all long syllables as stressed, all short syllables as unstressed. In effect, this technique replaces a quantitative pattern with a stress pattern.” -§607n1

  • If they mean what I believe they mean, I don’t see where this would be effective
  • Personally, I found that learning Latin verse based on the stress of its meter, not its syllables, works well
  • Would a spondee be read with double stress in this method? What would that accomplish?

Here’s an earlier post I did on a site with some sample readings aloud.

Does anyone else have experience with / thoughts on how to read Greek and Latin aloud, and how to use this as a teaching tool?

I had the fortune of reading about 50 lines of Greek and 40 lines of Latin in front of the kids at the Center for Talented Youth this summer. They were very taken with it. This was during a camp talent show with a Harry Potter theme, so, to preface, I told them that Greek was the language of Hufflepuff (with all its aspirates), and Latin the language of Slytherin (which was at least true of Aeneid 6.1-41, the highly sibilant passage I read them).

The Essential AG: 607 n1


3 comments on “Scanning Aloud

  1. CharlieJ says:

    As for reading Greek aloud, the pronunciation is an issue. Most of my work is in Biblical Greek, which is pronounced a bit differently from both Attic and Modern. I use an authentic (as possible) reconstructed Koine. You can hear samples of that system (not read by me) here:

    As for Latin, I taught myself from some books, so I never know if I’m pronouncing anything properly.

    • rsmease says:

      I wouldn’t worry about your Latin; Latin pronunciation is pretty standardized (the ‘v’ is the only real point of common contention, as I see it). I’ll take a look at your Greek soon; I’m always eager to hear another accent.

      • CharlieJ says:

        It’s not the sounds themselves that give me trouble. It’s syllable stress and length, which people tend to get a feel for from reading out loud with others in class. Also, most of my work is in post-classical Latin (Augustine, scholastics, early renaissance humanists), so there is the additional consideration of whether I ought to keep the classical pronunciation system or adopt something medieval. But then, there really isn’t any one medieval pronunciation system, so I’ve been using classical.

        Pronunciation isn’t critical for my academic work, but I like to read out loud and hear foreign languages. When I’m unsure of the pronunciation, I feel a bit disconnected, as if I’m still at a distance from the language, as if maybe it really is a “dead” language.

        By the way, your blog has been very helpful. Since I am self-taught, every now and then I find I have an odd gap in my knowledge. Your blog makes it easy to look up a concept.

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