Appendix:Latin pronunciation

Latin vowelsEdit

The table below gives the IPA equivalents for Latin vowels. Vowel duration varies for "short" vowels according to the number of following consonants.

Classical Latin monophthongs
Letter Environment IPA
Phonemic notation Phonetic notation
a in all cases /a/ [a]
ā in all cases /aː/ [aː]
e in most cases /e/ [ɛ]
before a vowel [e] or [i]?
before r [æ]?
ē in all cases /eː/ [eː]
i in most cases /i/ [ɪ]
before a vowel [i]
ī in all cases /iː/ [iː]
o in all cases /o/ [ɔ]
ō in all cases /oː/ [oː]
u in all cases /u/ [ʊ]
ū in all cases /uː/ [uː]
y in all cases /y/ [y] or [ʏ]?
ȳ in all cases /yː/ [yː]
Classical Latin diphthongs
Letters IPA
ae /ae̯/
au /au̯/
ei /ei̯/
eu /eu̯/
oe /oe̯/
ui /ui̯/

I and JEdit

In Latin, the letter written as I in ancient times was either a vowel or a consonant, or rarely a sequence of consonant and vowel, depending on position and the word, the vowel being most common. The two forms had different pronunciation and different metrical treatment in poetry.

A modern typographical convention (originating in medieval scripts) is to write J for the consonant form and leave I for the vowel. This is applied both to ordinary words and proper nouns. A similar modern convention exists in writing the vowel V as U (see U and V for more). But while U is very commonly written, the use of J is more variable.

Generally speaking, modern Latin-English dictionaries always write J; for example, the substantial 1879 dictionary of Lewis and Short. Reprints of classical works on the other hand sometimes write J and sometimes write I, with the use of I being in a sense deliberately classical (though adherence to classical conventions rarely extends say to all-capitals and no spaces between words, as actually found in originals).


As a vowel,

  • (Classical): IPA: short /i/, long /iː/

As a consonant,

  • (Classical): /j/, but doubled /jj/ when between vowels

As a consonant–vowel sequence

  • (Classical): /jji/

U and VEdit

In Latin, the letter written as V in ancient times represented either a vowel or a consonant depending on its position and the word. These two forms had distinct pronunciations and different metrical treatment in poetry.

A modern typographical convention is to write U for the vowel and leave V as the consonant. Generally speaking dictionaries write U this way and the majority of reprints of classical texts adapt them and show U too. The use of V for the vowel in new works is usually a deliberately classical style or appearance, and that includes for example in inscriptions on new monuments and the like.


As consonant,

  • (Classical): IPA: /w/, (in Greek loanwords between vowels) /ww/

As vowel,

  • (Classical): IPA: short /u/, long /uː/


  • Consonants: b (ps, pt) k d f g (ŋ) h j k l m n p kw r s t w ks z kʰ pʰ tʰ

Pronunciation formatEdit

Some example entries for Latin pronunciation given in IPA.

  • Other: ˈ ˌ ː .

IPA resourcesEdit