Pronunciation of 'Lawyers' Latin'
Some Latin words and phrases are not usually pronounced by English speakers as they would have been by Romans of the Classical Period (see Pronunciation of Classical Latin). These words and phrases are almost always part of the specialist vocabulary of the law or of some other discipline such as philosophy, and the reason for their not being pronounced in accordance with the rules for the pronunciation of Classical Latin is that they became part of the relevant professional or technical vocabulary many centuries ago, i.e., long before English-speakers learning Latin were taught to speak the language in a way that reflected the pronunciation of Latin by Romans of the Classical Period.
The way these words and phrases are pronounced takes some account of the fact that they are Latin words and phrases, but in many respects treats them as if they were English words and phrases. Incidentally, there is no generally agreed expression for Latin which is to be pronounced in this way. The label 'Lawyers' Latin' seems appropriate since most of the expressions in this category are part of the specialist vocabulary of lawyers.
There are no exceptionless rules which will ensure that you pronounce 'Lawyer's Latin' in the conventionally correct way all the time, any more than there are exceptionless rules for the pronunciation of English; and in fact there are differences even amongst educated English speakers in the way they pronounce 'Lawyers' Latin'.
The following rules will help you to get the pronunciation right most of the time.
- A final '-e' or '-es' counts as a syllable. So the word 'judice' has three syllables, and the word 'vires' has two syllables.
- Consonants are generally pronounced in the same way as they would be in English. So 'c' before 'e' or 'i' is pronounced as an 's'; 'g' before 'e' or 'i' is soft (like the 'g' in 'gesture' or 'germinate': IPA: /dʒ/); 'j' has the sound of 'j' in 'jam': IPA: /dʒ/; and 'v' is pronounced like the 'v' in 'velocity' (not like 'w' as in Classical Latin).
- Many of the vowels, especially when long, are pronounced in an English way. For example, a long 'a' is often pronounced like the 'ay' in 'say': IPA: /eɪ/; a long 'e' is often pronounced like the 'ee' in 'keep': IPA: /iː/; a long 'i' is often pronounced like the English word 'eye': IPA: /aɪ/; and a long 'u' is often pronounced like the English word 'you': IPA: /juː/.
- Accent: If a word has two syllables, the accent is almost always on the first. If a word has more than two syllables, the accent is on the second syllable from the end if the syllable is long; and if the syllable is short, the accent is on the third syllable from the end.
For some examples of Latin words and phrases which are a part of 'Lawyer's Latin' see the Category:Latin words and phrases.