Pronunciation of Latin Consonants

The Romans used almost the same exact alphabet that we continue to use today, with the notable exception of the letters j and w. Apart from these, the Romans had all the letters as us, though many were not pronounced in the same way as they are in modern English. Look at the list below for some of the most important differences in pronunciation:

  • C: The letter c, as in Latin words like licet and Caesar is always hard in Latin, as in “can” and “carrot,” and never soft. The same rule applies for the combination ch in other Latin words, such charta and chaos.
  • G: The letter g, as in Latin words like agis and genū, is likewise always hard, and never soft as in the English word “giraffe.”
  • I: The letter i, although typically a vowel, can also sometimes work like a consonant. It is pronounced like English y both when it comes at the beginning of words and is followed by a vowel (e.g. iānua) and when it is positioned between two vowels within a word (e.g. māior).
  • S: The letter s is always soft in Latin, and never makes a hard z sound like in the English word “nose.”
  • T: The letter t is always hard in Latin, as in the English word “tin,” and does not make the softer sh sound like in the English word “lotion.” The combination th is likewise always hard, as in the Latin word thēatrum.
  • V: The letter v in Latin makes the sound of the English letter w.

In some older Latin inscriptions and texts, the letters u and v were identical, and both written as v. Nonetheless, they were pronounced differently: although the word senātus could also be written as senātvs, the u would not be pronounced as the vowel, and not like the consonant v.