How to pronounce "Avahi"

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Sat Oct 25 22:45:19 MDT 2008


"Derek Davis" <derek.davis at gmail.com> writes:

> On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 4:04 PM, Brian Simons <bpsimons at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, 2008-10-24 at 13:53 -0600, Dave Smith wrote:
>>> How do you pronounce Avahi?
>>
>> Well, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avahi_(software) the
>> software is named after the Wooly Lemur. Avahi  is the name of the genus
>> to which the Lemur belongs. It's Latin and most likely follows normal
>> Latin rules for pronunciation. My pronunciation vote is for uh-VAH-hee
>
> I don't have any votes for the software, because I have no idea. But
> just a point of disagreement. In my experience (several years of high
> school latin, so hardly definitive) the v is pronounced as a w in
> Latin. So, veni, vidi, vici is pronounced way-knee, weedy,
> wiki^h^h^h^h weak-ee. Therefore, following normal (ancient) Latin
> rules for pronunciation, it would be ah-WAH-hee. Probably not how the
> software is pronounced, but how I think the ancient Romans would have
> pronounced it. :)

Except for the fact that Latin lived on for a while after the Romans
were gone, and we inherited words from it by way of the French during
the Norman rule of England, at which time Latin was the language of
nobility, education, and commerce.  Traditional English pronunciation of
Latin 'v' has always been the English 'v' sound, thus we say, e.g.,
'vee-nus' and not 'wee-nus' in our Latin-derived words.  This is the
same sound that was used by Latin-speakers towards the end of its life
as a living, spoken language.

The reason you learned the 'w'-sound in your Latin class is that in the
19th century, Latin instruction moved towards a revised Classical
pronunciation, which goes back to the Romans.  The Romans were not
terribly scientific fellows, though, and the usage of Latin in academia
follows from the later period, where 'v's were pronounced as they are
today.

So, 'v'-sound, not 'w'-sound.

                --Levi



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