Help with Latin

What is the correct spelling of the second Latin word in the Eastertide Marian antiphon Queen of Heaven, rejoice? Is it caeli or coeli? I have seen both spellings. And, to be technically correct (which ever of these two are correct) should it be cæli or cœli?

Dear Matthew,

My old Latin prof spelled it “Coeli.”

Alex

The Vatican website has both coeli and caeli. My chant book has cæli. I have to guess that either spelling is acceptable, and that the ligature versions are probably more strictly correct, but that you wouldn’t use them online because it would be too hard for people to search.

Just a guess, though, and I bow to anyone with official knowledge.

–Jen

This is what I dreaded. All four possibilities are allowed. I don’t know Latin so don’t know its rules and whether some words can be spelt in more than one way.

All of these are correct in Church Latin.
In Classical (i.e. Roman) Latin, only ae/æ was used.

I prefer ‘æ’, as it emphasizes the monosyllabic pronunciation of this diphthong.
However, I hardly ever see ‘æ’ or ‘œ’ used (in lower-case, at least), outside of grammar books.

In Mediæval texts, a/o is left out altogether, and you get words like celi and eternum. Hope I’m not confusing you:o

So the short answer is: ‘ae’ is safe every time, ‘oe’ is good Mediæval Latin, and ‘æ’ and ‘œ’ are acceptable as a personal preference, especially since they indicate the particular pronunciation of that diphthong.

Yes, a little bit. First, you say:

In Classical (i.e. Roman) Latin, only ae/æ was used.

So am not sure whether ae or æ was used in classical Latin.

Then you said:

In Mediæval texts, a/o is left out altogether …

Then you say:

… ‘oe’ is good Mediæval Latin …

So, that does confuse me a little.

Well, spellings do change over time, and in pre-dictionary days, were less uniform. I think that may what is confusing.

–Jen

Those are the same thing; they are not different at all. They’re just two ways of writing the same thing, like cooperate and coöperate, Paradise and Paradiſe, or etc. and &c. I believe the ligature was uncommon during the classical period if it existed at all. Here’s a Roman coin; you can see “CAESAR,” without ligature, on the right-hand side:

As to “caeli” versus “coeli,” the latter is uncommon but not altogether absent in Classical Latin.

Thank you to the last two posters but I think it would be fairer for zdon011 to explain what was meant rather than others second guess what might have been meant.

In post #5 zdon011 says classical Latin used only …

Only means one but then gives two examples ae and æ.

zdon011 says the a and o were usually missed out in mediaeval Latin then later says œ is good mediaeval Latin. I find that contradictory.

We often come on here, are limited for time, and make unintentional mistakes. So I think it would be fair for zdon011 to clarify what was meant.

There is nothing contradictory in zdon’s post. I’m not sure you’re reading it correctly. Yes, “only means one,” but ae and æ are one and the same thing. It’s just a different way of writing or typesetting the same two letters. (Granted, I think it is not, strictly, factually correct that “only ae/æ was used” in Classical Latin, as I believe there are some instances of oe. But ae/æ was certainly by far the predominant spelling.)

To be honest, I think you’re looking for problems and contradictions where none exist. I can’t quite imagine the attitude, “This is what I dreaded. All four possibilities are allowed.” What’s that all about? It’s like the three “possibilities” medieval, mediaeval, and mediæval. They’re all just fine.

That is your opinion. zdon011 asked me if I was confused. In several places I was. It’s up to zdon011 to respond, or not as he/she chooses.

No, that is not the case. I don’t know how you can answer for zdon011.

I do not have an attitude. Again, you’re trying to second guess what someone means. When I posted the question I was just hoping that the answer might be a definitive it is this … Instead in turns out that all four possibilities are correct.

Mr Holford,

I’m sorry I did not make myself clear. I hope, for your sake, that the attitude you expressed towards my response is uncharacteristic of your usual treatment of strangers who try to be of ‘assistance’.

‘Ae’ and ‘æ’ are merely different ways of writing the same sound.
In the same way, ‘oe’ and ‘œ’ are different ways of writing what (in Church Latin) is usually the same sound as ae/æ.

‘E’ STOOD FOR ‘OE’ IN MEDIÆVAL WRITING.

A/o were usually missed out in WRITING the sound æ/œ. Obviously it was still PRONOUNCED AND SPOKEN THE SAME WAY WHETHER OR NOT THE A/O WERE WRITTEN. THIS SCRIBAL CONVENTION OF DROPPING THE A/O ONLY OCCURS IN MEDIÆVAL MANUSCRIPTS, I.E. NOT ANY MORE.

The a/o were IMPLIED, in much the same way letters might be missed out when writing some English words, like ‘didn’t’. There are texts that have ‘coelum’ with the O, and this is obviously what Mediæval scribes were thinking of when they wrote ‘celum’.

If in doubt, STICK WITH AE/OE. NO ONE WRITES ‘CELI’ ANY MORE, SO FORGET EVERYTHING I SAID ABOUT IT. JUST STUPID ZDON GOING ON A NERD-RAMBLE, ASSUMING OTHERS MIGHT BE INTERESTED.

I have not got an attitude. Plus, I do not find it necessary to shout at people. I was and am interested.

You said:

Hope I’m not confusing you:o

Several parts of your response did confuse me. I have never studied Latin. All I asked for was clarification of two points. While things may appear clear to someone with knowledge of something it may not be clear to a person without that knowledge. You obviously knew what you meant. I wasn’t sure.

I hope for the sake of others that you are not a teacher.

I suggest that you post questions like this in the Traditional Section rather than the Liturgy and Sacraments section of CAF. You will probably find the responses more in keeping with your expectations.

I never thought of posting it on the Traditional Section. I posted on the Liturgy and Sacraments section because my OP was about a prayer.

As I keep saying I don’t know Latin. I wish I did, it would have been a benefit to me in several ways. Because I don’t know Latin I wasn’t sure which one of caeli or coeli was the correct spelling of the Latin word for heaven. I’ve seen both and always assumed, due to my lack of knowledge, that one must be correct and one must be wrong. From replies I’ve received it would appear that both are accepted spellings of the Latin for heaven.

To be honest, which ever section I should have started this thread in, I’m sorry I bothered now as its caused more problems that its solved.

Hello,

Not wanting to start a new thread I will pose a question here as it is a request for “help with Latin”.

I studied classical Latin back in the day. I remember that “ae” was pronounced like “I”, “ay”, as in Caesar sounding like the German “Kaiser”. Now in listening carefully to liturgical Latin I hear “ae” pronounced very differently.

“Caelis” is pronounce like “chayliss” whereas I learned it should sound like “kailiss”.

Is my memory of Roman Latin wrong, or did the Church change the pronunciations, I assume to be easier to say in the liturgy. The “classic” pronunciation is not as "pleasing to the ear.

Thanks to those that know these things.

Regards,
Bill Unland

One of the few things that I know about Latin is that there is classical Latin and ecclesiastical Latin. If you were taught Latin at school you were most likely to have been taught classical Latin. A difference between classical and ecclesiastical is in pronunciation so if you went to Mass in Latin the priest’s pronunciation would be different from what you were taught at school. I’m afraid I don’t know if there are any other differences, e.g. grammar, vocabulary, etc.

Latin pronunciation is a complicated topic with no answers that can really be declared “right.” That said, there are in general two schools: “Classical” pronunciation, which is a system reconstructed according to linguistic principles, and “Ecclesiastical” pronunciation, which is basically the pronunciation of Italian as applied to Latin words. In classical pronunciation, the letter c is always hard, like a k. In Ecclesiastical pronunciation, it is soft before e and i, having the sound ch in ce and ci (and likewise cae and coe).

In addition to these two systems, there is a degraded, out-of-use system which basically pronounces Latin words as though they were English. So Cicero’s name is pronounced Keekero (Classical), Cheechero (Ecclesiastical), or the familiar Sissero in the Anglicized pronunciation that was abandoned circa 1900.

At any rate, to my knowledge there has been no change in the pronunciation of Ecclesiastical Latin within living memory. There are, of course, regional variations, and Latin spoken by a German should be expected to sound different from Latin spoken by an Italian, American, or Nigerian – but that’s not because the pronunciation is “officially” different; it’s just because Italian should be expected to sound different when pronounced by a German, Italian, American, or Nigerian.

So your memory is not wrong, it’s just that you learned the (reconstructed) classical pronunciation, which the Church has never used.

Great post, thanks!

I learned classical pronunciation before ecclesiastical (except the Agnus Dei) because we never had Latin in church. Later when I was singing Latin in college choirs, the “ae” thing was the hardest to switch. I still forget sometimes, lo, these many years later.

–Jen

Thanks,

That explains it all quite nicely.

Regards,
Bill Unland

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