Thinking about it, most of the Romance languages I have heard nasalize vowels quite frequently and it seems consistent: that has me wondering, is there any evidence to show that Latin was a heavily-nasalized language?

  • 1
    It's plausible that nasalized vowel phones existed in Latin at some point or another. Vowels in proximity to nasal consonants are often allophonically nasalized in various languages: e.g. in English the vowel in "hand" is typically somewhat nasalized. But assimilative allophonic variants like this are often not noted in descriptions of a language, so as far as I know we don't have good evidence about it. See Alex B.'s answer to the following question on Latin SE: Did an internal m nasalize the preceding vowel? – brass tacks Sep 7 '17 at 22:06
  • As far as I know, no extant ancient description of Latin pronunciation clearly describes a three-way contrast in a synchronic phonology of Latin between nasal vowels, sequences of a vowel + nasal stop, and non-nasalized long vowels. We have evidence for the elision of word-final "-um, -am, -em" and for the loss of "n" before /f/ or /s/ (with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel), but these sound changes don't necessarily require a stable intermediate stage with nasalized vowel phonemes. – brass tacks Sep 7 '17 at 22:09
  • 2
    Possibly helpful: "Nasal Vowel Evolution in Romance", muse.jhu.edu/article/19215 – Mark Beadles Sep 8 '17 at 1:23
  • 2
    I'm curious about the Latin -iō suffix, which is inflected -iōnis, -iōnes, -iōnum, etc., and is reflected as -ión/-iones in Spanish, -ão/-ões in Portuguese, -ion/-ions in French, -ione/-ioni in Italian, -ie/ii or -iune/-iuni in Romanian, etc. – Locoluis Sep 8 '17 at 20:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.