What type of Latin pronunciation is used?
There are two popular ways of pronouncing Latin: (1) the restored classical pronunciation, and (2) the ecclesiastical, or Italian, pronunciation. On Legentibus, most books are read in the restored classical pronunciation. However, we are adding more books read in the ecclesiastical pronunciation as well.
The restored classical pronunciation is the pronunciation scholars have reconstructed for the height of the classical period, during the life of Cicero and Caesar. One of its characteristic features is the pronunciation of the letter C, which is pronounced “hard” (like in “ car”) before all vowels. Most importantly it distinguishes between long and short vowels in both stressed and unstressed syllables.
The ecclesiastical, or Italian, pronunciation is the traditional pronunciation used in Italy and the Catholic Church. In contrast with the classical pronunciation, the letter C, when placed before front vowels (e, i, æ, œ), is pronounced like “ch” in the English word “ child”. Usually, there is no attempt at distinguishing between long and short vowels.
Learn to understand both well.
The benefit of learning the restored classical pronunciation
The length, or quantity, as it is usually called, of a vowel is not only a matter of pronunciation but in many instances, especially at the ends of words, is an indicator of a word’s function in a sentence. For instance, in the sentence mēnsa pecūniā emitur (“the table is bought with money”) the long ā in pecūniā shows that it is the instrument with which the table is bought, and not the other way around :).
Note, however, that in most editions of texts, the vowel quantity is not shown. On Legentibus, all texts have macrons on all long vowels.