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Re: Ouranosaurus (but we saw a spinosaur?)

My understanding is that, yes, u was written as a v (no surprise there). The
comment about a Latin v being pronounced as a w was sloppy, for which I
apologize. The Romans wrote a "u," someone later decided some of them
letters should be "v." Another listmember (in a private message) is also
correct that the pronunciations have changed through time; the method taught
in the U.S., intended to reconstruct pronunciation at about the time of
Caesar, emphasizes that the "v" of modern spelling (written the same as the
"u" by the Romans) is pronounced as a "w."

Indeed, the "w" pronunciation believed to be prevalent in Caesar's time may
not be a special pronunciation convention... it appears to be a diphthong
formed with a leading "u." The presumed pronunciation of around 1 AD has the
u pronounced as a slightly longer "uh" sound midway between "uh" and "oo."
Stick this sound in front of another vowel sound, and it sounds like a "w."
Try it: veni, vidi, vici becomes ueni, uidi, uici, or "waynee, weedee,
weekee" applying full-bore "proper" pronunciation, parvus becomes paruus
becomes paroo-uhs or parwus.

Historically, some Latin "v"s have stayed "v" while others changed to "u,"
in a manner analogous to the historical propensity to change some Latin "i"s
to "j" and some Latin "c"s to "g"s (although I was under the impression this
last change occurred while Latin was still a major world language). No doubt
this has something to do with the place the letter appears in the sentence
and its nearest neighbors; the letter anglicized as "v" from Latin is
usually at the beginning of a word, and/or precedes a second vowel (the
Roman word "vvlcaris" becomes "vulgaris," for example). I don't know if this
happened initially in concert with some pronunciation difference, or for
some other reason. Perhaps Ben Creisler will speak up...


Jonathan R. Wagner
9617 Great Hills Trail #1414
Austin, TX 78759