Posted: 27 Dec 2006 @ 00:00
December 28th, 1906.
AT THE Headmasters’ Conference, the two principal subjects for discussion were the teaching of Greek and the reform of Latin pronunciation. As regards the former, they decided that a boy should not begin to learn Greek until the age of 13 or 14. . . The headmasters also decided in favour of what the Classical Association imagines to have been the pronunciation of Latin in the Augustan period. It seems to us, even if the conclusions of the Classical Association could in all points be verified, that the matter is rather of academical than of practical interest. If there were the prospect of its again becoming a spoken language, it might be of importance to Englishmen to abandon their insular pronunciation of Latin. What is of greater importance is the recognition of quantities, and it is one merit of the reformed pronunciation that attention is paid to these. But this could be done without going the length of the Classical Association’s recommendations. Anything, however, would be better than the plan, familiar to us in our youth, of authorising the careful mispronunciation of words, and caning for the false quantities which, as a natural consequence, appeared in our verses. At one famous school, mispronunciation is systematised in a scheme which is put out by authority, and which, doubtless, is responsible for many “howlers” in prosody.