Humanities › History & Culture Stress in Latin Syllables Diphthongs and Triphthongs and More Share Flipboard Email Print brown54486 / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Ancient Languages Figures & Events Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated November 25, 2019 Knowing the way Latin words are divided into syllables will help you to pronounce and translate poetry. There are a few basic points you need to know, but remember that there are always exceptions. Virgil's "Aeneid" is the perfect place to start with Latin examples. Here is the first line of the epic poem when each word is separated internally by syllable with a hyphen: ár-ma vi-rúm-que cá-no Tró-jae qui prí-mus ab ó-ris Syllable Guideline The number of syllables equals the number of vowels and/or diphthongs pronounced separately. For example, Caesar contains one vowel and one diphthong, so there are two syllables: Cae-sar. There are no silent vowels in Latin. Exercise Q. How many syllables are there in the English word "alphabet"?A. There are three in "alphabet." and they center around the vowels in the word.Q. How many syllables are there in the English word "same"?A. There are two vowels in "same," but one is silent, so there is only one syllable.Q. How many syllables are there in the Latin example from Virgil above?A. 15 Vowels Check for vowels. The first word árma has two vowels and two syllables. The second word virúmque has three vowels and three syllables. There is no fourth vowel, because the U after Q acts as it does in English, and doesn't count. The third word cáno has two vowels and two syllables. The fourth word Trójae has three vowels, but only two are pronounced separately, since the AE, a diphthong, is pronounced together. You can analyze the last three words (qui prí/mus ab ó/ris) on your own. Diphthongs and Consonants As in English, Latin syllables divide between consonants (in mitto, the syllables are divided between the Ts: mit-to). Without consonants in a row, the division happens after a vowel or diphthong and before the next consonant. There are six Latin diphthongs: AE (earlier, AI): Tro-jae ("Troy")AU: Au-rum ("gold")EI: dein-de ("then")EU: Eu-ro-pa ("Europe")OE: proe-li-um ("battle")UI (rare): cui ("who") Stress Syllables and stresses are related, and both are necessary for a reasonable pronunciation of Latin. Generally, stress would normally be placed on the second to last (penultimate) syllable if it is long, and on the one before it (the antepenultimate) if not. If you look up amicus in a Latin dictionary, there will be a long mark or macron on the I. That means the I is long, so the syllable is stressed. If there is a diphthong in the penultimate syllable or if it is followed by two consonants, it is generally counted as long and therefore stressed. In the opening example, the ictus is marked with an accent mark, which shows the stress. ár-ma vi-rúm-que cá-no Tró-jae qui prí-mus ab ó-ris Resources and Further Reading “Diphthongs.” The Official Wheelock's Latin Series Website, Harper Collins, 7 Jan. 2010.