I have adopted a not-very-radical practice of pronouncing Classical Latin vowels in a simplified manner. A brief explanation follows the forms, but this practice basically involves one sound for each vowel. Short vowels are pronounced short, long pronounced long. Simple.
a = do, re, mi, fa ā = faaa
e = eh ē = eeeh
i = bee ī = beee
o = no ō = nooo
u = food ū = foood
y = u ȳ = uuu
(almost like in the name Yuri)
Most sources cite a different pronunciation for the long vowels (right column). Necessary? Don’t think so. In real life discourse (I have been immersed in the language and heard native Spanish, Dutch, French, Italian, and English pronunciation of Latin), the “standard” differences between short and long vowels are barely audible, and in many cases sound awkward and/or lazy (“ita” vs “eeta”).
With the number of Latin dialects spoken both in Rome and the provinces, even the purists should recognize the utility in simplifying vowel pronunciation for language acquisition. Benefits? Here are a few…
1) Focus on quantity – the real challenge in speaking Latin (and basis for understanding and enjoying poetry)
2) Fewer sounds to produce – acquisition attained sooner
3) Promotes clarity – the standard pronunciation of “i” as in “pin” is a very ENGLISH type of sound, while “i” as in “bee” opens up the mouth, and sounds more like another language