Quintilien sur l’orthographe

Institutions Oratoires, 1, 4, 7-9 (cité par Roy Harris dans Rethinking Writing (2000)):

Il appartient à tous les grammairiens[1] de s’occuper de ces choses fines et d’examiner s’il ne nous manque pas certaines lettres nécessaires, non pour écrire des mots grecs (puisque nous avons emprunté deux lettres pour cela), mais pour les mots latins eux-mêmes: ainsi dans serus et uulgus le digamma éolien fait défaut[2], et il y a un son intermédiaire entre les lettres u et i (en effet nous ne disons pas optimum[3] comme opimum), et dans hereon n’entend clairement ni i, ni e; et par ailleurs d’autres lettres sont redondantes[4] (…)

(…) Aut grammatici saltem omnes in hanc descendent rerum tenuitatem, desintne aliquae nobis necessariae litterae, non cum Graeca scribimus (tum enim ab isdem duas mutuamur), sed proprie in Latinis: ut in his seruus et uulgus Aeolicum digammon desideratur, et medius est quidam u et i litterae sonus (non enim sic optimum dicimus ut opimum), et in here neque e plane neque i auditur; an rursus aliae redundent (…)[5]


  1. Grammatici, ie les professeurs de lettres
  2. pour distinguer la semi-consonne de la voyelle u, ce que fait la typographie moderne du latin, en notant la semi-consonne par v.
  3. écrit parfois optumum
  4. comme le q ou le x
  5. in The Latin Library trad. anglaise sur Lacus Curtius et Iowa State

Quintilien: Institutions Oratoires, 1, 1, 32 sq (trad. H. E. Butler)

You will hardly believe how much reading is delayed by undue haste. If the child attempts more than his powers allow, the inevitable result is hesitation, interruption and repetition, and the mistakes which he makes merely lead him to lose confidence in what he already knows. section 33Reading must therefore first be sure, then connected, while it must be kept slow for a considerable time, until practice brings speed unaccompanied by error. section 34For to look to the right, which is regularly taught, and to look ahead depends not so much on precept as on practice; since it is necessary to keep the eyes on what follows while reading out what precedes, with the resulting difficulty that the attention of the mind must be divided, the eyes and voice being differently engaged. It will be found worth while, when the boy begins to write out words in accordance with the usual practice, to see that he does not waste his labour in writing out common words of everyday occurrence. section 35He can readily learn the explanations or glosses, as the Greeks call them, of the more obscure words by the way and, while he is still engaged on first rudiments, acquire what would otherwise demand special time to be devoted to it. And as we are still discussing minor details, I would urge that the lines, which he is set to copy, should not express thoughts of no significance, but convey some sound moral lesson.