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I am trying to find more information about the formation and pronunciation of the Greek noun Ἁμαδρυάς, taken into Latin as Hamadryas. L&S transcribes the second a of the Latin form with a macron: Hămādryas , ădis. However, I'm suspicious about whether this means the vowel is long*, or whether it just marks a long syllable before the cluster dr, which in poetry could freely be syllabified as d.r after a short vowel if necessary for the meter.

In the Attic dialect of Greek, long alpha is somewhat rare because of a historical change of to ɛː when not preceded by e, i or r. The α in the second syllable of Ἁμαδρυάς is not preceded by one of those sounds, so I'm not sure how it could be long. It would help to know more about the word's etymology, but I found little on this topic when I searched online. The English Wiktionary article for hamadryad, as well as the OED entry, explain the formation of the Greek word as from ἅμα 'together' and δρῦς 'tree'. Unfortunately, the length of the final alpha in ἅμα seems to be complicated: there is a Doric form ἁμᾶ that has a long vowel, as shown by the circumflex on the ultimate syllable, but as far as I can tell the Attic form had a short vowel, or at least could sometimes. This etymology, if correct, doesn't make me feel much more confident about the length of the second vowel in Ἁμαδρυάς.

Can anyone tell me about more information that is relevant to the etymology and/or pronunciation of this word? Is there anything that clearly points to a pronunciation with a long vowel as opposed to one with a heterosyllabic cluster d.r?


*Lewis and Short does not use the macron exclusively for long vowels: it is used to mark a short vowel in the nucleus of a heavy syllable in various cases where the spelling doesn't clearly show that the syllable is closed, e.g. in mājor (= [majjor], not [maːjor]) or cē̆dris (= [ke.dris]~[ked.ris], not [keː.dris], from Greek κεδρίς).

  • FWIW, neither Beekes nor Chantraine have an entry for the Greek word. – TKR Sep 18 '19 at 23:56
  • @TKR: Thanks for checking. I just saw that Theoi lists two uses of the word in Classical Greek, but one is from a prose source (Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses) and the other is I think also prose, although I haven't found that out for certain yet (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae). I'm not sure how many more attestations of the word in Greek I should expect there to be ... maybe it's just too uncommon to analyze. – Asteroides Sep 19 '19 at 0:23
  • The Athenaeus quote is prose: perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… – TKR Sep 19 '19 at 18:00
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    TLG is giving me a total of ten hits all of which are in prose works, but I can only access the abridged TLG at the moment. But I'm not sure how useful verse evidence would be anyway: if the second syllable scanned long, that could be attributed to the consonant cluster rather than the vowel length. And it seems unlikely that we'd find it scanned short as that would give a sequence of three or more shorts, which wouldn't fit into most common meters. – TKR Sep 19 '19 at 22:08
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    @sumelic Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2 - the reference comes from Wiktionary. The αδ seems to be long in 95,98 (but the scansion of line 95 isn't clear to me). There is also a Ἁδρυάς in 92 (also long αδ). There might be more attestations of Ἁδρυάς since the English footnote says it's the word favored by Nonnus – b a Sep 20 '19 at 8:54

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