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Questions tagged [vowel-quantity]

For questions about vowel length.

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Why is the "u" in "nuntius" and "nuntiare" long by exception?

First of all, a warm hello to all the users here! I was recently thinking about the pronunciation of nūntius and nūntiāre along with its derivatives (such as prōnūntiāre). According to "Latin for ...
Agrippa's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
539 views

Did the Romans confuse a long vowel with two short ones?

Consider the words sūs and sŭŭs. The former has one long u, the latter has two short ones in two syllables. For another similar pair with a different vowel, consider īmus and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
565 views

How can one predict the length of theme vowels in verbs?

The theme vowels a, e, and i in infinitives are long. But, in other forms of those verbs, they can be short. But when, exactly? What are the rules for this? And how about the suppletive vowels used ...
Cerberus's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
557 views

Etymology and pronunciation of words ending in “-iasis”

Unfortunately, I don’t own any Latin or Greek dictionaries or etymological texts, but I tried to research this topic on the internet. Here is what I found: Perseus: words ending in “iasis” in L&S ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
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What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

The rules for positioning of syllable stress in Latin are relatively simple; they are as follows: In two-syllable words, the stress always falls on the first syllable. In three or more syllable ...
Ethan Bierlein's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
730 views

Latin minimal pairs, distinguished only by the length of the vowel in an unstressed non-last syllable

I'm thinking about which diacritics to use in Latin to give pronunciation hints without writing the length of all the vowels (which I find very noisy). My main aim is to avoid homographs that are not ...
user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
360 views

What is the quantity of the "a" in "maxime"?

When I come across the word maxime in macronized texts, it usually lacks a macron over the first vowel. In Ørberg's Lingua Latīna series, however, in which the macrons are (from what I understand) ...
Joel Derfner's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
711 views

Are vowels long before "gn"?

Allen and Greenough, §10d, provide a general rule: A vowel before ns, nf, gn, is long: as in cōnstāns, īnferō, māgnus [emphasis modified] This seems to agree with Priscian: 'gnus' quoque vel '...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
6k views

How do I know where to place macrons?

How do I use macrons? I understand what they do and how they do it, I just don't understand how you know when and where to place them.
Jason Heights's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
636 views

Vowel length in future perfect indicative and perfect conjunctive

I want to compare future perfect active indicative and perfect active conjunctive. They look identical, apart from first person singular (cogitavero ≠ cogitaverim). But is there a difference in the ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
430 views

Interpretation of circumflex in a poem from 1621

A poem from 1621 contains one ô and one â. The ô is the interjection ô and the â is in the relative pronoun quâ. No circumflexes are used elsewhere in the poem. Does the circumflex (or caret or ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
249 views

Was vowel quantity observed when singing?

It's well established that vowel length was phonemic in Latin, and that it played an important role in poetic verse. It seems probable to me that it also mattered when singing, but do we have evidence ...
Florianus's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
384 views

In contemporary spoken Latin, do people mark the 1st-declension ablative case?

In contemporary spoken Latin, such as (I think) occurs among canon lawyers in the Vatican and at Latin-only conventicula, do people clearly lengthen the -ā at the end of first-declension nouns in the ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is the 'i' in 'videt' long or short?

I am currently reading Ørberg’s Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, where he thankfully makes use of the macron to distinguish long vowels form short ones. However, and I have seen this elsewhere as well,...
Thomas Wening's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do we know the quantity of vowels followed by several consonants?

Judging by dictionaries and grammars, we seem to know the length of almost every vowel in classical Latin. For word-final vowels and those followed by a single consonant, the length can be figured out ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
274 views

How do I know if there's an "invisible yod"?

I've been told that the first syllable of abiciō is long by position, because it's actually an underlying *abjiciō, which causes it to be syllabified as *ab-ji-ci-ō before the *ji simplifies to i. So ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
325 views

Knowing the two quantities of 'est'

There are several forms of ĕsse and ēsse (= edere) that only differ by the quantity of the initial vowel, perhaps the most common one being ĕst/ēst. How do we know this difference in quantities? ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
294 views

Understanding vowel quantity in fieri

The verb fieri has an unusual conjugation, and one of the weird aspects is the long I before many vowels: fīō, fīās, fīet… Why is the I long? Does the origin of ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
413 views

Is there any rule to the length of "e" in "-ensis<"?

Is there any rule to the length of e in -ensis? I looked up the following words in Perseus (which give entries from 'Lewis & Short' and 'Elem. Lewis') and Wiktionary, without being able to ...
Catomic's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
440 views

What is the correct vowel quantity for the participle of legō?

In the following, vowel quantities which I am uncertain of, will be marked with both a breve and a macron, so they should not be considered the answer; that is what I am searching for. This whole ...
Canned Man's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
462 views

Why a long ē in rēx, rēgis but not in regere or regiō?

I'm assuming it's not a phonological thing—like, if the ē in rēx was compensatorily lengthened because of g—>x, then it would be regis, not rēgis, right?
Joel Derfner's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
450 views

What evidence points to a long ō in the first syllable of nōscō's present-tense form?

I've read in various sources that the verb nosco 'know' had a long vowel in the first syllable in Classical Latin pronunciation: nōscō [noːskoː]. I'm wondering what the linguistic evidence is for the ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
296 views

Are there other verbs in -uō?

Someone asked me recently about the conjugation of the obscene verb futuō, futuere, futuī, futūtus—and in particular about the quantity of the ū in the participle. I intended to look at some other -...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
779 views

Vowel shortening before another vowel: Exceptions

I am rather ashamed to admit that I used to pronounce Alexandrea (or Alexandria, cf. Ἀλεξάνδρεια) incorrectly in Latin, that is I mistakenly applied the famous rule "vocalis ante vocalem ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
352 views

Was the old ablative pronoun "med" or "mēd"?

In Classical times, the first singular ablative pronoun ("from me") was mē, with a long ē. However, the older form seems to have been med, with a final -d. Do we know whether this earlier form was ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
190 views

Is the U long or short in the forms ussi and ustus of the verb ūro?

I'm uncertain about the length of the u in the perfect and perfect passive participle stems of the verb uro /uːroː/. My research Lewis (1890) gives "ūrō ūssī, ūstus" but doesn't explain why....
Asteroides's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
342 views

The length of the final vowel in first declension nouns (Greek)

How can you tell whether a first declension noun ends in a short or long vowel? Background When the word is written and accented, I may be able to tell. (Not always. E.g. θύρᾱ if without the macron)...
Catomic's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
642 views

What is the correct vowel quantity for words formed from sĭ̄gn-?

My dictionary (Latinsk ordbok – latinsk–norsk, Cappelen, Oslo 2007) has for all instances of words with sĭ̄gn- a long ī, e.g.: īnsīgniō, 4. īnsīgnis, adj. m. komp. (sīgnum) īnsīgne, is, n. sīgnātē, ...
Canned Man's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is it rare to elide the final vowel if it is long?

In the Ars Poetica we find the line: posse linenda cedro et levi servanda cupresso which pedecerto scans as Pṓssĕ lĭnḗndă cĕdro‿ḗt lēuī́ sēruā́ndă cŭprḗsso In C.O. Brink's commentary on Horace we ...
bobsmith76's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
609 views

Why does the length of a vowel before verb endings change?

I'm learning Latin and I see that the stem I am supposed to add things onto keeps changing from long to short and back again. For example, take teneō, tenēre, tenuī, tentum. As I see the present ...
John Matthew's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
241 views

How long was the privative alpha?

In Ancient Greek, the "privative alpha" is a negating prefix, cognate to Latin in- (as in "in-conceivable", not "in-flammable") and English "un-". It survives in English in words like "a-typical" and "...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 68.1k
7 votes
1 answer
283 views

Vowel Quantity in Third Person Plural of Passive Voice

Cārī collēgae, The third person plural of the passive voice in the present stem has a peculiarity that I noticed a couple of weeks ago (far later than I should have, I might add) and have been curious ...
Emma Neureiter's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
318 views

In ancient Attic Greek, how (un)stable were "ΝΣ"/"ΝΖ" and preceding vowels?

In Latin, it is thought (as far as I know) that within a single word, /ns/ and /nf/ were always preceded by a long vowel. This is a somewhat complicated result of a hypothesized sound change in words ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
195 views

Short vowels in lucubrando

I came across a poem from 1621 written in Sapphic stanza. It contains this line: pervigil Christi, lucubrando sudans To scan that, the third word must be lŭcŭbrandŏ. L&S ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
392 views

Did Latin ever have a rule of lengthening vowels in monosyllables ending in /s/?

I was surprised by the following portion of "Exceptions to rhotacism", by Kyle Gorman (2012): Latin has a bimoraic minimal word requirement, implemented by a process of Subminimal ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
147 views

Is there a dictionary for pronunciation explanations?

All dictionaries I have seen that state vowel quantities simply state them but do not explain how the quantity of each vowel was determined. The same goes for the distinctions between vocalic and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
155 views

How many vowel qualities did Oscan have?

Oscan was an Italic language related to Latin, which died out somewhere in the early centuries CE. It's notable for being used in the Fabulae Atellanae and for being the source of various loans into ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
321 views

Syllable and mora count for long vowel with iota subscript?

Introduction I have begun learning Ancient Greek with the revised edition of Clyde Pharr’s work. Some of the case endings are (as expected) slightly different than what I have seen to be the case in ...
Canned Man's user avatar
  • 3,339
6 votes
1 answer
702 views

Under what conditions can "length by position" occur, and what does it actually mean?

I am studying Latin and one of the definitions in my textbook is kind of confusing. A syllable can be long in one of two ways: Length by nature. If the syllable contains a long vowel or ...
James's user avatar
  • 69
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are there any words in Latin that are "light"?

In Latin, every syllable is either "light" or "heavy". A "heavy" syllable is one that has a long vowel and/or a coda consonant, and a "light" syllable is anything else. This distinction is important ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 68.1k
6 votes
1 answer
147 views

Why is there a short ŭ in rŭtus?

In Cerberus's list of u-stem verbs, rŭō, rŭere, rŭī, rŭtus is the only one with a short ŭ in the participle stem. Why is this? Does it go back to different types of verbs in PIE, as with stătus ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 68.1k
6 votes
1 answer
643 views

The correct use of the breve in Latin

Correct me if I'm wrong. There are 6 diphthongs in Latin: ae au ei eu oe ui So if one were to encounter ăĕ it would follow that both vowels would be short and do not together form diphthong which ...
bobsmith76's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
147 views

An unambiguous example of 'īt'

The regular perfect them form for "he went" is iit. In an answer to this question about two short versus one long vowel, TKR mentions that this form can be contracted to īt. In a text without macrons ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
191 views

Unexpected long vowels in Plautus before a word-final T

In a comment to my answer on a vowel length question, Vincent Krebs pointed out that Plautus does not follow the classical rules that I laid out: Plautus does not always shorten the vowel before -t. ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
135 views

Why is ū long in "Vitruvius"?

Lewis & Short and Gaffiot's dictionaries both mark long ū in the name Vitrūvius. How do we know this, and do we know the reason for it? In my experience, most words with the sequence -uvi- + vowel ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 29.5k
6 votes
1 answer
720 views

Quality of final ĕ ĭ ŏ

Evidence from the Romance languages provides fairly good evidence for distinct qualities, [ɛ] vs. [eː], for ĕ and ē in stressed syllables when followed by a consonant. Likewise for ŏ and ō as [ɔ] vs. [...
Asteroides's user avatar
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6 votes
0 answers
121 views

What is the etymology of Ἁμαδρυάς (Hamadryas)? Is the second alpha actually long?

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: ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 29.5k
5 votes
2 answers
370 views

Why is the root vowels of 'salsus' and 'saliō' from 'sāl' shortened?

Working my way through the Duolingo course, I noticed that salsus has a short root vowel, even though sāl, sālis¹ is long-voweled. The etymology entry on Wiktionary states that the adjective is from ...
Canned Man's user avatar
  • 3,339
5 votes
2 answers
344 views

Does any Greek word have a geminate consonant after a long vowel?

I recently noticed a pattern in loans from Hebrew into Greek: the letter šin (or sin, or łin if you're really archaic) is transcribed σσ after a short vowel, σ elsewhere. My knowledge of Classical ...
Draconis's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
855 views

How can you tell whether prefixed ‘in-’ is the preposition ‘in’ or Indo-European ‘in-’?

Background The verb īnsum has the prefix in-. Prefixing in/in- to words, changes their meaning to ‘in’, ‘on’ et sim., or ‘un-’, ‘non’ et sim. (ɔ:¹ negation).² However, according to Wiktionary, the ...
Canned Man's user avatar
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