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

The verb nĭteō "shine" is only used in the active, and the verb nītor "strive" only in the passive (it's deponent), so at first glance it seems like there won't be confusion ...
Draconis's user avatar
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16 votes
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How do we know the quantity of vowels followed by several consonants?

The length of vowels with “hidden quantity” can often be discovered from one of the following sources of information: Explicit descriptions of vowel length in ancient texts “Lachmann’s law” is a well-...
Asteroides's user avatar
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13 votes

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

For my answer, I will use Bennett's New Latin Grammar as a reference. There are two important rules which come together to make a long ū in nūntius. As you noted, a vowel followed by nt or nd is ...
brianpck's user avatar
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13 votes

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

As varro says, it's always long. This is predictable as one example of a more general rule that any vowel is always long before "ns" or "nf". This rule of vowel length is thought ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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13 votes

How did Caesar pronounce Latin overlined vowels?

Q1: my first question is whether overlining is the same as "stress"? Not really. The overline indicates vowel length—how long you sustain the vowel sound—which is a component of stress in ...
Draconis's user avatar
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12 votes
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What is the quantity of the "a" in "maxime"?

On the one hand, we have MAX(IMO), A with an apex in CIL VI 2080 17 However, as De Angelis and Chilà 2015 put it, "the interpretation of the vowel of maximus as long is anything but certain" (p. ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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11 votes

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

Well, there is some fairly simple evidence that a sequence of two identical short vowels could in some cases be treated as equivalent to a single long vowel, namely that the former can contract into ...
TKR's user avatar
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11 votes
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How can one predict the length of theme vowels in verbs?

Whether or not this is how the forms really developed, this is how I organize it in my head. And it has proven quite efficient, so I consider it a good description of what classical Latin conjugation ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
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Interpretation of circumflex in a poem from 1621

*Please see addendum at the bottom I have found two possible explanations for the circumflex: (1) to indicate a long vowel and (2) to indicate an ablative. Both of these functions would seem to ...
Penelope's user avatar
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11 votes

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

tl;dr: as the risk of mistake is higher than for other suffixes, in contexts where analyzing the cases is difficult (like chanting psalms in a fast pace) people often distinguish the length less for -...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
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11 votes

How do I know where to place macrons?

Macrons are mainly pronunciation guides, telling which vowels are pronounced long. In some cases they can resolve ambiguities, when two words only differ by the length a vowel. Using them is not ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
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Why is the "u" in "nuntius" and "nuntiare" long by exception?

Monophthongization (of diphthongs in Latin) most likely happened after Osthoff's shortening (in Proto-Italic). Osthoff's law: A long vowel before a liquid, nasal, or glide plus a stop was shortened ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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11 votes
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What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

Any syllable containing a long vowel is heavy, but not all heavy syllables contain long vowels. Syllabification is a fairly abstract concept, so unfortunately, there are multiple conflicting ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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11 votes
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Is the 'i' in 'videt' long or short?

The i in videt is short. The length of a vowel in classical Latin pronunciation is defined by its duration—its "quantity"—as opposed to its "quality", i.e. the nature of the sound: ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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11 votes

How did Caesar pronounce Latin overlined vowels?

In addition to Draconis' excellent answer, you may also be interested to know that: The overline is called a macron. Macrons were not used by the ancient Romans, and today they are almost only used ...
Sebastian Koppehel's user avatar
11 votes
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Why does the length of a vowel before verb endings change?

Most people just memorize it. There are only four patterns to learn—all first-conjugation verbs will go -ō -ās -at -āmus -ātis -ant, for example—so this tends to be enough. From a historical-...
Draconis's user avatar
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10 votes
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How long was the privative alpha?

Alpha privative was regularly short in Ancient Greek, as shown in Smyth (1920) §885 (a long vowel would have been written with a macron, rendered on the Perseus website as an underscore after the ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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10 votes
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How do I know if there's an "invisible yod"?

To my knowledge, the compounds of jaciō are the only words where this complication occurs. And in Imperial Latin, these words frequently scan with a light initial syllable, indicating loss of /j/ and ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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10 votes
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Why is the prefix con- sometimes short, sometimes long?

We can consider the underlying length of the vowel in con- to be short: this is the default. In cōnsēdī, and in the majority of cases where the vowel in the prefix cō̆(n)- is long, it is a result of ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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9 votes
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Is there any rule to the length of "e" in "-ensis<"?

It's always long, but some dictionaries don't bother to mark the length since it's "long by position" anyway, so it doesn't matter for a metrical point of view.
varro's user avatar
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9 votes
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Are vowels long before "gn"?

First of all, it's important to note that syllables containing a vowel + gn combination are long (or, less confusingly, "heavy"), regardless of the length of the vowel itself. As Bennet says: A ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
9 votes
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Why a long ē in rēx, rēgis but not in regere or regiō?

My first thought was that this looks like an ablaut variant. After looking into it a bit, this seems possible, but far from certain. I'm not familar with the field of IE literature, but using Google, ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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9 votes
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Are there other verbs in -uō?

There is abluō, abluere, abluī, ablūtus. And acuō, acuere, acuī, acūtus. And arguō, arguere, arguī, argūtus. And compluō, compluere, compluī, complūtus. And exuō, exuere, exuī, exūtus. And futuō, ...
Cerberus's user avatar
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9 votes
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How can you tell whether prefixed ‘in-’ is the preposition ‘in’ or Indo-European ‘in-’?

The negative prefix in- typically attaches to an adjective, while the prepositional prefix in- typically attaches to a verb. The main complication to this distribution is the existence of adjectives ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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9 votes

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

The stem of sāl is săl-. This is documented in many dictionaries, including Lewis and Short. Most derivatives are taken from the stem of the noun, not the nominative. The only outlier with respect ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
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Why is the root vowels of 'salsus' and 'saliō' from 'sāl' shortened?

As has been pointed out, it's the long vowel in the nom. and voc. sg. of sāl that requires explanation, not the short vowel everywhere else, and it doesn't look like we have a good consensus. Sihler, ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
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9 votes

Does vowel quantity ever change in the root of a word during conjugation?

Yes; this is more common with conjugation (inflection of verbs) than with declension (inflection of nouns or adjectives), but there are examples with both. To set aside the issue of "stems", ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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9 votes

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

It's long. The two consonants after the vowel mean that poetic meter can't tell us anything about the vowel length. However, ē and ĕ had different descendants in Romance: ē became Proto-Romance e, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes
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Syllable and mora count for long vowel with iota subscript?

I'm not aware of any evidence that "long diphthongs" like ῃ were prosodically different from "short diphthongs" or from long vowels. (BTW the "long diphthong" category ...
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes
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Knowing the two quantities of 'est'

Servius (4th cent. CE) in his commentary on Virgil writes: sānē EDO habet et rēctam, sed antīquam dēclīnātiōnem, ut 'edō edis edit', et anomalam, ut 'edō ēs ēst': quārum secunda et tertia persōnae ...
Unbrutal_Russian's user avatar

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