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lacruma etc (was: Y not?)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 19:04
On Tuesday, January 25, 2005, at 07:48 , Henrik Theiling wrote:

> Hi! > > Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> writes: >> ... >> lacruma ~ lacrima >> maxumus ~ maximus >> lubet ~ libet > > Is it a coincidence that this i/u is always in front of labials? > Labials could've changed [i] to [y], then.
No, it is not a co-incidence. But the change [i] --> [u] is incorrect. In pre-latin the vowel concerned was short, unstressed /o/; in open syllables in the earliest Latin texts it appears always as |u| before labials but |i| elsewhere. ======================================================= On Tuesday, January 25, 2005, at 10:48 , Muke Tever wrote:
> Sihler suggests it was a schwa, > which might sensibly assimilate to a 'u' spelling with a following > labial. I kind of agree -- given that, to me, half an H is a perfectly > sensible way of spelling it (especially given what the Greeks used it > for).
At the time of Claudius the Greek H was pronounced [e:], which is IMO not much like [@]. I think the Claudian letter was simply I with small horizontal bar added to show the modification of the vowel.
> But that's probably also influenced by my opinion that Latin > had a lot more schwas than we give it credit for :p
We can never know the finer points of Latin pronunciation (with time-travel :) But where unstressed vowels become shwa, this generally affects them in al positions. I Latin, the weakening of short vowels after the stressed first syllable in archaic Latin (the Classical stress was different) was different in free & closed syllable, for example: ad + facere --> afficere [a] --> [I] ad + factum --> afectum [a] --> [E] Also we might expect the diphthongs _ae_ and _au_ to weaken to sounds like the Welsh |ei| [@j] and |ow| [@w} - they don't. _ae_ [aj] becomes simple 'long i' [i:] and _au_ [aw] become [u:], e.g. in + aequus --> ini:quus in + claudere --> inclu:dere But I will admit that the weakening of _all_ short vowel to /i/ [I] in free syllables does give the 'feel' of shwa. But before labials the vowel often appears as /u/ [U] which might reflected a 'rounded shwa' more like the French one. (BTW - the behavior in the _final_ syllable was different still!) We clearly, however, have a transition period in the 1st centuries BCE & CE where spellings like _optumus_ give way to _otptimus_. Sometimes, indeed, the -i- spelling appears early as in the 1st pers. plural of the 3rd conj. where we find forms like mittimus virtually to the exclusion of _mittumus_*. But we know the -umus [UmUs] pronunciation survived in some regions, particularly Gaul where, on the analogy of the 1s, 2nd & 4th conjugations, it became stressed on the penultimate, giving ['omos] --> French -ons. *In a few words -umus persisted in the Classical language: sumus (we are), possumus (we can), volumus (we want, are willing), no:lumus (we are unwilling). But we are told that the Emperor Augustus actually said _simus_ [sImUs] for "we are". Those who think the sound was [y] do so largely on the testimony of Quintillian: "medius est quidam u et i litterae sonus. non enim _optimumum_ dicimus aut _optumum_." The sound is indeed in the middle between the letters u and i; for we do not say _optumum_ or _optimum_. That, however, should strictly mean high central vowel [1] or [u\] - but it could be a relatively 'high shwa' either rounded or unrounded - we simply do not know :) Ray ======================================================= ======================================================= "If /ni/ can change into /A/, then practically anything can change into anything" Yuen Ren Chao, 'Language and Symbolic Systems"


Muke Tever <hotblack@...>