OT Latin final -M (was: Adpositional irregularities)
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, January 25, 2006, 11:51|
Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting R A Brown <ray@...>:[snip]
>>(the final -m was silent, but some think the vowel was nasalized in
>>compensation. Others think it was just silent. I'm inclined to agree
>>with the latter FWIW)
> What period are you talking about here? Tore Jansson, in his popular book on the
> history of Latin, dates the loss of final /m/ to the later Empire.
I wonder why he says that. In Classical prosody of the late Republic &
early empire, words finals ending in -m are regularly elided before a
word beginning with a vowel. That simply does not make sense if the -m
were still pronounced. There is IIRC also evidence from graffiti of loss
of final -m by that date.
Indeed even in Old Latin we find spellings without final -m, e.g.
oino = CL unum; aide = CL aedem; duonoro = CL bonorum
This does not mean that the final vowels were not nasalized - there was
no way of indicating nasalization per_se.
I was oversimplifying in my statement which you quoted. In Classical
prosody, word finals ending in Vm are, as I said, elided before a
following vowel just like any normal vowel ending would be; but before
a consonant, the Vm is scanned as a heavy syllable altho (we know this
from various evidence) the vowel was short. This suggests that the
educated, at least, did nasalize the vowel and that before a consonant
there was an 'automatic' non-phonemic homorganic nasal between V and C.
I believe nasalized vowels behave like this in Portuguese.
Further evidence is, I think, is that Augustus proposed writing final M
without the second vertical stroke. There was, it seems to me, little
point in doing so if final -m was pronounced /m/.
So why write it as |m| in the first place? Well, it is clear the
prescriptivism of Classical Latin was conservative. It would have
preserved the final nasalized of early Latin. Without creating a new
symbol, there were only two to choose from to symbolize 'preceding
nasalization', namely |n| or |m|. To have used the former would have
been ambiguous as /n/ was a permitted final sound in Latin, e.g. tamen
(however), nomen (name) etc. But |m| was unambiguous. Augustus was being
unnecesarily pedantic :)
What I was referring to was the pronunciation of the common people. The
evidence of graffit & the Romance languages seem to me (and others) to
indicate that in the common Latin of the Empire (early & late):
i. in polysyllabic words, the final -m was silent and vowel unnasalized.
cf. French _leur_, Italian _loro_ <-- (il)lorum
ii. in monosyllabic words, the nasalization is lost & the nasalized
vowel becomes Vn, e.g.
CL rem /rE~/ --> VL *ren /rEn/ --> Fr. rien /rjE~/
Cl quem /k_wE~/ --> VL *ken /kEn/ --> Sp. quien /kjen/
This is what I understand the position to be. I wonder why Tore Jansson
gives such a late date to the loss of final -m.
BTW final /m/ was, of course, restored in Medieval Latin, the common IAL
of western & central Europe in the Middle Ages - but that is a spelling
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