Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

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@...>:
>>(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 pronunciation. -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>