Re: Latin Vowel Harmony?
|From:||Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, January 20, 2000, 6:05|
At 5:35 pm -0600 19/1/00, Ed Heil wrote:
>Daniel A. Wier wrote:
>> 1st dec: puella bona, puellae bonae, puellam bonam...
>> 2nd dec: Deus meus, Dei mei; bellum malum, bella mala...
>> With noun-adjective agreement, you have rhyme, or "word-ending vowel
>> harmony". Not in all cases (puer bonus, mulier bona), but in most.
>By no means. Third declension is very common (I would not be
>surprised if it were the most common) one for nouns and adjectives,
I think you may well be right.
>and it is not confined to a particular gender, thus breaking the
>It's my impression that having adjectives and nouns rhyme is an
>exception rather than a rule.
Yes - in fact some authors, e.g. Cicero, seem deliberately to avoid rhymes
like -o:rum.....-o:rum. In Vulgar Latin one imagines adjectives must've
attached themselves obediently adjacent to their nouns (the Romancelangs
suggest that the post-posited position was more common for descriptive
adjectives). But the Classical authors make greater use of relative
freedom of word-order in Classical Latin and, even in prose, rhythm & sound
clearly had far greater importance than it does for us - no doubt the
result of the teaching of the 'rhetores'.
For various reasons I concur with Ed's observation: "It's my impression
that having adjectives and nouns rhyme is an exception rather than a rule."
>But then, I just know Classical Latin, which according to many people
>on this list has never been spoken by any human being in the history
>of the world, so what do I know.
Quite a lot, I suspect :)
Classical Latin is quite clearly a literary conlang - very crudely
simplified: the language of the Latini modelled according to the then
understood Greek norms of what literature should be. But it was never
static and changed over the centuries of its use. Ed, I'm sure, knows that
the so-called 'Silver Latin' of Tacitus is rather different from Cicero's
But equally certain, from graffiti & the evidence of the Romancelangs, the
common Latin of legionaries, merchants (who'd have had some education),
settlers etc was not the Classical norms, but what has come to be called
Those of Senatorial rank in the late Republic and early Empire would
certainly have approximated to Classical Latin, but it is difficult to
imagine that they all spoke as in the oratorical style of Cicero's speeches
or, less still, the rhetorical style of Tacitus' writings when just
chatting among themselves. Cicero's style in his letters is noticeably
different from that of his speeches and his philosophic writings. The
letters, I'm sure, are a pretty good representation of the sort of way he'd
talk to his peers in everyday life.
(Quite different from Pliny's letters which were conscious literary
products. Cicero didn't write his letters for publication, Pliny did.
But fortunately Atticus thought C's letters worth collecting & publishing -
good for him.)
These Romans would, I'd guess, have used various registers from 'very high'
on formal occasions (making speeches in the senate, conducting law suits
etc etc) through various level 'down to' the the Vulgar Latin of their
servants and slaves, the soldiers they commanded.
And, of course, people of such rank generally had quite a good command of
Greek during this period.
A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
[J.G. Hamann 1760]