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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: > >> Latin: >> >> 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 >rhyme.
> >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 'Golden Latin'. 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 Vulgar Latin. 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. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================