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Re: Stress placement systems

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Monday, September 25, 2006, 18:13
On Mon, 25 Sep 2006 17:01:08 +0100, R A Brown <ray@...>

>> Quite right. > >Thanks :)
No problem. :)
>> In fact, I would argue that Ancient Greek lacked even >> lexical pitch -- i.e. the pitch was phrasal in nature. My main piece of >> evidence for this is the use of the grave accent. It indicates that, >> where a high pitch would be pronounced in isolation, it is not >> pronounced in the given phrase. > >The recessive accent on verbs, neuter nouns, exocentric compounds 7 one >or two other categories can be defined phonologically. But on other >groups, where the accent can be so defined, whether the word is >proparoxytone, paroxytone, properisomenon or perispomenon must surely be >a matter of lexis. It seems odd to me if _in these groups_ oxytones are >then not lexical but phrasal; these words do have final stress in modern >Greek.
Recessive accent on neuter nouns? That's news to me, to be honest. I imagine, however, that this was inherited from PIE. IIRC, most neuter nouns in the protolanguage also had recessive accent. Some did not, however; e.g. *(H)yugóm "yoke" > Gk. _zugón_ "(ibid.)". My point was not that the accentuation of oxytones *must* be phrasal in origin. Quite to the contrary, PIE was full of oxytones. The point was that, in Ancient Greek (and, I suspect, in the last stages of PIE itself), pitch accent existed at the *phrasal* level, not the lexical. To an extent, this is true of all languages, as words are rarely spoken in isolation. Within any given phrase, some words are naturally more prominent (more *marked*) than others. However, it seems to me that this is particularly true for languages with pitch accent as opposed to stress or tonal accent, because intonation is primarily a feature of pitch.
>> As a result, it's no surprise that the grave is >> typically used for prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, and genitive >> nouns. Basically, these kinds of words tended to be treated as clitics, >> at least on the prosodic level. I think this echoes the situation of >> latest PIE. > >Do we, in fact, know what a final grave means? I have heard/read it >suggested that it indicated that the vowel was not raised as much as one >would expect.
A grave seems to indicate a marked lowering of pitch. Cf. the graphical form of the circumflex, which historically developed from acute plus grave. Some ancient texts mark *all* unaccented syllables with graves, and some even leave accented syllables *unmarked*. Normal convention, however, came to use the grave to mark a syllable with "suppressed" accent; i.e. it would be accented when pronounced in isolation, or in substantive position, but not in attributive position (modifying a head noun). OTOH, there seems to be a strong tendency cross-linguistically to avoid two equally-accented syllables. Generally, one will get "subsumed" beneath the other.
>I think the case for prepositions is certainly strong (the enclitic >pronouns are in any case enclitic - accents occur only on the >non-enclitic forms). Presumably the graves on the definite article would >be regarded in the same way - it makes sense, though the final >circumflexes, where they occur on pronouns & the definite article cannot >be considered this way. > >Certainly the situation is phrasal in that enclitics affect the pitch >accentuation of the whole phrase - but should enclitics be considered as >separate words?
Where word boundaries were indicated at all in written Ancient Greek, clitics were written as separate words.
>The final grave business is certainly an interesting one. If only we had >time travel ........ ;)
Heh, indeed. As for the rest of your post, you're preaching to the choir. :) - Rob