Hi Peripatein, sorry about the bad explanation before. I was trying my best to oversimplify the idea of the "recessive accent". So I don't think this explanation will help any better, but this is how I think of it... I'm not an expert on this, but I understand the basic idea
The thing to keep in mind (I think) is that, unlike in French, the accent doesn't change the quality of the vowel, e.g. parle, parlé. Instead, it showed the "pitch" of the accented syllable. If you look at this picture of the "pitch" of the Greek adjective melíghrun
("meligèrun") (accusative singular adjective, sweet-voiced), you'll see a steep pitch drop
from the accented syllable "lí" to the next syllable "gh":
The general "rule" is that you have
(a) this steep pitch drop, then
(b) a short length (if possible) but not a long length
at the end of the word. That's how the recessive accent works. E.g.:
In each of these cases, you have the steep pitch drop from the penult to the ultima.
In each of these cases, the steep pitch drop goes from the antepenult to the penult, because the last syllable is short (rules (a) and (b) above).
Where you have a 2-syllable verb, and
(a) the 1st syllable is long and the last syllable is short,
the steep pitch drop occurs within
the 1st syllable (this is where i oversimplified before). e.g. There is a circumflex over the i ( î ) in ei)=pe, tell! (2nd person singular aorist imperative), since the 1st syllable is long and the 2nd is short. The circumflex in Greek indicates a steep pitch drop within the one (long syllable).
(b) the 1st syllable is short and the last syllable is short,
the steep pitch drop is between
the penult and the ultima. e.g. there is an acute over the e ( é ) in lége, tell! (2nd person singular present imperative), since both syllables are short.
This probably all sounds too complex, but it all comes from the rule I described above. There are still exceptions, such as contracted verbs. But once you get an understanding of how the accents work generally, the exceptions shouldn't be too hard (I don't know lots of them, I always make mistakes
The book also asserts that any interior vowel (any vowel, excluding ultima) is short (may be counted as one time).
Are w, h, and all other diphtongs and vowels marked as long, ALWAYS short when being in the rear, before the ultima?
No, I don't know what the book is talking about there. Certain interior diphthongs may be shortened where they are followed by vowels, e.g. the 1st syllable of poieîn can be scanned short in tragedy. But what the book is saying sounds wrong. Could you please quote the book for me? Thanks