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syllable division

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syllable division

Postby chad » Thu Jul 31, 2003 6:22 am

hi guys,<br /><br />i've just finished reading through two authorities on syllable division, the classic Smyth grammar (section 140) and the new 1994 book by Devine and Stephens, The prosody of Greek speech (Oxford Uni Press: 1994).<br /><br />Both have left me confused... they both admit that the ancients divided syllables one way... but in their books, they prescribe different ways of doing it (for different reasons).<br /><br />Smyth (in section 140.d) says that "compounds divide at the point of union, eg an.ago=", but then says "(The ancients often wrote a.nago=)". Smyth also says (in section 140.f) "The ancients divided ek toutou as e.ktou.tou. This practice is now abandoned." Ie, the Greeks thought of their language as "open syllabled" wherever possible <br />(the consonant kappa does not "close" epsilon, but is pushed into the onset of the syllable tou), but Smyth prescribes "closing" syllables for a variety of reasons. Why??<br /><br />Also, Devine and Stephens say (at pages 32 and ff) that "metrical evidence implies" that mutes followed by liquids or nasals are "split" between the coda of one syllable and the onset of the next if the first syllable is long, but that the consonants are both pushed into the second syllable's onset if the first syllable is short. Eg, they say that in Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, line 442,<br /><br />[face=SPIonic]oi( tou= pa.tro/j, tw=| pat.ri\ duna/menoi, to\ dra=n[/face]<br /><br />the syllables are split where i've thrown in the dots (because, in the iambic trimeter, the pa of patros is short and the pa of patri is long). so long syllables are closed, and shorts are open.<br /><br />but then they admit that all the classical evidence (eg Attic and Delphic inscriptions, Herodian's explicit rules, even Linear B, &c) goes against this, showing syllable division to create "open syllables", whether the syllable is long or short (so, in this case, both patros and patri would be divided after alpha).<br /><br />so after all this i have two questions...<br /><br />specifically, how can "metrical evidence" establish that long syllables followed by muta cum liquida consonants are closed by the mute, while short syllables followed by the same consonants are open? i don't get how that could be established without first assuming that long syllables tend to be closed (which is what is in question, and goes against the evidence).<br /><br />generally, where all the evidence seems to indicate that classical greek was an "open syllable" type of language (as they admit), why do authorities like Smyth and Davies + Stephens prescribe opposite rules for syllable division?<br /><br />this all might sound unnecessarily boring, but as a beginner i'd like to get this right from the outset.<br /><br />cheers, chad. :)
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