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Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

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Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby pmda » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:45 am

On line 240 of LLPSI Cap XXXIV Orberg gives the following direction about elision:

[B] Vocalis ultima (item -am, -em, -um, im) ante vocalem primam (vel h-) vocabuli sequentis eliditur

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus: Lesbi'atqu'amemus

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam: Od'et...Quar'id...

I understand what he's trying to explain but I don't understand his explanation.

In 'Vocalis ultima (item, am, -em,..)' I understand that he's saying that a final vowel in a word is elided when the first letter of the following word is a vowel .

i.e. 'atque amemus' becomes atqu'amemus

1. What I don't understand is why he has 'item, -am, -em...' in brackets. These are not examples of words ending in any kind of vowel and they don't even describe the beginning of words with a vowel.

2. Also why does he say 'vel h' in brackets after vocalem primum? 'h' is neither a vowel and nor is it even used in any of his examples of elision.

I think I've figured out what he's explaining but his explanation makes no sense...?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:14 pm

pmda wrote:I think I've figured out what he's explaining but his explanation makes no sense...?

It makes very good sense.
Cognobilissimum est.
item = the same for words that end in "m", words ending -am etc. // item -am et sequentia per 'm' terminantem
(vel h-) = or words starting h- (which is not considered a letter proper) // vel ante vocabula per h- litteram incipientem (quae littera vera non habetur).
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby pmda » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:32 pm

Adrianus, thanks.

How would it work in practice if you have a word ending in 'em' and followed by a word beginning with a vowel such as '...quem amemus' - what is there to elide since the word ending in 'em' etc...has no final vowel?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:42 pm

M-final simply modifies the vowel before it, and is not truly a consonant (at least, rarely or never in poetry). That is, it merely indicates that the vowel is to be nasalized - the M is pronounced with the mouth open.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby pmda » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:23 pm

Yes....but

[B] Vocalis ultima (item -am, -em, -um, im) ante vocalem primam (vel h-) vocabuli sequentis eliditur

....what get's elided? Do you have an example?

...quem amemus...: would become ??
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:15 pm

quem amemus = qu' amemus --> qu'a - me- mus (tres syllabae)

Vide A&G, §612d,e,f http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0001:part=3:section=3&highlight=scansion
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:33 pm

Sceptra Tenens wrote:M-final simply modifies the vowel before it, and is not truly a consonant (at least, rarely or never in poetry).

"Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat"
The final m in "quem" is certainly a consonant here, otherwise the first syllable would be short.
Certùm consonans hîc est m littera terminans, aliter correpta sit syllaba versûs prima.

"et quantum est hominum venustiorum"
Non minùs "-m" littera in "hominum" (etsi eliditur "-m" consonans in "quantum")
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:10 pm

Sorry, I had my mind stuck on elision when I wrote that. Certainly it has the force of a consonant when followed by a consonant.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Alatius » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:19 pm

It's not necessarily the case that the m is fully pronounced before a word beginning with a consonant: another way to analyze it would be to assume that the nasalized vowel is long.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sinister Petrus » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:08 pm

This is why we (Latin teachers) need to start making the nasalized final m a fact from day one—just part of the pronunciation page in any book. I make sure all of my students are aware of this feature, even if we don't necessarily use it.

*Grumble, grumble*

</rant>

Yes. "quem amemus" becomes "qu'amemus" in poetic elision. Though in another example upthread "quantum est" is likely to become "quantum'st" through prodelision. (Aw crud, another ikky elision rule.)
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:07 pm

Sinister Petrus wrote:Yes. "quem amemus" becomes "qu'amemus" in poetic elision. Though in another example upthread "quantum est" is likely to become "quantum'st" through prodelision. (Aw crud, another ikky elision rule.)


Now that you brought that up - does this only apply to est, or also to some of the other inflections of esse? Also, while I don't doubt the exception at all, I've always been curious about how we know this. Did one of the ancients tell us directly, or is it through some linguistic sorcery that we have come to know this?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:16 pm

I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:55 am



I don't think I'm blind, but I can't find the discussion on prodelision in that topic if you posted that for my benefit...

EDIT: Ah, I see - there is no discussion of it in particular, but there are incidental references to inscriptions in which it is evident.

But what about the other inflections of esse?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:07 pm

I posted it for Sinister Petrus because it discusses the sound of final -m. Plautus contains lots of examples of prodelision, Sceptra Tenens.
Sinistro Petro eam misi, quod ea sonum -m terminatis spectat. Apud Plautum sunt multa prodelisionis exempla, Sceptra Tenens.

Post Scriptum
De prodelisione cum "es" et "est" apud Plautum, vide
http://www.archive.org/details/captiviofplautus00plauuoft pp.24, 25
Last edited by adrianus on Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:12 pm

I have always wondered what happens to the nasalization in synaloephe with -em/-am/-um etc. My impression is that there is no communis opinio on the matter. What do you guys think?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:33 pm

You have Lindsay on this, http://www.archive.org/details/latinlanguagean00lindgoog §§61-65, and Allen, Vox Latina, pp.30-31. I prefer Lindsay.
Tractata est res in The Latin Language de Lindsay (qui liber in interrete praebitus) vel in opere Vox Latina nomine de Allen. Illum librum de Lindsay praefero.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby timeodanaos » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:12 pm

My conception of synaloephe is something like the Italian merging of vowels, the fact that two (and even three) vowels can take the place of one beat in poetry, e.g. La donna_è mobile, where a and è take up the space of exactly one note but both are clearly heard. I think most people would agree that's a fair approximation of the ancient practice; of course with the qualification that some weakly intoned vowels might be completely elided (perhaps in a word like atque). I quote Cat.51,14: otio exsultas nimiumque gestis, where you should be able to discern the case of otio despite the elision or synaloephe (I just realized the normal English spelling is synalepha), just like you should be able to grasp in the next line the case of otium: otium et reges prius et beatas / perdidit urbes. One might argue that the reader's search for syntactic coherence will lead to the obvious and true conclusion, but the respect of the written word and the no doubt careful pronunciation of a connoisseur in the first century BCE would force a differentiation between the synaloephe in the two quoted verses. Moreover, it would be most disturbing if there was a system with vowel merging that then failed to apply to nasalized vowels.

The problem I didn't at first read find addressed in Lindsay, or anywhere else, was the question of the nature of pronunciation of these merged nasal vowels. When Lindsay gives the example (p.62) finem onerat = /finewonerat/, I cant see any possibility of keeping that semi-consonantal glide and merging the syllables in question.

You will notice that I use the term synaloephe or synalepha instead of elision; If the time had not long passed my regular observation of bedtime, I would quote examples. I seem to recall this having been continually discussed in this forum a few years ago when I last frequented it, so it depends, would anyone be interested in a longer discussion of the subject (for what I'm worth, which might not be much)?
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:11 pm

timeodanaos wrote:...where a and è take up the space of exactly one note but both are clearly heard. I think most people would agree that's a fair approximation of the ancient practice; of course with the qualification that some weakly intoned vowels might be completely elided (perhaps in a word like atque).

Completely with you on that, timeodanaos, although my impression (maybe wrong) is that UK/US teachers go for complete elision,—I guess because it's just simpler to teach. (I don't teach Latin, though.)
Tecum adusquè concurro, timeodaneos. Videtur autem mihi, forsit perperám, magistros americanos regnique unitatis totam elisionem docere—quod facilius est sic facere, conjecto. (Ego autem latinum non doceo.)


timeodanaos wrote:When Lindsay gives the example (p.62) finem onerat = /finewonerat/, I cant see any possibility of keeping that semi-consonantal glide and merging the syllables in question.

I'm not joking but I think if you close your nose on w by scrunching your face you can get what he means.
Non jocor cum dico te quod eum dicere velit intelligere posse si w in dicendo per faciem astringendam tu nasum constringes.
Last edited by adrianus on Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby Sceptra Tenens » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:24 pm

There's not really much evidence at all about how harshly vowels were elided, is there? In the absence of evidence, one way would seem as good as the other, I should think.*

I personally completely elide short E, reduce U and I to light semivowels, and quickly glide from A and O. Not because I have any evidence for this system, but because it seems right to me personally.

*Of course, I speak without real authority on the topic.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby adrianus » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:34 pm

Sceptra Tenens wrote:I personally completely elide short E, reduce U and I to light semivowels, and quickly glide from A and O. Not because I have any evidence for this system, but because it seems right to me personally.

In this earlier thread I quoted a passage about something like this from the grammarians, I think. But you'd have to dig for it if you wanted it, and it might not be exactly what you're talking about.
http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8219
De hâ re, locum aptum apud grammaticos antiquos priore in filo jam citavi, nisi fallor. Opus sit eum quaerere si eo indiges. Sed audeas ne decepturus sis.

Post Scriptum

Ecce locum paenè aptum,sed alius aptior alibi exstat, ut credo. Mentem muto. Benè est quod quaero.
Here's a vaguely relevant thing but there's something more relevant, I think, elsewhere. No, this is probably what I was looking for.
De vitio hiato apud Quintilianum.
Quintilian, Institutiones, 9.4, 33-41, on the problem of hiatus and then on M (trans from the internet), wrote:33. To proceed methodically, in the first place, there are some faults so palpable that they incur the reprehension even of the illiterate, such as when two words come together to produce, by the union of the last syllable of the former with the first syllable of the latter, some offensive expression. In the next place, there is the clashing of vowels, for when this occurs, the phrases gape, open, dispart, and seem to labor. Long vowels, especially when they are the same, have the very worst of sound in conjunction, but the hiatus is most remarkable in such vowels as are pronounced with a round or wide opening of the mouth. [i.e., A, O, U]
34. "E" has a flatter and "I" a closer sound, and consequently any fault in the management of them is less perceptible. The speaker who puts short vowels after long ones will give less offense, and still less if he puts short ones before long ones; but the least offense of all is given by the concurrence of two short. In fact, whenever vowels follow vowels, the collision of them will be more or less harsh in proportion to whether the mode in which they are pronounced is more or less similar.
35. A hiatus of vowels, however, is not to be dreaded as any great crime, and indeed I do not know which is worse—too little or too much care in regard to it. The fear of it must necessarily be a restraint on an orator's efforts and divert his attention from points of more consequence. Just as it is a mark of carelessness to be constantly running into this fault, so it is a sign of littleness to be perpetually in dread of it. Not without reason, critics have considered all the followers of Isocrates, and especially Theopompus, to have felt too much solicitude as to this particular.
36. As for Demosthenes and Cicero, they paid it but moderate attention. Indeed, the amalgamation of two vowels, which is called synaloepha, may render a period smoother than it would be if every word retained its own vowel at the end. Sometimes, too, a hiatus is becoming and throws an air of grandeur over what is said, as, Pulchra oratione acta omnino jactare. Besides, syllables that are long in themselves and require a fuller pronunciation gain something from the time that intervenes between the two vowels, as if taking a rest.
37. On this point I shall quote, with the utmost respect, the words of Cicero: "The hiatus and concourse," he says, "of open vowels [i.e., A, O , U] has something soft in it, indicating a not unpleasing negligence, as if the speaker were more anxious about his matter than about his words."
But consonants, especially those of a harsher nature, also are liable to jar with one another in the connection of words, such as "S" at the end of a word with "X" at the commencement of the following, and the hissing is still more unpleasant if two of these consonants clash together, as Ars studiorum.
Quintiliani verba latinè (interreti), wrote:33.Atque ut ordinem sequar, primum sunt quae imperitis quoque ad reprehensionem notabilia videntur, id est, quae commissis inter se verbis duobus ex ultima [fine] prioris ac prima sequentis syllaba deforme aliquod nomen efficiunt. tum vocalium concursus: quod cum accidit, hiat et intersistit et quasi laborat oratio. Pessime longae, quae easdem inter se litteras committunt, sonabunt; praecipuus tamen erit hiatus earum quae cavo aut patulo maxime ore efferuntur.
34. E planior littera est, i angustior, ideoque obscurius in his vitium. Minus peccabit qui longis breves subiciet, et adhuc qui praeponet longae brevem. Minima est in duabus brevibus offensio. Atque cum aliae subiunguntur aliis, proinde asperiores aut leviores erunt prout oris habitu simili aut diverso pronuntiabuntur.
35. Non tamen id ut crimen ingens expavescendum est, ac nescio neglegentia in hoc an sollicitudo sit peior. Inhibeat enim necesse est hic Metus impetum dicendi et a potioribus avertat. Quare ut neglegentiae est pars hoc pati, ita humilitatis ubique perhorrescere, nimiosque non inmerito in hac cura putant omnis Isocraten secutos praecipueque Theopompum.
36. At Demosthenes et Cicero modice respexerunt ad hanc partem. Nam et coeuntes litterae, quae synaliphai dicuntur, etiam leviorem faciunt orationem quam si omnia verba suo fine cludantur, et nonnumquam hiulca etiam decent faciuntque ampliora quaedam, ut "pulchra oratione +acta oratio iactatae+", cum longae per se et velut opimae syllabae aliquid etiam medii temporis inter vocales quasi intersistatur adsumunt.
37. Qua de re utar Ciceronis potissimum verbis. "Habet" inquit "ille tamquam hiatus et concursus vocalium molle quiddam et quod indicet non ingratam neglegentiam de re hominis magis quam de verbis laborantis". Ceterum consonantes quoque, earumque praecipue quae sunt asperiores, in commissura verborum rixantur, ut s ultima cum x proxima, quarum tristior etiam si binae collidantur stridor est, ut "ars studiorum".
Last edited by adrianus on Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Elision of final vowel before word beginning with vowel

Postby timeodanaos » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:44 am

adrianus wrote:Completely with you on that, timeodanaos, although my impression (maybe wrong) is that UK/US teachers go for complete elision,—I guess because it's just simpler to teach. (I don't teach Latin, though.)

I myself have no impression of the Anglo-Saxon practice; but it my clear impression that Germans (as well as Scandinavians) go for the complete elision. I have on more than one occasion heard an Oxford professor recite Latin, Vergil as well as Horace, but I really can't recall his practice ... Is it easier to learn complete elision than merging of vowels? Hundreds of singers learn to merge their vowels in Italian every day at music conservatories, and when your scansion over time becomes second nature, it's even easier, I think, because your eyes don't have to be two syllables ahead of your voice. I haven't taught Latin metrics, but when the day comes, I will go for no ictus (to quote Bertil Axelsson: ictus fictus) and synalepha.

adrianus wrote:I'm not joking but I think if you close your nose on w by scrunching your face you can get what he means.

I know what you mean, and though it is what I normally do, I won't take up the challenge this particular minute, what would the other people at the office think of me? The problem is nasalizing in such a minimal interval of time. As I get more and more used to reading verses aloud, it is becoming less of a problem, however, and perhaps one day it will seem as natural to me as it might have Cicero.
In short, I revise my view on the matter and am almost convinced that it is possible to merge a nasalized vowel with an unnasalized one.

Desirable now are examples from modern languages exhibiting the same feature, preferably a Romance language. What about Portuguese?
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