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Postby ThomasGR » Sat May 10, 2008 7:57 am

Recently, I read somewhere, the ending m was only used to denote that -u was to be pronounced in a nasal way, with a heavy nuance of m. Can that be the case? Greeks rendered many that Latin words with –on. Are there other cases that some consonants or vowels were silent and only used to sign a special pronunciation of the previous / following vowel or consonant? I remember, here was once a discussion about gn that was actually like English ng, but most other European languages mistook it as gn.
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Re: -um

Postby benissimus » Sat May 10, 2008 8:58 am

On the matter of the final M, Roman grammarians did acknowledge that it was not a normal M, and Allen provides some quotes in Vox Latina (Priscian and Velius Longus, whom I cannot locate on the interwebs). Exactly what sound it made is open to some speculation, but the fact that words ending in M could be elided as if ending in a vowel and that final M was sometimes omitted in inscriptions suggests that final M was not quite a consonant. I'd speculate that neuters and accusatives in -um were represented -ον in Greek because that was the obvious analogous ending and corresponded with the final M that at least appeared in the written form.

I remember, here was once a discussion about gn that was actually like English ng, but most other European languages mistook it as gn.

Almost... it is believed that the N causes the preceding G to assimilate to a palatal nasal (Å‹), but the N is still pronounced following G. Thus, the sequence G-N is probably pronounced NG-N (Å‹n).

There are several other situations where certain consonants were used to represent unusual sounds, but some of those uses are distinct to early or later Latin. I really recommend buying Vox Latina if this sort of thing is interesting to you; it is somewhat expensive for a paperback, but still cheaper than most scholarly editions.
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Postby timeodanaos » Sat May 10, 2008 7:20 pm

The ablest analysis of the question pins down the phonetics of -m as a nasalized [w] in careful speech, which in poetry behaved like a final glide and in casual speech styles seems to have dropped altogether. In certain fossilized phrases the complete loss of m with elision of the preceding vowel was established even in careful speech: animadverto 'notice' (animum adverto or veneo 'go for sale' (venum eo).
Mytacism, then, seems to denote the mistake of pronouncing -m as an actual [m]; before a vowel, for the Roman ear, such an [m] had to belong to THE FOLLOWING WORD: so partem agis 'you play the part', if pronounced [partemagis[/i], could only be understood as parte magis 'in part rather'.


from Paragraph 237 of Sihler's New Comparative grammar of Greek and Latin.

Mytacism is a term used by some antique Roman scholars, presumably for the mispronunciation, as quoted.

What is important about the -m is that it is pronounced in clear speech (so Ciceros In Catilinam would have the nasal glide if said by Cicero himself, but perhaps not if his slave said it), but yet, it is dropped word-final in poetry, thus:

Qui potis est, inquis? Quod amantem iniuria talis (Catullus, 72)

the italizised letters are to be pronounced like a long in to make the verse fit to the dactylic hexameter.
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Re: -um

Postby ThomasGR » Sat May 10, 2008 9:10 pm

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Re: -um

Postby timeodanaos » Sat May 10, 2008 9:21 pm

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Postby nov ialiste » Sat May 10, 2008 10:09 pm

...
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun May 11, 2008 5:18 am

Final -m in Latin is a representation of the nasalization of the preceding vowel.

One might write "donũ" with a tilde over the 'u' meaning nasalization, instead of "donum," understanding that the final syllable is a nasalized "u," or "statĩ" for "statim," "puellã" for "puellam," "dicebã" for "dicebam," and so forth. This is why elision occurs through a final -m — because, in a sense, it's not really there. This is analagous to the final -e in the English word "fate" — this qualifying E serves the phonetic purpose to lengthen the preceding 'a'; but in effect; it's not really there.
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Postby ThomasGR » Sun May 11, 2008 6:50 pm

Till now, we have only examples of final m. I can imagine how strange educated orators sounded to the audiences with all their efforts to articulate all those final m in official speeches, though they would not do it in everyday conversations. In poems, they will write m, but do not pronounce it since it does not go with the iambic meter. Were there other (semi)silent letters?
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Postby adrianus » Sun May 11, 2008 6:50 pm

Lucus wrote:One might write "donũ" with a tilde over the 'u' meaning nasalization, instead of "donum,"
Lucus refers to the modern phonetic practice. In the past (especially the Middle Ages), the use of the tilde points just to the abbreviation and not to the sound. It's a coincidence that, for a word ending in "m" , the phonetic symbol today corresponds to what was once done by way of abbreviation.

Quod de "~" notâ dicit Lucus cuidam consuetudini modernae et phoneticae appertinet. Haec nota anteâ (scripturis maximè aevi medii) non ad sonoritatem sed ad abbreviationis significantem appertinet. Coincidentia est verbo in "m" litteram terminato ut consuetudo hodiè phonetica sit cuius olim abbreviatione factum erat similis.
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Postby timeodanaos » Sun May 11, 2008 9:58 pm

adrianus wrote:
Lucus wrote:One might write "donũ" with a tilde over the 'u' meaning nasalization, instead of "donum,"
Lucus refers to the modern phonetic practice. In the past (especially the Middle Ages), the use of the tilde points just to the abbreviation and not to the sound. It's a coincidence that, for a word ending in "m" , the phonetic symbol today corresponds to what was once done by way of abbreviation.

Quod de "~" notâ dicit Lucus cuidam consuetudini modernae et phoneticae appertinet. Haec nota anteâ (scripturis maximè aevi medii) non ad sonoritatem sed ad abbreviationis significantem appertinet. Coincidentia est verbo in "m" litteram terminato ut consuetudo hodiè phonetica sit cuius olim abbreviatione factum erat similis.
If Lucus was referring to my comment, I was talking about archaic inscriptions, where -m was more than often omitted, not medieval manuscripts.

It is, though, a funny coincidence that medieval practise points in the same direction as modern phonetic writing!
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Postby adrianus » Sun May 11, 2008 10:14 pm

timeodanaos wrote:It is, though, a funny coincidence that medieval practise points in the same direction as modern phonetic writing!
True enough, Timeodanaos, but a coincidence nonetheless, I believe, because the use of the tilde was arbitrary, whether at the end of a word or in its middle, where the "m" was certainly fully sounded. And the tilde was only one abbreviation among many others which don't trigger thoughts about odd, modern-day phonetic coincidences. You could always hypothesize that the medieval practice with the tilde at least arose out of an earlier phonetic practice, even if it was used otherwise, but how to test that?

Rectè dicis, Timeodanaos. Coincidentia attamen, ut credo, quod arbitrarius usus huius notae ("~"), utrum in fine an in medio verbi ubi "m" littera clarè sonatur. Certè enumeratur titulus cum multis aliis notis quae de concidentiis recentum dierum phoeneticis cogitare non facunt. Fortasse putare tibi licet ut titulo usus aevi medii e modo prisco oritus est (etsi aliter significatur), at quomodò istud verificare?
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Postby timeodanaos » Sun May 11, 2008 10:41 pm

One way would be to pick up the phone and give Charlemagne a ring, but I'm not sure he'd answer.


I'm not saying medieval manuscrips editors knew about ancient practise and copied it. I'm just in awe. The tilde instead of final -m was the first thing I ever learned about medieval Latin ortography, and the omission of final -m was one of the first things I learned about archaic inscriptions, after -us = -os.
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Postby adrianus » Sun May 11, 2008 11:11 pm

timeodanaos wrote:One way would be to pick up the phone and give Charlemagne a ring, but I'm not sure he'd answer.
Do you have his number? I thought it had been discontinued.
Habesne numerum? Non iam in usu eum putavi.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Mon May 12, 2008 2:39 pm

ThomasGR wrote:Till now, we have only examples of final m. I can imagine how strange educated orators sounded to the audiences with all their efforts to articulate all those final m in official speeches, though they would not do it in everyday conversations. In poems, they will write m, but do not pronounce it since it does not go with the iambic meter. Were there other (semi)silent letters?


Where is it written that the "educated orators," as you say, care Thoma, made such an effort to pronounce the final -m? It seems unnecessary that they should do so from my perspective.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Mon May 12, 2008 2:40 pm

adrianus wrote:
Lucus wrote:One might write "donũ" with a tilde over the 'u' meaning nasalization, instead of "donum,"
Lucus refers to the modern phonetic practice. In the past (especially the Middle Ages), the use of the tilde points just to the abbreviation and not to the sound. It's a coincidence that, for a word ending in "m" , the phonetic symbol today corresponds to what was once done by way of abbreviation.

Quod de "~" notâ dicit Lucus cuidam consuetudini modernae et phoneticae appertinet. Haec nota anteâ (scripturis maximè aevi medii) non ad sonoritatem sed ad abbreviationis significantem appertinet. Coincidentia est verbo in "m" litteram terminato ut consuetudo hodiè phonetica sit cuius olim abbreviatione factum erat similis.


Good point!
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Postby ThomasGR » Mon May 12, 2008 5:11 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Where is it written that the "educated orators," as you say, care Thoma, made such an effort to pronounce the final -m? It seems unnecessary that they should do so from my perspective.

It is my conclusion, from what Benissimus, Timeodanaos and you, Lucus, wrote. Benissimus says there was a sound, but no one seems to know exactly how it sounded, Timeodanaos says only the educated would pronounce it, and last, your post. I made also a parallel with the Greek world, where from very old times educated people spoke in a strange, the "educated" way. We may watch it even in our days how the higher clergy speaks and handles the Greek language.
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Postby timeodanaos » Mon May 12, 2008 5:33 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:
ThomasGR wrote:Till now, we have only examples of final m. I can imagine how strange educated orators sounded to the audiences with all their efforts to articulate all those final m in official speeches, though they would not do it in everyday conversations. In poems, they will write m, but do not pronounce it since it does not go with the iambic meter. Were there other (semi)silent letters?


Where is it written that the "educated orators," as you say, care Thoma, made such an effort to pronounce the final -m? It seems unnecessary that they should do so from my perspective.
Quintilian 9,4,40:


On the other hand, wherever this same letter m comes at the end of a word and is brought into contact with the opening vowel of the next word in such a manner as to render coalescence possible, it is, although written, so faintly pronounced (e.g. in phrases such as multum ille and quantum erat) that it may almost be regarded as producing the sound of a new letter.316 For it is not elided, but merely obscured, and may be considered as a symbol occurring between two vowels simply to prevent their coalescence.

(source: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... ml#note316)





Priscian:

m obscurum in extremitate dictionum sonat, ut templum, apertum in principio, ut magnus, mediocre in mediis, ut umbra



Velius Longius:

nam quibusdam litteris deficimus, quas tamen
sonus enuntiationis arcessit, ut cum dicimus virtutem et virum fortem consulem
Scipionem, pervenisse fere ad aures peregrinam litteram invenies



Another thing, stressed one-syllable words ending in -m in Latin have become -n in romance languages: Thus, 'rem' > French 'rien', 'tuum' > French 'ton'.


And therefore, I believe final -m to have been pronounced in some way, probably nazalised.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Mon May 12, 2008 6:40 pm

ThomasGR wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:Where is it written that the "educated orators," as you say, care Thoma, made such an effort to pronounce the final -m? It seems unnecessary that they should do so from my perspective.

It is my conclusion, from what Benissimus, Timeodanaos and you, Lucus, wrote. Benissimus says there was a sound, but no one seems to know exactly how it sounded, Timeodanaos says only the educated would pronounce it, and last, your post. I made also a parallel with the Greek world, where from very old times educated people spoke in a strange, the "educated" way. We may watch it even in our days how the higher clergy speaks and handles the Greek language.


I know precisely how final -m sounded and sounds (meaning a range of sounds all legitimate within the definition of the element) in ancient Latin and modern Latin with the Classical pronunciation. I have described it: nasalization of the preceding vowel; the final -m is not fully closed (as is the final -m in English "ram"). We have the Portuguese word "senão," and that "ã" is much like the final syllable of the Latin word "puellam."

This description is taken directly from the Roman grammarians, and is easily replicated in the mouth of the modern speaker to produce a Classically accurate sound.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Mon May 12, 2008 6:44 pm

timeodanaos wrote:Another thing, stressed one-syllable words ending in -m in Latin have become -n in romance languages: Thus, 'rem' > French 'rien', 'tuum' > French 'ton'.


"tuum" has two syllables, so you may like to alter your definition some — still, your observation is keen.
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Postby benissimus » Mon May 12, 2008 8:07 pm

ThomasGR wrote:Benissimus says there was a sound, but no one seems to know exactly how it sounded

To make myself clearer, as it seems I forgot to include a very important piece of information about final M in my initial reply: there is good evidence in the Latin language, in its written forms, and in its derivative languages that an M at the end of a word (and sometimes at the end of a syllable) produced nasalization of the preceding vowel. However, I do not see how one can "precisely know how final -m sounded... in ancient Latin" based on the statements of the Latin grammarians. I also am not aware of evidence that final M was more or less enunciated in certain contexts. The only thing we know for sure from the Romans, if we are to trust grammarians, is that the sound is much unlike the normal letter M and has no separate letter of its own.

We can be, to a great extent, sure that the vowel before final M was nasalized, based on these facts:

1. in word-final position the sound of M was "barely audible" (fere ad aures), also testified in its omission in some inscriptions
2. the M sounds different at the end of a word (obscurum in extremitate... sonat)
3. the vowel before M could be elided as if there were no consonant following
4. M itself is a nasal consonant, which have been known in other languages to produce assimilation of nearby vowels
5. certain peculiarities in the forms of Romance languages suggest a nasalized vowel in place of a former vowel-m series

Based on this, I feel, we can be very sure of our theory of final M, and I would certainly encourage this system of pronunciation, but I don't think we can be absolutely sure without a short leap of faith.
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Postby Amadeus » Mon May 12, 2008 8:29 pm

timeodanaos wrote:And therefore, I believe final -m to have been pronounced in some way, probably nazalised.


But what kind of a nasal would that final "m" be? (Our modern "m" is a bilabial nasal.)

Edit: Oh, never mind, I just read Benissimus' last post.
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.
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Postby timeodanaos » Mon May 12, 2008 8:36 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:
timeodanaos wrote:Another thing, stressed one-syllable words ending in -m in Latin have become -n in romance languages: Thus, 'rem' > French 'rien', 'tuum' > French 'ton'.


"tuum" has two syllables, so you may like to alter your definition some — still, your observation is keen.
I'm afraid I didn't cite my sources well enough - This particular observation is from Max Niedermann's 'Historische Lautlehre des Lateinischen', Heidelberg 1951. 'tuum' is cited as having only one syllable in vulgar Latin in that book. He might also have the need to alter the definition, afterall, older historical grammars tend to be less than perfect.
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Postby timeodanaos » Mon May 12, 2008 8:38 pm

One thing off-topic:


How I feel at home a place where a discussion of final -m can fill pages! O quam mihi placet illud!
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 12:04 am

All your points are great, Benissius, although I think your first two points come to the same thing. Your fourth point, though, is very significant indeed. It's worth listening again to Lord on this.
Ut mihi videtur, Benissime, quod primo et secundo dicis eòdem redit. Quod quarto dicis autem multum quidem significat. Verba Lord etiam audiamus ubi dicit:
Lord, The Roman Pronunciation of Latin, wrote:The M was not, however, entirely ignored. Thus Quintilian says:
[Quint, IX. iv. 40.] Atqui eadem illa littera, quotiens ultima est et vocalem verbi sequentis ita contingit ut in eam transire possit,
etiamsi scribitur tamen parum exprimitur, ut "multum ille" et "quantum erat"; adeo ut paene cujusdam novae litterae sonum reddat. Neque enim eximitur, sed obscuratur, et tantum aliqua inter duas vocales velut nota est, ne ipsae coeant.

It is a significant fact in this connection that M is the only one of the liquids (semivowels) that does not allow a long vowel before it.
Priscian, mentioning several peculiarities of this semivowel, thus speaks of this one:
[Priscian. Keil. v. II. p. 23.] Nunquam tamen eadem M ante se natura longam (vocalem) patitur in eadem syllaba esse, ut "illam", "artem",
"puppim", "illum", "rem", "spem", "diem", cum aliae omnes semivocales hoc habent, ut "Maecenas", "Paean", "sol", "pax", "par".

That the M was really sounded we may infer from Pompeius (on Donatus) where, treating of "myotacism", he calls it the careless pronunciation of M between two vowels (at the end of one word and the beginning of another), the running of the words together in such a way that M seems to begin the second, rather than to end the first:
[Keil. v. V. p. 287.] Ut si dices "hominem amicum", "oratorem optimum". Non enim videris dicere "hominem amicum", sed "homine mamicum", quod est incongruum et inconsonans. Similiter "oratorem optimum" videris "oratore moptimum".
He also warns against the vice of dropping the M altogether. One must neither say "homine mamicum", nor "homine amicum":
Plerumque enim aut suspensione pronuntiatur aut exclusione.... Nos quid sequi debemus? Quid? per suspensionem tantum modo. Qua ratione? Quia si dixeris per suspensionem "homimem amicum", et haec vitium vitabis, "myotacismum", et non cades in aliud vitium, id est in hiatum.
From such passages it would seem that the final syllable ending in M is to be lightly and rapidly pronounced, the M not to be run over upon the following word.Some hint of the sound may perhaps be got from the Englishman's pronunciation of such words as Birmingham (Birminghm), Sydenham (Sydenhm), Blenheim (Blenhm).

I think that "m" is a very special consonant. It is by its nature nasalized (as you say) and, not only that, but, used in beginning a word and in ending a word, the mouth remains shut while pronouncing it. Isn't it the only letter to end a word with the mouth tightly closed? That limits the volume that an "m" can receive in normal speech at the end of a word, and remember it can't have a long vowel before it (as Priscian says), so the final syllable is always disposed of quickly. Many people have the habit of making the final syllable longer by lengthening the "m", by humming it, but if they pronounce a final "m" with due care to the syllable length (short), the letter "m" by its very nature almost disappears at the end. So I think Lord is absolutely right when he says, "the final syllable ending in M is to be lightly and rapidly pronounced". You don't even need to think about Portuguese, or French, or Italian habits. Whatever your language, a final "m" will always be "nasal" and "obscure", as long as you make the letter short (as it should be), and pronounce with the mouth closed. (I suspect some may imagine it pronounced at the end with mouth open, --as may indeed have happened in time as Latin evolved into Romance languages.)
"M" litteram, puto, consonantem naturâ peculiarem esse, quià nonsolum naso pronuntiatur (ut dicis) sed etiam os clausum manet dum "m" sonitur. Nonne littera sola quae sic facit? Eo modo, loquellâ naturale, vis eius artatur. Memini, quoque, "m" ante se vocalem longam nunquam habere (apud Priscianum), ergo semper syllaba cum "m" in extremitate dictionis naturâ est brevis (etsi apud poetas positione longa). Multi autem syllabam extremam longam facere solent, qui bombilantes "m" prolatant. Qui tempori (brevi) syllabae cum "m" terminantis curam dabis, "m" sonum ferè abire facias et haec res sine conatu. Rectè itaque dicit Lord, breviter et leviter syllabam extremam in "m" terminantem sonari oportet. Modis loquendi quoque Lusorum, Gallicorum, Italicorum abditis, utcumque linguâ tuâ, "m" in extremitate dictionis semper obscurum et nasale erit si litteram citò sonabis, et ore clauso. (Suspicor nonnullos esse qui eum pronuntiare velint ore aperto, --ut tempore quidem factum sit, linguâ latinâ in linguis romanicis mutanti.)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 2:34 am

You must add, though, Adriane, that also in the Classical period the final -m was not fully closed. This is important. It defines its character, in the manner I described above.

Also, the syllable with a final -m is always long, while the vowel itself is left "short" — but that's really just a technicality, since the whole syllable IS the nasalized vowel (the -m, as I mentioned, is less there than not there).

Moreover, you must account for the elision thru the -m. Such blending is only possible with vowels, pure or nasalized.
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 1:48 pm

Here are fuller quotes from Keil, expanding Allen's Vox Latina quotes on M, together with a lovely bit I found by Servius on M. Although Servius is 4th century, I think he's very interesting on the choices that were open to you in pronouncing terminal M before a word starting with a vowel, together with their advantages and disadvantages. You could drop the terminal M in speech or not, but not if you ended up with two vowels the same colliding. I can't find the evidence for an open-lipped M as opposed to an closed-lipped M, other than the easy substitution of N for M. By that I mean, if N is written for M you can understand an open-lipped nasal sound may be meant (and was meant: "tan durum" for "tam durum" and Longus says "'etiam nunc' plenius per n quam per m enuntiatur"), but where an M is used you cannot. To make things even more complicated, if you read what Longus says about using half an m to describe this sound, you realize that N need not be an open-lipped N sound at all but a closed-lipped half-an-M sound!!! I don't know how you can say you know for certain, Lucus, about these sounds, although you're much closer to Allen on this than I am and I am without experience on this. It's interesting, I think, that elision in verse is treated as a special case by Priscian, separate from talking, as well as drawing attention to early cases of no elision with terminal M in verse. [No point my trying to express this in Latin since it just unpacks the Latin quotes below. Also, you know I'm discussing this only to test the evidence and not because I know I'm right. If anything, it's more likely I'm wrong but it's more fun to learn through dispute, I reckon, when I have so little pride to lose.]
Velius Longus, Liber De Orthographia, K, vii, p.54, wrote:Ingredienti mihi rationem scribendi occurrit statim ita quosdam censuisse esse scribendum, ut loquimur et audimus, nam ita sane se habet non numquam forma enuntiandi, sic enim cum dicitur, 'illum ego' et 'omnium optimum', illum et omnium aeque m terminat nectamen in enuntiatione apparet.

Velius Longus, Liber De Orthographia, K, vii, p.80, wrote:Non nulli circa synaliphas quoque observandam talem scriptionem existimaverunt, sicut Verrius Flaccus, ut, ubicumque prima vox m littera finiretur, sequens a vocali inciperet, m non tota, sed pars illius prior tantum scriberetur, ut appareret exprimi non debere.

Priscian, K, vii, pp.29,30, wrote:M obscurum in extremitate dictionum sonat, ut 'templum', apertum in principio, ut 'magnus', mediocre in mediis, ut 'umbra'. Transit in n, et maxime d vel c vel t vel q sequentibus, ut 'tantum tantundem', 'idem identidem', 'eorum eorundem', 'num nuncibi' et, ut Pinio placet, 'nunquis', 'nunquam', 'anceps' pro 'amceps', 'am' enim praepositio f vel c vel q sequentibus in n mutat m" 'anfractus', 'ancisus', 'anquiro', vocali vero sequente intercipit b: 'ambitus', 'ambesus', 'ambustus', 'ambages', nec non etiam in 'comburo combustus' idem fit. Finalis dictionis subtrahitur m in metro plerumque, si a vocaliu incipit sequens dictio, ut:
Illum expirantem transfixo pectore flammas,
vetustissimi tamen non semper eam subtrahebant; Ennius in X annalium:
Insigneita fere tum milia militum octo
Duxit dilectos bellum tolerare potentes.

Marius Servius Honoratus, Commentarius in Artem Donati. K iv, p.445 (De Barbarismo), wrote:Myotacismus fit, quotiens post postem orationis in m littera desinentem sequitur alia pars orationis quae inchoat a vocali, ut 'hominem amicum' hoc vitium vitare possumus aut per suspensionem pronuntiandi aut exclusione ipsius m litterae. Sed melius est ut suspensione pronuntiandi hoc vitium reliquamus. Si enim voluerimus m litteram excludere, vitiamus quidem myotacismum, sed cadimus in hiatim. Hiatus autem est, quando vocalis vocalem sequitur in duabus partibus orationis, ut 'Musa amavit' . Quod foedius est, si eaedem vocales se sequantur; ceterum si aliae, levius videtur, ut 'Musa optimum'.
P.S.
Lucus wrote:Also, the syllable with a final -m is always long, while the vowel itself is left "short" — but that's really just a technicality, since the whole syllable IS the nasalized vowel (the -m, as I mentioned, is less there than not there)
With you on that, except I believe in the option of "lips shut" at the end, modifying the nasalized vowel sound into the hint on an M (in those cases where the M isn't dropped altogether). [Timeodanaos cito: "O quam mihi placet illud!"]
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 2:16 pm

if N is written for M you can understand an open-lipped nasal sound may be meant (and was meant: "tan durum" for "tam durum" and Longus says "'etiam nunc' plenius per n quam per m enuntiatur")


Definitely not so. This is sandhi (Sk. "joining") — where there is alteration of word final sounds to conform to the sound of the word that follows. Elision is an aspect of sandhi, and so is the transition of -m to -n. Because of the relative weakness of final -m, and its generality as a nasal vowel with littel articulation, it could be transmutated into any appropriate nasal in front of any consonant.

Remember the various classes of Latin consonants:
velars: C, G
dentals: T, D
- glide: L, R
sibilant: S
fricative: F
labial: P, B
- glide: V

Let's use the preposition "cum" because it can come in front of anything.

We write:
cum curru

But really these sound as one "joined" word:
cuncurru [that 'n' is the velar nasal, the same at the end of the word "sing"]

Equally, we write:
cum Gallo

But we sound:
cungallo

This sandhi is a very natural aspect of all languages — English does it, Italian, Russian, you name it.

We write:
cum Tito

But we sound:
cuntito [here the 'n' is the dental nasal]

We write:
cum dentibus

But we sound:
cundentibus

We write:
cum patre

But we sound:
cumpatre [the 'm' is full and true, or at least more so]

It's likely that, even in these sandhis, some element of the natural nasal-vowel quality of the -m remains, even though it's not "left hanging," so to speak, as it would be at the end of a sentence, conforming naturally to the consonant that follows. Hence "tan durum."


Heh, you're right about, "how can I know for certain," and I meant to put a parenthetical caveat next to that "I know precisely..." phrase of mine from above but there already was a parethetical caveat in that sentence. So I'll say again more fully:

I know precisiely (as precisely as one can know anything from historical texts alone) how the -m was pronounced and is pronounced; for there is a range of possibilities, and this range fits by definition the definition handed down to us by the grammarians. This range has possibilities that are all mutually inclusive, and none of them mutually exclusive, meaning that they all are legitimate and "correct." Moreover, this range of possibilities for the -m is fairly small, although there are a few variations of interpretation, and variations thru time.

Simply: if one follows the 'rule's from the various grammarians, one sounds the -m correctly, every time; not every hodiern -m will sound the same between our different mouths, but likely not every final -m sounded the same among ancient Roman contemporaries either — there is a range of possibile variation. Just as there is for trilled 'r's (compare the different and slight variants between 'r's among the Italian dialects, or the difference between Italian and Spanish 'r', which from an English perspective is non exsistent, yet from within one of these languages variations in the sound are noticeable). There is also a range of environment, which I discussed above a bit, and a range of timings. Still, just follow the rules, and you get a very consisent and natural sound that makes sense.
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 2:49 pm

I forgot to give the fuller version of the Pompeius quote in Lord, from earlier. I'll try to take in what you say shortly, Luce, but this relates to what you're talking about, although I don't think it supports it.
Pompeius, Commentum Artis Donati, K, v, p.287, wrote:Myotacismus est, quotiens inter duas vocales m positum exprimitur, ut si dicas 'hominem amicum', 'oratorem optimum'. Non enim videris dicere 'hominem amicum', sed homine mamicum, quod est incongruum et inconsonans. Similiter 'oratorem optimum', videris dicere 'oratore moptimum'. Bonam rationem dixit Melissus, quo modo vitandum est hoc vitium, ne incurramus in aliud vitium. Plerumque enim aut suspensione pronuntiatur aut exclusione: suspensione pronuntiatur, si dicas 'hominem amicum', [interponas aliquid puta] 'oratorem optimum'; aut certe, si velis excludere, 'homine amicum', 'oratore optimum'. Nos quid sequi debemus? Quid? Per suspensionem tantum modo. Qua ratione? Quia si dixeris per suspensionem 'hominem amicum', et hoc vitium vitabis, myotacismum, et non cades in aliud vitium, id est in hiatum. Nam si volueris dicere 'homine amicum', vitas quidem myotacismum, non tamen vitas hiatum. Nam hiatus est, quando vocalem alia vocalis sequitur, id est quotiens post vocalem altera vocalis sequitur. Tunc gravius tamen hoc fit vitium, si eadem vocalis sequatur. Puta 'Musa amavit' peius est, quam 'Musa habuit', 'Musa edocuit'. Ergo hiatus est, quotiens vocalem altera vocalis sequitur. Quare si illud vitare debemus, ne in eandem vocalem cadat, melius est vitetur.
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 3:41 pm

Luce care amice,
Dixi "If N is written for M you can understand an open-lipped nasal sound"
Dixisti: "Definitely not so"

Dicis: "cuncurru [that 'n' is the velar nasal, the same at the end of the word "sing"] "
Rogo: "Is that velar nasal 'n' not pronounced with the lips open?" /Nonne labris apertis (laxis) 'n' velare nasale/velarnasale (?) pronuntiatur?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 4:39 pm

adrianus wrote:Luce care amice,
Dixi "If N is written for M you can understand an open-lipped nasal sound"
Dixisti: "Definitely not so"

Dicis: "cuncurru [that 'n' is the velar nasal, the same at the end of the word "sing"] "
Rogo: "Is that velar nasal 'n' not pronounced with the lips open?" /Nonne labris apertis (laxis) 'n' velare nasale/velarnasale (?) pronuntiatur?


Yes, the lips are open for ALL vowels and consonants produced by the mouth (minus true 'm'), velar 'n' no exception — only fully closed 'm' is unique in that the lips are closed.

A velar 'n' with lips inherently open cannot justify the description of not-fully-closed-Latin-final-'m' any more than 't' or 'r' fits the description.
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Postby Amadeus » Tue May 13, 2008 4:56 pm

Image

Gotta love this forum!
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 6:01 pm

So why do you say "Definitely not so" above, Lucus? Quâ ratione, Luce, isthuc suprâ igitur dicis?
Ah, I think I see. Video, ut credo.
Lucus wrote: velar 'n' with lips inherently open cannot justify the description of not-fully-closed-Latin-final-'m' any more than 't' or 'r' fits the description.
But I didn't say that. Illud non dixi.

I have given above direct evidence from the grammarians of a final M before a word beginning with a vowel sounding like an initial M, to the extent that, unless one is careful, the problem of myotacismus in speech arises. Several grammarians recommend more careful pronunciation and explicitly recommend suspension of sound between the words (the opposite of 'sanhi'). They recommend this over and above exclusion of the M, because of the problems with elision this can lead to (--it's harder to understand quickly what's said, unless the context is clear), but exclusion is still a valid option in most cases (except when identical vowels collide). If the final M had an open-lipped nasal N sound as opposed to a closed-lip nasal M sound, the problem of myotacismus would not arise.

Argumenta grammaticorum suprâ dedi, quae M in extremitate dictionis litterae M in principio similiter sonare suggerunt. Et eo modo, nisi curam dabis, myotacismum vitium habebis. A pluribus grammaticorum accuratiùs enuntiare commendatur. Ne minimâ quidem, coactè suspendere vel stigare inter dictiones commendant. Melius quam M excludere dicunt ut synaliphes vitios elisionis devitentur. Si M in extremitate sonum nasalis N litterae habeat quae labiis apertis factiatur (et non M litterae labiis apertis), myotacismum vitium accidere non possit.
Last edited by adrianus on Tue May 13, 2008 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 7:07 pm

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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 7:14 pm

adrianus wrote:I have given above direct evidence from the grammarians of a final M before a word beginning with a vowel sounding like an initial M, to the extent that, unless one is careful, the problem of myotacismus in speech arises. Several grammarians recommend more careful pronunciation and explicitly recommend suspension of sound between the words (the opposite of 'sanhi'). They recommend this over and above exclusion of the M, because of the problems with elision this can lead to (--it's harder to understand quickly what's said, unless the context is clear), but exclusion is still a valid option in most cases (except when identical vowels collide). If the final M had an open-lipped nasal N sound as opposed to a closed-lip nasal M sound, the problem of myotacismus would not arise.


The direct evidence you give is from 5th century grammarians very far away from the Classical Latin of Catullus and Vergil. Foreigners had come to speak the language, and would incorrectly read the final letter -m as a full 'm', producing these problems. Meanwhile, native Romans would come to drop the -m since it was barely ever there anyway.

Note also that in the Pompeius quote you made above he says that both full pronunciation of the -m and also the hiatus created by its exclusion are "vices." He says that "suspension," that is the maintaining of a full 'm' is a preferable vice to complete absence. Pompeius is suggesting a hypercorrection, and is incorrect, especially since we understand the third-century nature of Latin from the L. Corn. Scipio epitaph, and the elision thru 'm' in Classical Latin.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 7:36 pm

Amadeus wrote:Image

Gotta love this forum!


Awesome, by the way; glad you guys are enjoying. ;)
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 7:52 pm

Lucus wrote:I know precisiely (as precisely as one can know anything from historical texts alone) how the -m was pronounced and is pronounced...Simply: if one follows the 'rule's from the various grammarians...[alibi] This description is taken directly from the Roman grammarians...
When you said those things, I imagined you were working from primary sources. I understand now that you are repeating what Allen says. I have read Allen, too. I just prefer the primary sources. Maybe Allen is right, though. I just find some of the sources capable of sustaining a broader interpretation.

Ratione, Luce, verborum tuorum suprâ citandorum, te fontes primarios legisse putavi. Nunc te video verba auctoris Allen repetere. Ego quoque opus "Vox Latina" legi. Verumtamen authentica praefero. Fortasse autem rectè dicit Allen. Adqui ut scripta grammaticorum interpretationes latiores gerere possint me tenet.
Lucus wrote:Note also that in the Pompeius quote you made above he says that both full pronunciation of the -m and also the hiatus created by its exclusion are "vices."
Are you sure you aren't mistranslating the Pompeius there, Lucus? He says suspension/halting is better than exclusion/letter-dropping because it avoids both the problem of myotacismus and the problem of hiatus, whereas letter-dropping avoids only the first.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue May 13, 2008 9:28 pm

"Halting"? What is this?
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Postby adrianus » Tue May 13, 2008 10:57 pm

Suspensio/suspension both in Latin and English, as well as to a state of hanging or elevation or arching, refers to a stay, stop, halt, interruption. By taking care to pronounce the words "hominem amicum" as separate, a tiny notional gap has been introduced, caused by the silence of the completed closed-lip M in "hominem" before the start of the vowel beginning "amicum". I think that is Keil's note, "interponas aliquid puta" or "for example you interpose something", but that isn't inconsistent with that idea of a tiny gap to preserve the word distinctions. Interposing a less problematic word is what Consentius recommends to avoid myotacismus:
Consentius. Ars de Nomine et Verbo, de Barbarismis et Metaplasmis. K, v, p.394, wrote:Mystacismum dicunt, cum in dictione aliquid sic incuriose ponitur vocali sequente m litteram, ut, an ad priorem pertineat an ad sequentem, incertum sit, sicut plerumque passim loquuntur 'dixeram illis', 'speciem aceti', 'faciem Aiacis',huius vitii remedium est primum, ut, quoties sic sonat, pars orationis aliqua interponatur non a vocali incipiens, ut si haec ipsa emendare velimus, 'dixeram tunc illis', 'speciem boni aceti', 'faciem furentis Aiacis'.
Either way, reading suspensio as an arch or as a stop or gap or halt (the silence of the closed-lip M once done) amounts to the same thing. 'Hominem amicum' has a closed-lip M in Pompeius and the words are distinct.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed May 14, 2008 3:21 am

adrianus wrote:Suspensio/suspension both in Latin and English, as well as to a state of hanging or elevation or arching, refers to a stay, stop, halt, interruption.


Not so. There is no "halting" of any kind in "suspensio;" there is only the permission of the final -m to begin the next word. "Suspensio" means "support," the maintaining of the -m as written as if it were a word-initial 'm'. "Halting" is what hiatus is, a cut in the flow, a "gap," and is contrary then to what you were referring to. I suggest leaving go the term "halting" since it is confusing for these reasons.


Back to the matter at hand:

What precisely is "myotacismus," I ask myself, because it is not clearly defined. Is it the same as the nasalized vowel description that I have above provided, and also according to Allen? the grammatical name for the phrase-final -m?

And the fact that Pompeius and Donatus, both 5th century and very late, insist on the need for hiatus, as the only recourse, is troubling. It means that they are so hypercorrected that they are not even comfortable with the natural blending and elision of vowels we would exspect between "homine amicum," a blending that is so natural between vowels in Italian, Spanish, and others, and essential to the metres of the Classical Latin four hundred years prior to the time of Pompeius and Donatus.
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Postby adrianus » Wed May 14, 2008 11:06 am

Lucus wrote:There is no "halting" of any kind in "suspensio;" there is only the permission of the final -m to begin the next word.
Not so (to borrow a phrase). Suspensio does not give permission to M to start the next word. That is the problem it is introduced to correct. Suspensio is the articulation of the phrase so it is audibly clear that M belongs to the end of the first word and not to the beginning of the second word (Servius says "suspensione pronuntiandi"). I don't have to worry about what I call it if you are confused by my saying "halting". In the grammatical terms of the ancients, uncompounded words are generally understood to have gaps between them (elision aside) and that has nothing to do with 'hiatus vitium'. Let's just leave it as suspensio.

Minimè (ut dicere soles). Ut M dictionis in principio sequentis veniat, suspensio non permitto. Illud verum vitium est quod suspensione corrigere quaesitur. Suspensio articulatio loquendi est quae clarum facit M ad finem dictionis primi et non ad principio secundi attingere. Ut "halting" dictione uti tibi displicet, rei curam depono. Apud grammaticos antiquos, interstitia inter verba non composita sunt (separatim synaloephe vel elisio). Suspensionem latinè dicamus.

Lucus wrote:What precisely is "myotacismus," I ask myself, because it is not clearly defined.
I don't see how the grammarians could express it more clearly. It seems pretty clear to me. Myotacismus is the careless shifting of the M from the end of one word to the start of the next if it starts with a vowel. So "hominem amicum" is read as "homine mamicum". Do you not hear a difference when you don't speak carelessly?

Clarum mihi est, quià benè grammatici sese enuntiant. Apud Consentium, "Myotacismum dicunt, cum in dictione aliquid sic incuriose ponitur vocali sequente m litteram, ut, an ad priorem pertineat an ad sequentem..." Nisi incuriosè loquaris, nonne "homine mamicum" et "hominem amicum" dicendi differentiam audis?

Lucus wrote:And the fact that Pompeius and Donatus, both 5th century and very late, insist on the need for hiatus, as the only recourse, is troubling.
I'm troubled here, too, because in the quotes above "hiatus" is used as a technical term for the problem to avoid. I think you're mistranslating again. Pompeius and Servius (after Donatus) recommend "suspensio", which as I pointed out carries the meaning of halt or gap. Now you seem actually to be agreeing when you use the word "hiatus" for "suspensio". The grammarians, though, use "interstitium" and not "hiatus" for "gap between words", I believe. Pompeius and Servius (after Donatus) recommend suspensio as best to overcome the problems of myotacismus and of hiatus. (Pompeius's reference to Melissus is to the reasoning strategy: a solution only works if it doesn't cause another problem.) So what then is the problem of hiatus expressed here? I believe I know but give me time to gather the evidence.

Non minùs, quod dicis me mordet, quià describunt Pompeius Serviusque (de Donato) hiatum ut vitium. Iterum te malè traducere puto. Interstitium et non hiatus verbum rectum grammaticè est, ut credo. Ut Pompeius Serviusque (de Donato) suspensionem commendant, quae verbum sensum interstitium habes, ut dixi. Nunc te mecum congruere videris ubi "hiatus" pro suspensione opinaris (nisi corruptè "hiatus" pro "interstitium" ponis). Pompeius Serviusque (de Donato) suspensionem commendant ut vitia myotacismum et hiatum convincat. (Nota Pompei ad Melissum referens de ratiocinandi modo qui sequitur pertinet: non est solutio quae vitium novum addet.) Quid est ergo vitium hiatus? Ut intellego credo, at tempus oportet ut argumenta gregem.
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