Even though the earlier Latin meters were stress-based, their language at least had the phonemic structure that would make either metrical scheme possible. (
So, for instance, the "short a" in "bag" is actually longer than the "long a" in "bake."
it still takes longer to pronounce "breed than bred"
I think the answer to the question is that syllable-length just doesn't "stick out" enough in English to have importance, at least not anymore.
vir litterarum wrote:why can it not even gain a foothold in English verse?
vir litterarum wrote:So are you arguing that the stress accent of Latin is qualitatively different from that of English?
Damoetas wrote:It's not so much that the stress accent of Latin was qualitatively different from that of English (although it may have been). The main point is that vowel length in Latin was fundamentally different from what we call length in English. In Latin, a long vowel was always pronounced twice as long as the corresponding short vowel, regardless of the position in the word or whether it was stressed or not. That was the only difference in the sound of the two vowels.
modus.irrealis wrote:It doesn't effect your point but there are many (Allen in Vox Latina e.g.) who reconstruct differences in quality between the long and short versions of all vowels but a, with the short vowels being more open and the long vowels more close.
modus.irrealis wrote:Another difference that may or may not be connected is that English does not have geminate consonants (except across morpheme boundaries). It seems to me that languages where quantitative verse is well-established do, and I can't find any counterexamples. This might be related to the issue of syllables that are long by position (which I can't imagine comes down to actual length -- how can et take longer to say than stre?). Since both have to do with syllabification, they might be related, and I do know that I have as much problems with double consonants as I do quantitative verse.
Whatever Latin stress sounded like, it must have been comparatively weak in the classical period; and that is why it was natural for them to base their meters on quantity instead of stress
vir litterarum wrote:So are you implying that the stress accent was originally more pronounced when Latin verse such as the Saturnian was stress-based but gradually became weaker with the introduction of Greek meters?
vir litterarum wrote:This idea that the Romans were somehow able to undergo a complete prosodic paradigm shift after already possessing an established tradition of verse based on stress accent...
vir litterarum wrote:although I agree that linguistically it is much more difficult to determine syllable length in English than in Latin...
vir litterarum wrote:...it seems to me that syllabic verse in Latin was an artificial imposition on the natural rhythm of the Latin language...
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