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latin accent in golden age: pitch or stress?

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latin accent in golden age: pitch or stress?

Postby chad » Tue Dec 02, 2003 2:47 am

hi guys,

i've read in several places that latin might have had a pitch accent rather than a stress accent in the golden age. varro talks about the "pitch" (altitudo) rather than the stress of the accent (De Lingua Latina, 210, 10-16, GS).

i know that later on, latin like greek definitely had a stress accent. but what's the evidence for the pronunciation of the accent as stress in the golden age?

i'd like to know because i've been experimenting with a pitch accent for the latin word accent in catullus, horace and virgil, and i'm hearing poetic "music" which i'm not sure is intentional or just imported in by me...

apparently Vendryes wrote a book about this issue, Recherches sur I'histoire et les effets de I'intensite initiale en latin (Paris, 1902)... has anyone looked at this?

cheers, chad. :)
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Postby benissimus » Tue Dec 02, 2003 5:37 am

Obviously, they would have used pitch for dramatic effect and in singing, but I don't know how likely it is that they spoke with it...
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby chad » Tue Dec 02, 2003 5:54 am

ok, but why assume that latin had a stress accent at that time? is there evidence for this, matching/refuting varro? i just haven't seen yet where this assumption comes from...

cheers benissimus, chad. :)
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Postby 1%homeless » Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:04 am

Vox Latina:

“It is inconceivable that Latin should have developed a system of pitch accents that agreed in such minor detail with Greek, and we can only assume that the grammarians have slavishly misapplied the Greek system to the description of Latin...”

He doesn't really give much evidence. Maybe it seems so obvious to him that Latin didn't have pitch accent that he doesn't really have to give much evidence.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:52 am

No, I am afraid that is not very convincing. What grammarians is he referring to who have applied the Greek accent to Latin?
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Postby 1%homeless » Thu Dec 04, 2003 8:23 am

Um, he didn't refer to any grammarians in that statement, but I was just summing up his opinion about the pitch accent issue. In the previous sentence he did mention Pempeius and Prician, but he didn't implicitly connect them to that statement. I can't type out the entire chapter on accent, but he is aware of Varro and french scholars supporting the pitch accent argument. I shouldn't really have said he didn't provide a lot of evidence, but "concrete evidence". His arguments are very persuasive though. Don't you people have access to a good library? :-)

Ok... I just went and checked this other book by Sturtevant called "The Pronunciation of Greek and Latin."

It says:
"We must conclude that Latin accent was a pitch accent as well as a stress accent. We have no means of deciding which of the two elements was the stronger; quite possibly they were equally prominent."

Oooh boy... I think I will pretend to agree with Allen and stick with stress accent; one reason being that I wouldn't know where to begin to render pitch accent in Latin. You have fun Chad. :-) It's great that you're one of the few people that actually really care about the pronunciation details of Greek and Latin.
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Postby Episcopus » Thu Dec 04, 2003 4:43 pm

I do I do! I like reciting it lest I should be called to any sudden random bishoprication. (episcopare)
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