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Re: Pronunciation Database

Last post on this thread, I promise!

Quoting David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at>:

> > The graphic combination <ae> in Classical Latin
> > corresponds to the diphthong [aj].
> That's all the
> <k> versus <q> business; <Kuwait> starts like <keel>, <Qaida> starts like
> <cool>.

Well, that's how it's often explained, but Arabic /k/ and /q/ are really more
different than that.  /k/ is a velar stop, produced with a constriction near
the boundary between the hard and soft palate.  /q/ is a uvular stop, made with
a constriction rather farther back (and down) on the soft palate.  Uvular stops
are common in Semitic and are also found in many languages of the Caucasus,
North Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.

> Now for the higher nitpicking... it certainly wasn't [aj]. That's not a
> diphthong, it's a vowel plus a consonant. I'd guess /aI/. Indeed there's an
> Old Latin inscription somewhere which actually uses <AI>. For Classical
> Latin I'd rather say /aE/, based on the spelling... small difference,
> though!

It's generally assumed to be the diphthong variously transcribed [aj], [ay],
[ai], or [aI].  They are all used by various phoneticians and are essentially
interchangeable, since, to the best of my knowledge, no language displays a
contrast between any two of these.  (You don't want to get into a discussion of
the philosophy behind the transcription of diphthongs.  Suffice it to say that
some transcriptions seem to work better for some languages, but the
transcription used is very largely simply based on the personal preference of
the transcriber.)

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the <ae> and <oe> spellings are just that,
orthographic conventions; a language with an /ae/ or /aE/ diphthong and no /ai/
or /aI/ diphthong would be extremely unusual.

> > The position of the stressed in Latin is usually
> > maintained in words like this and so would go on the third-to-last
> > syllable
> > (the antepenult).
> I think so... but stress in Latin has complex connections to syllable
> length... and Greek stress isn't something that could be guessed by
> outsiders anyway... :-(

Stress in Latin has very simple connections to syllable length:  If the
second-to-last (penultimate) syllable is long (contains a long vowel or ends in
a consonant), it gets stressed.  Otherwise, the antepenultimate (third-to-last)
syllable gets the stress.  The only exceptions are a small class of words that
end in <c> and are stressed on the last syllable.

Stress in simple Greek nouns is unpredictable, but stress in compounds is
predictable:  stress goes on the penult if the vowel of the last syllable is
long, on the antepenult otherwise (and the diphthongs /ai/ and /oi/ almost
always count as short):

/dip'lo-/ 'double' + /do'kos/ 'beam' -> /dip'lo.do.kos/ 'having two beams',
/dip.lo'do.ki.dai/, lit. 'those who look like the one with two beams' (in Latin
transcription, <diplodocidae>)

Sorry to have thoroughly bored you all,

Nick Pharris
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan