Ancient Languages/Accents and rules

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QUESTION: Hi Maria,

I have been occupying myself with the rules on accents and was wondering why, for example, the noun ἡ χώρα-τῆς χώρας and some similar ones take an acute, whereas ἡ μοῖρα-τῆς μοίρας takes a circumflex in nominative. If I have understood it correctly the -ας ending is always long regardless of case, which explains why in the genitive μοίρας the accent changes. But after this observation, why doesn't χώρα also take a circumflex as it has, too, the same ending and vowel sequence of the same quality, i.e. long-short (?).

Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: Hello,

the noun ἡ χώρα, whose genitive singular is τῆς χώρας, takes an acute accent because the last vowel α is a long vowel (-ᾱ ) and thus the accent on the penult, wich is the omega (-ω-), cannot be the circumflex, since the penult, if accented and long, like -ω-, takes the circumflex only when the last vowel is short, just like in μοῖρᾰ,where the last -α is short(-ᾰ), though it is preceded by the consonant rho(ρ).
(Read more below about the so-called "pure Alpha").

This is the reason why  μοῖρα takes a circumflex in the  nominative, just because when the last vowel  is short, a word, if accented on a long penult, has the circumflex (see μοῖρᾰ) , whereas when the last vowel  is long, a word, if accented on a long penult, has the acute (see χώρᾱ).

Also, I have to point out that in μοῖρᾰ the alpha is short, even it is preceded by the rho, because the so-called “pure alpha”, i.e. preceded by the vowels ε, ι, or the consonant ρ, can become short, when it stands after a diphthong in the penult syllabe, just like in μοῖρᾰ where the penult is the diphthong -oι-. (See also εὔνοιᾰ, for example).

To conclude, you are right in thinking that the -ας ending is always long regardless of case, which explains why in the genitive μοίρας the accent changes from circumflex to acute.

But, differently from μοῖρᾰ, the noun  χώρᾱ cannot  take a circumflex, because  the last alpha is long, whereas the last alpha of μοῖρᾰ is short.

Hope this is clear enough, although the matter is not so easy. Feel free however to ask me again.

Best regards,

Maria
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P.S.

Please note that in the first declension the feminine nominative singular can end in -ᾱ, -ᾰ, or –η.

If the nominative singular ends in -ᾱ (long vowel) preceded by the vowels ε, ι, or the consonant ρ , the -ᾱ is kept throughout the singular, plural and dual like in χώρᾱ.

If the nominative singular ends in -ᾱ (long vowel ) preceded by a consonant which is not a ρ, alpha is changed to -η as in φυγή where the -η is kept throughout the singular.

Lastly, if the nominative singular ends in -ᾰ (short vowel), alpha is changed to -η in the genitive and dative singular, as in γλῶττᾰ,  whose genitive and dative are γλώττης and γλώττῃ respectively.

But, if the last vowel is a short alpha (-ᾰ) in nouns like μοῖρᾰ or εὔνοιᾰ, the -ᾰ is kept throughout the singular, plural and dual.





---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response, Maria. It is clear to me, okay. But can one determine whether the final -α is long or short by other observational means, e.g. if I gave you the following words, how could one determine - without looking them up - the quantity of -α and thus the accent of the penultimate syllable:

λυρα, νησσα, μουσα, μαζα, αυρα, πεινα, σαυρα, πειρα, πολιτεια, μυια


A quick but different question that came to my mind on accents:
We learn that whenever the ultimate syllable is long, then the antepenultimate isn't accented. How do we explain the case of nouns such as for instance gen. plur. πόλεων, ἀνώγεων instead of πολέων, ἀνωγέων etc. Also found in gen. singular, dat. plural and other cases. Thank you again. I really appreciate your time.

ANSWER: Hello,

In the words  λυρα, νησσα, μουσα, μαζα, αυρα, πεινα, σαυρα, πειρα, πολιτεια and  μυια  one  can  determine - without looking them up - the quantity of -α and thus the accent of the penultimate syllable by considering carefully  whether the final -α is long or short, since the accent of the penultimate syllable depends on this ending.

Therefore, according to the rules that I’ve mentioned in my previous answer, we can say that:

-λυρα  has a long –ᾱ , i.e. “pure alpha”, as preceded by the rho, and thus the penultimate syllable has the acute accent, i.e. λύρα.

-νησσα  has a short -ᾰ  as it is not preceded by  ε, ι, ρ , and thus the penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e. νῆσσα.

-μουσα has a short -ᾰ  as it is not preceded by  ε, ι, ρ , and thus the penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e. μοῦσα

-μαζα has a short -ᾰ  as it is not preceded by  ε, ι, ρ , and thus the penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e . μᾶζα

-αυρα has a long –ᾱ , i.e. “pure alpha”, as preceded by the rho, and thus the penultimate syllable has the acute accent, i.e. αὔρα

-πεινα has a short -ᾰ  as it is not preceded by  ε, ι, ρ , and thus the penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e  πεῖνα

-σαυρα has a long – ᾱ , i.e. “pure alpha”, as preceded by the rho, and thus the penultimate syllable has the acute accent, i.e. σαύρα

-πειρα has a short -ᾰ  as it is  preceded by  -ρ , but the penultimate syllable is the diphthong –ει- and thus this penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e.  πεῖρα

-πολιτεια  has a long –ᾱ , i.e. “pure alpha”, as preceded by the –ι and thus the penultimate syllable has the acute accent, i.e. πολιτεία.  Note that originally –εί- was not a diphthong, as the nominative was πολιτηια.

-μυια has a short -ᾰ  as it is  preceded by  -ι, but the penultimate syllable is the diphthong –υι- and thus this penultimate syllable has the circumflex accent, i.e.  μυῖα



As for the antepenultimate which  isn't accented when the ultimate syllable is long, please note that the case of nouns such as e.g.  the gen. plur. πόλεων and the nominative neuter singular ἀνώγεων (Attic declension), instead of πολέων and  ἀνωγέων,  depends on the fact that:

(a)The genitive plural πόλεων retains the accent of the earlier πόλη-ων, which, by transfer of quantity, became πόλε-ων as well as the genitive singular πόλη-ος became πόλε-ως .
Note that πόλις has a stem in ι (πολι-), a stem in εj (πολεj-), whence the plural πόλεις,  and a stem in η (πολη-), as in Homeric  πόλη-ος, whence πόλε-ως.

(b)The nominative neuter ἀνώγεων (ἀνώγεων, ω, τό, Attic declension) retains the accent of the earlier ἀνώγηον, which, by transfer of quantity, became ἀνώγεων.
Note that in Attic declension the accent of the nominative is kept in all cases.

Best regards,

Maria


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Okay, really well explained and understood. Thank you so much again. One thing that I noticed is that σαύρα also has a diphthong -αυ- but it is not circumflected like πεῖρα. Why is that, then? I assume there are many words with a diphthong before -ρα or like -*ια or -*υρα- but not all of them would become circumflected, right? So, are there more details on that?

In the pair πόλη-ων/πόλε-ων I don't see the quantitative transfer as in the singular, because only one thing has changed, i.e. the η has changed to ε. Could it have been *τῶν πόληον --> πόλεων; Even if we stress the word πόλεως according to πόληος after the quantitative transfer, do we still regard the ending -ως as long or short? One would expect that the stress moves as part of a dialectal differentiation. The Ionic πόλιος keeps the omicron and thus the stress in the antepenultimate syllable. In Homer I have seen the word πολέος as well as in Euripides with the accent πόλεος. So what is going on here?

Answer
Note that  σαύρα, which has the diphthong -αυ-, is not circumflected like πεῖρα, because it is the diphthong with the vowel -ι- (iota ) that usually determines the  quantity of the final alpha and then the circumflex accent  on the penultimate syllable.
See e.g. the diphthong –ει- in πεῖρα and the diphthong –υι- in μυῖα.
See also abstract nouns in -εια and -οια from adjectives in -ης and -οος, as ἀλήθειᾰ  (from ἀληθής )and εὔνοιᾰ (from εὔνους, εὔνοος )as well as most substantives in -ρα after a diphthong or ῡ, as μοῖρᾰ and γέφῡρᾰ.


Lastly, it is true that in the genitive plural  πόλη-ων/πόλε-ων there is not  the transfer of quantity like in the genitive singular, but the accent of the genitive plural follows that of the genitive singular: which I forgot to point out.

As for the Ionic πόλιος which keeps the omicron and thus the stress in the antepenultimate syllable, note that  in Homer we find πόλιος, πολέος, πόλεος as well as forms with -η :πόληος, πόληι, πόληες, πόληας, according to the  Ionic dialect.
Moreover  we find  πόλεος in Ionic-Attic (see Euripides).

Best,
Maria

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