Re: Augment revisited

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Thu May 08 1997 - 00:24:34 EDT

At 8:02 AM -0500 5/5/97, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

>. . . But the fact that we have a NAME, "temporal" augment for the
>lengthening of an initial stem vowel in place of the "syllabic" augment
>regularly placed before an initial stem consonant, gives rise to a couple
>questions in my mind: (1) How far back in grammatical terminology does the
>term "temporal augment" go? and (2) (semi-facetiously) If the "temporal"
>augment marked TIME on an indicative past tense, was the function of the
>"syllabic" augment ever perceived as marking something OTHER THAN TIME? (I
>certainly haven't ever heard of any distinction in function between the two
>types of augment.

I thought the 'temporal' in 'temporal augment' meant that the augment was
expressed by a lengthened vowel (one that took more *time* to say than its
short equivalent). It contrasts with the sylabic augment which doesn't need
a temporally lengthened vowel. Am I way off-base here? Long vowels in Greek
originally took longer to say than the related short vowel did they not?
(Of course in English, the distinction between long and short has nothing
to do with time. It is a matter of tension in the vocal apparatus. The
shift to lengthening by tension rather than time eventually took place in
Greek, but when the term for the augment was invented, I would bet the
temporal lengthening was still the norm.)

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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