[b-greek] Re: Accent placement rules; APOLUTRWSEWS

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Jun 29 2001 - 12:03:31 EDT

At 11:05 AM -0400 6/29/01, Matthew Harris wrote:
>Hi, I'm new to this list. (Wow, this message system is harsh... I forgot
>the subject field the first time and lost my entire message. Here goes for
>a second try...)
>I am teaching myself Biblical Greek and am somewhat disappointed that,
>despite a couple of hundred dollars invested in grammars, lexicons etc. I
>have been unable to find any in-depth discussion of accent placement
>According to a brief description I found somewhere, the third accent rule
>is, "if the ultima is long, then the antepenult cannot be accented".
>What is troubling me is a word I came across, APOLUTRWSEWS (the genitive
>singular form of APOLUTRWSIS), which apparently has an acute accent on the
>antepenult. Can someone explain this to me, since I thought having an W in
>the ultima makes it long, thereby necessitating the enforcement of the
>third rule? Does it have something to do with the final sigma? Or am I
>just syllabifying wrong, and the accent isn't really on the antepenult?
>Can anybody explain the accent placement rules to me, or direct me to
>somewhere/someone who could (preferably online)? E.g. what exactly does it
>mean to say that verbs are recessive?

The problem encountered in the genitive -EWS of nouns with nominative in
-IS is that -EWS is a single long syllable, the epsilon and omega being
pronounced either as a simple omega or as a diphthong with an epsilon
gliding at once into the omega; the technical term for this is SYNIZESIS,
the squeezing of a preceding short vowel into a following long vowel so
that the combination constitutes a single syllable. Since this is the case,
the acute accent on the -W- preceding -SEWS is correct, because the
configuration is the same as with any other noun with a long ultima: the
accent can go no further back than the penult and must be an acute.

I hope that's reasonably clear, but accentuation is a difficult matter;
many feel that it's not really worth the effort to learn the rules of
accentuation, despite the fact that there are numerous words that are
spelled with identical characters but have different meanings indicated by
the accentuation.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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