Rough breathings in compound words

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Tue Sep 3 19:24:44 EDT 2002

At 4:50 PM -0400 9/3/02, Erik Westwig wrote:
>...  perhaps I
>can ask the real question I have from a different angle.  Can you think of a
>word which has an rough breathing and which, when modified by a prefix,
>leads to a word that might be considered to have an "implied" rough
>breathing on a non-initial vowel?

I checked Smyth on aspiration and found no adequate answer in ##124=127 nor
did I find anything in Sihler (_New Comparative Grammar of Greek & Latin_).
Finally I checked what I should have checked first, W. Sidney Allen's _Vox
Graeca: The Pronunciation of Classical Greek_ (3d ed., 1987). On pp. 54-55
he discusses aspiration in compound words and says, " ... the situation is
less clear where the first element ends in a vowel or in a consonant which
has no aspirated counterpart. In such cases the aspirate does not generally
appear in Attic inscriptions which otherwise indicate it, but it is
occasionally found--e.g. EUhORKON, PARhEDROI, PROShHKETW. Latin
transcriptions show considerable variation, and this may have been a
feature of Greek speech itself; the presence of aspiration in such forms
could well have depended upon the extent to which the two elements of the
compound were still recognized as such by the speaker. Similar
considerations may well have applied to the aspirate at the beginning of
words in closely connected speech, when preceded by a consoannt, and this
would further help to explain the phenomenon of elision etc. ... Apart from
compounds (and exclamations as EUhAI), interaspiration is attested for
Attic only in the word TAhWS 'peacock,' a borrowing of uncertain origin,
which is specifically mentioned by Athenaeus (397E ff., citing Trypho and
Seleucus as authorities)."

I'm not sure that's an answer that fully resolves the itch of curiosity.
What I wrote this afternoon about ANOSIOS was, of course, little more than
a guess. In English, of course, we feel obliged to pronounce the aspirate
in words such as "inhospitable" or "anhydrous" because the root syllables
are essential to the recognizability of these words. On the other hand, if
we're pronouncing "an hippopotamus," I suspect we're not very careful to
pronounce the "h" of "hippo-."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months:: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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