[B-Greek] Long/short vowels, macrons, and Unicode

James Tauber jtauber at jtauber.com
Wed Mar 8 01:37:29 EST 2006

> Certainly an acute accent may appear on a long vowel or a short  
> vowel, and yes, only a circumflex must appear only on a long vowel or  
> on the second vowel of a diphthong. An acute on a long vowel is by no  
> means uncommon.

Most modern phonological analyses of Ancient Greek accentuation take a
moraic approach where a short vowel is seen as having a single mora and
a long vowel and diphthong as having two.

An acute then means the last mora is accented.
A circumflex means the second-to-last mora is accented.

>From this it follows that only a long vowel or diphthong can take a
circumflex. And also that a long vowel is just as able to take an acute
as a circumflex (the distinction is simply which mora is accented).

Note that the placing of the accent on the second vowel of a diphthong
is a writing convention that is somewhat misleading from a phonological
viewpoint because if the accent is a circumflex, it is actually the
first mora that is accents phonologically. In other words, when Ancient
Greek was still a pitch-accent language, it AU= would have had a
high-pitch on the A mora, not the U, despite the fact the accent is
written over the U.

  James Tauber               http://jtauber.com/
  journeyman of some    http://jtauber.com/blog/

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