[B-Greek] Syllabification

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Tue May 13 16:15:20 EDT 2008

On May 13, 2008, at 3:44 PM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:

>   I don't think I was ever taught about
> syllabification in English or Greek, so it was
> interesting to see a formal presentation of it in
> Mounce's beginning Greek book.  I'm wondering though,
> about one of his rules.  He says that if a cluster of
> consonants can be pronounced, you should keep them
> together and the cluster goes with the following
> vowel.  His example for this is EM-PRO-SQEN.  I
> haven't got anything with me to check this word out,
> but I would have guessed this ought to be EM-PROS-QEN
> for two reasons.  First, I don't think that SQEN is
> capable of really being pronounced as one thing and
> second, I would have guessed that PROS is in fact the
> preposition PROS with a prefix and a suffix as part of
> how the word came to have its meaning.  Is Mounce's
> rule valid and if so, is this example valid, or is the
> rule valid but the example invalid?  Thanks.

I'd say that Mounce's rule is not so much wrong as that it's  
oversimplified and that this particular example is a distinctly bad  
one. It is true that EMPROSQEN derives from prefix EN (with N  
assimilated to P), PROS and QEN (the ablatival suffix). But it can in  
fact be separated into syllables with the S counted with the preceding  
syllable or with the following syllable. See Smyth §§138-141 (http://tinyurl.com/6ypjh4 
): "S, when followed by one or more consonants, is either attached to  
the preceding vowel (A-RIS-TOS), or, with the consonant, begins the  
following syllable (A-RI-STOS). (The ancients were not consistent, and  
there is evidence for the pronunciation A-RIS-STOS.)"

or Funk §§060-061 (http://tinyurl.com/5cdunl). I would myself prefer  
to divide EM-PROS-QEN, but where this really matters is in metrical  

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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