Thursday, November 15, 2012

A list of known phonetic tricks in Latin

I woke up and realized that there are a lot more phonetic tricks going on in Latin than had occurred to me yesterday. I'm going to use play loose with IPA here (mostly so I don't have to go fiddling with fussy characters. I'll tighten things up later when there isn't a child running amok). Part of what makes this tricky is that Latin's orthography hides the underlying representation by using the surface forms in writing.

/urbs/ → [urps]
/adfero/ → [affero]
/inperfectus/ → [imperfectus]
/adcusativus/ → [accusativus]
/obstare/ → /opstare/
/recapio/ → /recipio/
/inlatus/ → [illatus]
/abfero/ → [aufero]

This should be enough to keep my memory fresh. A lot of these tricks are mentioned in beginner textbooks, so their action is well known. The matter will be to see if there are any constraints that can be drawn out to explain the mess. Recipio could be particularly enlightening. /a/ becomes [ɪ] when the stress goes away?

The prepositions a/ab and e/ex are a trick. Which form is underlying? The worst part is that the divide is really easy to describe. Oral consonants get the short form. Everything else (i.e. /h/ and V) get the long form.

/e urbe/ → [ex urbe]

/a(b) te/ → [abs te]

Though given that the archaic form is abs te, my hunch is that [ab] is the underlying form.