Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mora and accent

Since I'm on about Latin phonology as of late, I might as well talk about accent and mora. I found a paper talking about it. Lehman says this:
P12.  Latin word accentuation
     1. The weight of the last syllable is stipulated to be one mora.
     2. Word accent falls on the third-last mora.
     3. If the word is shorter, word accent falls on the first mora.
While this does not answer the question of whether the mora is a primitive or a derived unit of Latin phonology…
But I don't like the notion of counting the last syllable as one mora for accentuation purposes. It screws up poetic scanning and junks up the whole rest of the system of mora counting. It also fails to account for words that have exceptional accent locations, like illūc.

Making a slight modification to Lehman's rules clears the whole mess up. I propose this:
1. From the last syllable onset position (whether filled or not), count back two moras.
2. Stress the syllable with the mora penultimate to the last onset.
3. If no penultimate mora, stress the mora before the last onset. 
Here's why I like this: No exceptions. Here it is in action. To make things clear, I've turned the ultimate syllable onset red as well as the moras that are counted.

Standard orthography IPA with syllables IPA with moras indicated Onsets and mora count Stress placed
Antepenultimate stressed syllable paenitet paɪ.nɪ.tɛt paɪμμ.nɪμ.tɛμt paɪμμ.nɪμ.tɛμt 'paɪ.nɪ.tɛt
Penultimate stressed syllable amāre a.maː.rɛ aμ.maːμμ.rɛμ aμ.maːμμ.rɛμ a.'maː.rɛ
Ultimate stressed syllable illūc ɪ.lːuːk ɪμlμ.luːμμkμ ɪμlμ.luːμμkμ ɪ.'lːuːk

Presumably the first two rows look like standard action. The last row needs some explaining. First, the /lː/ is part of the second syllable, but it is also a participant in the previous syllable for the purpose of mora. I split it in the IPA with moras indicated column to make the bisyllabic participation explicit. So where do I get off on calling the final /k/ the onset of the ultimate syllable?

Well, for those of you paying attention to your Bennett's, check this:
6.3. When the enclitics… -ce… are appended to words…
And that is exactly what the situation with illūc is. The -c at the end is a remnant of the -ce enclitic. So the actual situation is that the word was originally illucce. Both the ll and the cc, as /lː/ and /kː/, would be ambisyllabic. Ok, so there's some sleight of hand going on by invoking the /k/ at the end of illūc as part of the onset of a non-pronounced syllable, but it kills the irregularity in Lehman's mora-based rule and syllable-based accentuation rules generally. (That said, now we've got a violation of *μμμ. Dammit, nothing works.)

Or am I missing something? I can't help but feel like I'm missing something when I'm putting forward a new idea.