Steve Gustafson stevegus at
Sun Mar 18 01:53:56 UTC 2001

David L. White wrote:

>> According to Palmer, Vulgar Latin first "closed" the quality of long vowels,
>> giving nine distinct vowel-timbres (/a:/ could not be "closed"). The
>> phonemic distinction of vowel-quantity was then lost, as stressed vowels
>> became long and unstressed ones short. Convergence of close /o/ with open
>> /U/, and of close /e/ with open /I/, formed the basis of Continental West
>> Romance.

>         Yes, the point is that long mids can sound like short highs, or
> mergers would not happen.  Thus one language's long mid could sound like
> another's short high.  When it happened in Latin is irrelevant, though I
> believe most observers would posit a difference in quality for Latin shorts
> and longs going way back into pre-history.

The similarity between /e/ and /I/, at least, goes back to the earliest
authentic Latin inscriptions we know of.  The Duenos bowl contains FECED for
CL -fecit-.   A blurred distinction between /o/ and /U/ goes back almost as
far in Latin inscriptions; Old Latin frequently writes CONSOL or even COSOL
for CL -consul-.

Heus, nunc, mihi cantate hanc aeruginem.

Ceterum censeo sedem Romanam esse delendam.

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