The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 10/8 - Anthi Revithiadou

This week’s installment of Phonology Circle features a talk by Anthi Revithiadou

Title: Recessive accentuation in Ancient Greek revisited
Time: Wednesday 10/8, 5PM, 32D831

The issue of accent assignment in Ancient Greek (AGr, 7th c. BC — 3rd c. BC) has been a favorite topic of investigation both in generative (Kiparsky 1967, 1973, 2000, Kiparsky & Halle 1977, Steriade 1982, 1988, Golston 1989, a.o.) as well as in pre-generative phonology (Lejeune 1945, Vendryes 1945, Allen 1966, 1973, Devine and Stephens 1974, 1995, a.o.). AGr was a pitch-accent system which inherited its accents from Proto-Indo-European but also developed certain innovations that distinguish it from other IE accentual systems. More specifically, a cluster of changes took place in Proto-Greek (late 3rd millennium BC) which involved, among other things, the development of recessive accentuation, that is, the limitation of the accent on the last three syllables of the word (1).

(1)Attic (Bubenik 1983: 153)
a. pherómenos < pherómenos Proto-Greek
< *phéromen-o-s 'carried-MASC.NOM.SG'
b. ánthroopos 'man-NOM.SG'
c. patrída 'homeland-ACC.SG'
d. agorá 'market-NOM.SG'

What adds to the complexity of the system, however, is that weight distinctions, confined mainly to the right edge of the word, caused accent to shift if it was too distanced (i.e. more than three moras) from the edge of the word (2).

(2) a. pheroménoo 'carried-MASC.GEN.SG'
b. anthróopou 'man-GEN.SG'

Previous accounts exploit a variety of analytical tools to account for the window and the restricted weight effects. In this talk, I will propose that a more efficient and straightforward analysis of the AGr facts can be made if we implement insights from a representational model that segregates metrical from prosodic structure (Hyde 2001, 2006). Moreover, I will propose that the same theory can also account for the intricate patterns of clitic accentuation:

(3)a. ánthroopós tinos 'someone's man'
óikós tinos 'someone?s house'
b. phílos tinós 'someone?s friend'
phóiniks tinós 'someone?s phoenix'
daímoon tino?s 'someone?s god'