Accent Marks?

NóttShade

New Member
Are accent marks typical in Latin? Is the more modernized form of Latin without accent marks? If accent marks are the proper way to write, I'd like to use them-- anyone recommend a good keyboard?

I just finished Rosetta Stone, which had no accent marks. Now I'm starting on declensions (Raineri-Dowling Method) and there are accent marks. I'm not sure if the accent marks are just there to let me know where the emphasis is in pronunciation, or if they are there because they belong there in writing.

I realize this is a very basic question, but I couldn't find an answer through a search on the forum. Likely I have more to learn than just Latin... and need to familiarize myself with the forum better.

By the way, I found Rosetta Stone great for an easy/visual introduction to Latin vocabulary and pronunciation, though it didn't bring me above beginner level and I certainly don't understand grammar or how to form my own sentences.

Thank you!
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Do you mean macrons? Those aren't accent marks properly speaking; they indicate long vowels rather than accents. They are a mostly modern thing, generally used only in dictionaries and learning material. Long vowels were occasionally marked in ancient times (with apices, which looked kind of like acute accents, by the Romans) but not consistently as in modern textbooks.
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
I would suggest you get into the habit of marking macrons, or at least learning which vowels are long. Otherwise later on you will find poetry (and speaking) difficult.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
If you care about vowel length, I second Cinefactus' advice to consistently mark long vowels with macrons for learning purposes. You may think of them as an auxiliary tool, like harakat/nekudot for Semitic languages, stress marks in Russian or phonetic transcription for English: something that is mostly used in dictionaries and for beginners. Macrons are not used in books except for texts for beginners (and dictionaries, of course). Nowadays, Latin texts have no diacritical marks.

As for vowel length, it's not at all crucial for speaking and I don't know whether it helps to appreciate the poetry (personally, I'm unable to appreciate it in any manner). But the fact is that Latin had 10 + 2 vowel phonemes, and if you want to get them right, you'd better do so from the very start.

As far as I know, in printed texts only macrons have ever been used for long vowels (or heavy syllables). On the internet you can find texts where e. g. circumflexes or acutes are used for this purpose, but those are due either to technical reasons or personal whims.

But this was not always the case. You can check on Google Books that in old books quite a few diacritical marks were in use, for instance:
- circumflex for abl. sg. of 1st declension: causâ and sometimes for other cases; for contractions: nôsti; the interjection ô
- grave on -e of indeclinable words: benè and in other situations, e. g. to differentiate the pronoun quam and the conjunction quàm; for prepositions à and è;
- acute before the enclitic -que (rarely): virúmque
- tilde over a vowel to indicate that subsequent m or n is omitted: causã = causam.
Graves were the most frequent ones. They were hints of the syntactic role of words rather than pronunciation, a kind of "syntax highlighting". The use of these marks was not uniform. Gradually they fell out of use with the circumflex on the ablative ending holding on the longest. Personally, I find it quite helpful and use it myself (not immediately after a preposition, though, because then the case is obvious).

When I need a longish text with diacritical marks, I use improvised vim's keymaps; otherwise the Compose key or vim's digraphs suffice.
 
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NóttShade

New Member
Do you mean macrons? Those aren't accent marks properly speaking; they indicate long vowels rather than accents. They are a mostly modern thing, generally used only in dictionaries and learning material. Long vowels were occasionally marked in ancient times (with apices, which looked kind of like acute accents, by the Romans) but not consistently as in modern textbooks.
Thank you. Yes, I guess I mean macrons. They do appear helpful in pronunciation.
 

NóttShade

New Member
I would suggest you get into the habit of marking macrons, or at least learning which vowels are long. Otherwise later on you will find poetry (and speaking) difficult.
Thank you, I will do that! I would like to learn how to pronounce correctly, and then learn to speak with fluency. And read poetry, of course :)
 

NóttShade

New Member
If you care about vowel length, I second Cinefactus' advice to consistently mark long vowels with macrons for learning purposes. You may think of them as an auxiliary tool, like harakat/nekudot for Semitic languages, stress marks in Russian or phonetic transcription for English: something that is mostly used in dictionaries and for beginners. Macrons are not used in books except for texts for beginners (and dictionaries, of course). Nowadays, Latin texts have no diacritical marks.

As for vowel length, it's not at all crucial for speaking and I don't know whether it helps to appreciate the poetry (personally, I'm unable to appreciate it in any manner). But the fact is that Latin had 10 + 2 vowel phonemes, and if you want to get them right, you'd better do so from the very start.

As far as I know, in printed texts only macrons were used for long vowels (or heavy syllables). On the internet you can find texts where e. g. circumflexes or acutes are used for this purpose, but those are due either to technical reasons or personal whims.

But this was not always the case. You can check on Google Books that in old books quite a few diacritical marks were in use, for instance:
- circumflex for abl. sg. of 1st declension: causâ and sometimes for other cases; for contractions: nôsti; the interjection ô
- grave on -e of indeclinable words: benè and in other situations, e. g. to differentiate the pronoun quam and the conjunction quàm; for prepositions à and è;
- acute before the enclitic -que (rarely): virúmque
- tilde over a vowel to indicate that subsequent m or n is omitted: causã = causam.
Graves were the most frequent ones. They were hints of the syntactic role of words rather than pronunciation, a kind of "syntax highlighting". The use of these marks was not uniform. Gradually they fell out of use with the circumflex on the ablative ending holding on the longest. Personally, I find it quite helpful and use it myself (not immediately after a preposition, though, because then the case is obvious).

When I need a longish text with diacritical marks, I use improvised vim's keymaps; otherwise the Compose key or vim's digraphs suffice.
Thank you very much for all of this information--I really appreciate it.

Can I ask what you mean by "Latin had 10 + 2 phonemes"?

I will use the macrons to help me learn. And I'll check out the keymaps/keys you mentioned.

Thank you again!
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
a, ā, e, ē, i, ī, o, ō, u, ū + (I presume) y, ȳ
Yes, that's exactly what I meant. The last pair only occurs in borrowings, so I separated them. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one word with ȳ: būtȳrum "butter'; in oryza "rice" it's short: [oryzza].

And I'll check out the keymaps/keys you mentioned.
No, you can't, I made the keymaps myself. :) So can you, if you use vim. (Or Emacs, but I never said that.)
 

Agrippa

Civis Illustris
Yes, that's exactly what I meant. The last pair only occurs in borrowings, so I separated them. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one word with ȳ: būtȳrum "butter'; in oryza "rice" it's short: [oryzza]....
Doleo quod erras, amice. Cf. Hor. sat. 2, 3, 155: orȳza et L&S s.v. orȳza
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Doleo quod erras, amice. Cf. Hor. sat. 2, 3, 155: orȳza et L&S s.v. orȳza
My dictionary marks it long as well, but I'm not entirely sure how they can tell that it was (it also marks thing like the e in peius long).
I think Quasus's point was that is long by position.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Nonne Z pro duabus consonantibus ponitur, ut in lingua Graeca? Si ita est, difficile quis cognoscet utrum Y brevis an longa sit, nam si longa, quantitas occulta est. In OLD Y illa lineam longam non habet.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Ninjata sum. :D
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
I think Quasus's point was that is long by position.
Yes. :thumb-up:

difficile quis cognoscet utrum Y brevis an longa sit, nam si longa, quantitas occulta est
Maxime! Quam ob causam demonstrandum est mihi vocalem esse brevem, qui hoc affirmem. At ego - proh dolor! - recordari non possum cur ita arbitrer. An quod oryzae nomen hoc in indice http://www.alatius.com/latin/bennetthidden.html non apparet?

That is to say, I'm afraid that at the moment I can do no better than to refer to the list above in order to "prove" that it's short. Which is a poor demonstration. :(
 
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NóttShade

New Member
Yes, that's exactly what I meant. The last pair only occurs in borrowings, so I separated them. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one word with ȳ: būtȳrum "butter'; in oryza "rice" it's short: [oryzza].


No, you can't, I made the keymaps myself. :) So can you, if you use vim. (Or Emacs, but I never said that.)
Good to know. I will copy and paste some macrons and accents in an easy place to access. Yes, I've noticed "y" is almost non-existent.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Good to know. I will copy and paste some macrons and accents in an easy place to access. Yes, I've noticed "y" is almost non-existent.
That's an option, but not what I had in mind.

In vim, it's problematic to use system keyboard layouts. If the same character is associated with different keys in different layouts, the behaviour of vim will depend on the layout and this can't be fixed by means of remappings. Vim doesn't take key codes into account.

Keymaps are an internal mechanism emulating keyboard layouts. They don't effect the normal mode. Keymaps are defined in files like this:
Code:
scriptencoding utf-8

let b:keymap_name = "æâ"

loadkeymap

[ æ
{ Æ
] â
} Â
k q
K Q
q k
Q K
Here I remap brackets and braces to æ and â and swap k and q. (I always swap these letters for Romance languages.) If this keymap is saved as ~/.vim/keymaps/la.vim, it can be loaded by :set kmp=la and toggled by C-^. The bindings are only used for inserting the text, normal mode bindings remain intact and so do insert mode bindings with modifiers (e. g. C-[ works as before).

It's simple, so it's easy to be creative.

In Emacs the idea is more or less the same.
 
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