Latin minimal pairs distinguished only by vowel length

Iáson

Cívis Illústris
That's not a minimal pair.
The thread title does say 'minimal pairs', but if you read the first post, the OP in fact asks merely for 'words which are distinguished only by vowel length' and includes the example of pārēre vs. parere.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
That's not a minimal pair.
I suppose that I'm not entirely sure what "minimal pair" means, in any precise way. As Iason indicated, I was following the example given by Philip initially. How about hōc the adverb and ablative masculine/neuter singular of hic, vs. hoc nominative and accusative neuter singular of hic?
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I suppose that I'm not entirely sure what "minimal pair" means, in any precise way.
It means that the words must differ in exactly one place (and there, usually in only one feature of their pronunciation). iugis and iugis would differ in two.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
It all depends whether inflections of the same word count as minimal pairs. Do they? Technically yes, I guess...?
 

Iáson

Cívis Illústris
Ah, I see... How does the hōc/hoc example work?
They differ in only one phoneme, ō vs. o. Thus they constitute a minimal pair.
It all depends whether inflections of the same word count as minimal pairs. Do they? Technically yes, I guess...?
I don't quite understand. Why wouldn't they?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Serenus

Civis Illustris
maria 'seas'
Mariā (nom.), Mariae (gen.) 'the Virgin Mary' (mostly in 4th-5th century poetry, from Greek Μαρίᾱ)
Marīa 'the Virgin Mary' (mostly in 6th century poetry and later, cf. Spanish María)

Examples:
Intrat virgineam: "Sanctus tē spīritus", inquit, / "Inplēbit, Mariā. Christum pariēs, sacra virgō."
(Prudentius, Dittochaeon 99-100; 4th c.)

Inde Deī genetrīx pia Virgŏ Marīa corūscat / virgineōque agnī dē grege dūcit ovēs.
(Venantius Fortunatus, Carmina 8.3; 6th c.)
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
Someone just informed me of something interesting about the very first vowel length pair mentioned in this thread...
And I think hīc ‘here’ versus hic ‘this’, unless they’re the same word or one is a form of the other?
They're not the same word. The former is an adverb while the latter is the nominative masculine singular form of the demonstrative pronoun.
screenshot_1608180478.png


W. Sydney Allen's Vox Latina has a small subsection dedicated to the nominative hic and the nominative/accusative hoc, "(iii) hic and hoc", in chapter 3 "Vowel Length", pages 75-77 in the 2nd edition. This screenshot comes from page 76.

It turns out there is a further difference between hīc 'here' and "hic", which is sometimes hĭc with a short ĭ (the original form) before a vowel-initial word, but is more often read "hĭcc" with a pronounced final geminate -cc. This is an analogy with *hŏd-cĕ > hŏcc > always spelled hŏc (but still pronounced "hŏcc" before a vowel). Allen pretty much says that dictionaries that print this demonstrative as "hīc haec hōc" (as Lewis & Short's does) incur in a mistake.

It's worth noting that in Pedecerto's large database of ancient hexameter and pentameter, the old original hĭc still occurs a little bit into Late Latin. It doesn't have any poetry lines that aren't hexameter/pentameter, but it nevertheless shows these instances:

Ennius: 1, Lucretius: 4, Vergil: 2, Claudian: 1, Tertullian: 2, Terentianus Maurus grammaticus: 1, Marius Victorinus: 1, Pope Damasus I: 1, Paulinus of Nola: 1, plus 2 instances in the Anthologia Latina (of unknown authorship).

And as Allen suggests, both hĭc with a short -ĭ- and a single -c, and "hic" read as "hĭcc", can be found in Plautus:

Sed quĭs hĭc ést ho|mō, quem‿ante aedīs || videō‿hōc noctis? | Nōn placet.
H x H x | H x H x || u u x H x | H u H
'But who's that person who I see in front of the house at this time of the night? I don't like it.' (EDIT: corrected translation of hōc noctis)
Amphitruo
292, trochaic septenarius

Clārē‿advorsum | fābulābor, || hic auscultet | quae loquar;
H x H x | H x H x || H x H x | H u H
igitur magi' dē|mum mâiōrem‿in || sēsē concipi|et metum.
u u x u u x | H x H x || H x H x | H u H
'I'll speak loudly, and may he hear what I say, so by the end of it he'll be in even greater fear.'
Amphitruo 300-301, trochaic septenarius

Séd quĭs hĭc ést ho|mō...
|| hĭc(c) auscúltet | ...

Meanwhile, hŏc before a vowel is only attested 4 times in Pedecerto's database: Tertullian: 1, Dracontius: 1, Venantius Fortunatus: 1, plus 1 instance in the Anthologia Latina, so basically in only Late Latin authors (and very rarely at that!).

And example of hoc read as "hŏcc" in Ovid:

Carminis | hoc ip|sum genus | inpār, | sed tamen | aptē
 jungitur | hērō|us || cum brevi|ōre mo|dō.
'This very type of poem [the elegiac couplet] is unbalanced, but nevertheless the heroic [hexameter] fittingly joins the shorter [pentameter] measure.'
(Amores 2.17.21-22)


tl;dr:
- hīc 'here'
- hic 'this X' (masculine nominative), pronounced hĭc before a consonant but usually as if "hĭcc" before a vowel, except hĭc is also possible
- hōc (ablative singular of hic and hoc)
- hoc 'this X' (neuter nominative/accusative), pronounced hŏc before a consonant but pretty much always as if "hŏcc" before a vowel
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
As for the two hics being the same word or different ones, I guess it depends what you mean by that. They usually have separate dictionary entries, but the adverb must be an old locative form or the like of the pronoun.
hōc noctis
Rather "at this time of night", I believe.
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
As for the two hics being the same word or different ones, I guess it depends what you mean by that. They usually have separate dictionary entries, but the adverb must be an old locative form or the like of the pronoun.
It's more of a warning for people who might see Lewis and Short's misleading macrons in "hīc haec hōc". Not the only misleading macrons they have either... cf. "cūjus" and "ŭter, ū̆tra, ū̆trum", where the macron stands for a heavy syllable.

Also for anyone who might be confused or uncomfortable about all those "hoc est" etc. that have to be read as if heavy syllable + heavy sylllable ("hŏcc est"). I definitely was a bit until today.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm aware that your post is about pronunciation and doesn't say anything about their being the same word or not. My comment was in reference to the posts by Philip Newton and Ignis Umbra that you'd quoted.
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
A pretty obscure one:

sedēre, 'to sit down', infinitive of sedeō
sēdēre, variant of sēdērunt, 'they sat down'
sēdēre, variant of sēdēris, 'that you (may) be calmed down / appeased', subjunctive of sēdō sēdāre
 
A pretty obscure one:

sedēre, 'to sit down', infinitive of sedeō
sēdēre, variant of sēdērunt, 'they sat down'
sēdēre, variant of sēdēris, 'that you (may) be calmed down / appeased', subjunctive of sēdō sēdāre
Afraid Iáson beat you to it, he and his Argonautici (although he didn't list perfect, I think).

At a glance through the pages, I don't think I found:

miserás (miser) : míserás (mitto)
anus : ánus
múris (mús) : múrís (múrus)
*porcé (porceo) : porce
véniás (vénia) : veniás (venió)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I thought the anus pair was bound to have been done before, as it's one of the most famous (what with people's childish sense of humor :D ).
 
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