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In verse theory , quantity denotes the distinction between long syllables (also lengths ) and short syllables (also shortening ) in the metrical form of the poem in poetry forms that follow the quantitating verse principle .

The Latin and ancient Greek metrics further subdivide long syllables into natural and positional .

Syllables are called naturlang ( Greek συλλαβή φύσει μακρά syllabē physei makrā ' ; Latin syllaba natura longa ) if the syllable core is either a diphthong or a long vowel . Prosody treats naturally long syllables as two-core . Abbreviations, on the other hand, are regarded as single-letter, which means that two consecutive short syllables ( double abbreviation ) are as long as one long syllable.

Position length ( Greek συλλαβή θέσει μακρά syllabē thesei makrā ; Latin syllaba positione longa ) of a syllable exists when a short vowel forms the syllable core and this is followed by at least two consonants . These, too, are prosodically regarded as two-morig, as long as a plosive sound ( muta ) is not followed by a flowing sound ( liquida ). The latter are usually considered short, but are occasionally used in place of a long syllable. The German term “position length” is derived from Latin and describes a syllable that is not “natural”, but rather through “setting” (ie by convention, Latin “ positione ”, Greek “ θέσει ”) is regarded as long. So, “position”, seen etymologically, does not refer to the position of the vowel in front of two consonants.

As an example, a brief explanation of the stem vowels of the following two Latin words:

  • contentum "satisfied" ("ten" is long, because the vowel is followed by 2 consonants that are not muta plus liquida, but nasal "n" plus muta "t"); the stem syllable is positionally long;
  • émigro "I wander out" ("mig" is short because a muta, namely "g", and a liquida, "r", follow the vowel.); the stem syllable is not positionally long.

A syllable, which can be long or short depending on the context, is called syllaba anceps (Latin anceps "ambiguous", "undecided"; German also anceps ).

In ancient metrics, a distinction must be made between the length and shortness described here as a property of a (concrete) syllable from the lengths and shortenings that appear as verse elements in the metrical scheme of verse foot and meter . For example, a long verse element (in the scheme as - notated) can be realized in the concrete verse by two short syllables in the foot of the verse Spondäus (——). In the reproduction of ancient forms in modern languages, especially in German, the elementum longum or the elementum breve always corresponds exactly to one syllable.


Web links

Wiktionary: syllable length  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Example according to Glück, keyword “positionslang”.