intellectualhedonist replied to your link “Why Does English Use “Iambic Pentameter” and Other Greek Poetic Terms?”
This was awesome! One nitpicky thing - it’s being followed by *two* consonants, not one, that make a short syllable long in Latin or Greek. (Hence the long a in anseris or the long u in medullula in Catullus 25.2).
Well, it’s one consonant in the same syllable, although I didn’t specify the syllable part. So an.se.ris has to be long-short-long because ns- is not a good combination for the onset of a syllable, but notice that the final syllable is long because it ends in a single consonant.
On the other hand, two consonants that can begin a syllable in Latin, such as the br- in Februarius (c.f. breve), don’t have to make the preceding syllable long. (Well, Februarius can be syllabified as fe.bru.a.ri.us or feb.ru.a.ri.us depending on how you deal with ambisyllabicity).
Interesting to see how rules are phrased depending on discipline - in Classics it’s “a short vowel followed by two consonants or a double consonant (ζ, ξ, ψ), though a mute + liquid is an occasional exception,” but now that I see the linguistic POV…yeah, “a syllable ending in a consonant” is a lot simpler.
(I was about to be really excited about how much easier this would make explaining long-by-position vowels to my students, and then I realized that it’d require giving them a quick 101 on breaking words up into syllables too. I guess it’ll help with the ones who’ve taken linguistics, anyway.)
Hence why I think a bit of basic linguistics helps everyone!
I expect that Classics rule would also give you an exception for s+C clusters (where C is a consonant), because those are also licit in the onset of Latin syllables (na.sci not nas.ci, Ve.sta not Ves.ta because you have sc- as in scire, st- as in stella, etc.).
The way I teach it to intro linguistics students is that you need to put as many consonants in the onset (the part before the vowel) as possible, and what’s a possible onset for a given language can be seen in what consonants are found at the beginnings of words. So, for example, there are Latin words beginning in br-, st-, etc. but not mp-, cc-, etc. The licit onsets belong to the subsequent syllable, while the illicit ones must be divided between the coda of the preceding syllable and the onset of the next.
The Greek double consonants (ζ, ξ, ψ - that’s zeta, xi, and psi for the non-classicists following along) make things complicated though. At some point they should have been licit onsets in Greek (e.g. psyche and xylos were once pronounced with /ps-/ and /ks-/; /pn-/, /pt-/ were also fine, as in pneu-, pter-) but there have been a lot of sound changes so at various points in different languages people started not pronouncing them in full at the beginning of words but preserving them word-medially by splitting them into different syllables: in English loanwords, for example, pterodactyl has a silent p, but helicopter splits the pt cluster; both are from Greek pter- “wing”. So before this sound change happened, double consonants shouldn’t have triggered the preceding syllable as being considered “heavy”, but afterwards they should have. It’s plausible that the Greek double consonants may never have been licit onsets in Latin, for example. (Given that my knowledge of Greek and especially historical developments in Greek poetry is much weaker than my Latin, I’d be very interested to know how accurate this speculation is.)
With respect to your other comment:
intellectualhedonist replied to your post “Syllables in Latin”
The -ris in anseris is followed by two consonants, as the next word starts with an ‘m’ - though of course you’re right in that the actual rule is a consonant ending the syllable. (Hence why ‘z’ lengthens a short syllable - it’s a double consonant.)
You also syllabify irrespective of word boundaries, because people don’t pause between words when speaking naturally. (Liason and elision in French are an excellent example of this happening.)