Thursday, August 25, 2011

Moseley: Dictionary of Latin Quantities

A Dictionary of Latin Quantities by William Willis Moseley (1827)

The full title describes the book as follows: "A dictionary of Latin quantities: or prosodian's guide to the different quantities of every syllable in the Latin language, alphabetically arranged: to which is prefixed a treatise on prosody." Yet the book is not at all a dictionary in the traditional sense. Instead, it is a listing of Latin sound combinations of vowels and consonants with guidelines as to whether you would expect the vowels to be long or short. So, for example, the entry for "ud" begins: U before D is long in the middle syllables of nouns (examples) but U before D is sometimes short in the middle syllables of nouns (examples) etc. Although modern readers will probably find it faster and easier simply to look up the quantities in a dictionary, this book offers a fascinating tool for exploring the patterns of Latin sounds, covering all the vowel and consonant combinations systematically.


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