Reading the excellent recent article by Javier Uría "The pronunciation of syllable Coda m in Classical Latin: a reassessment of some evidence from Latin grammarians” in the American Journal of Philology 140:439–76—and good on them for publishing an interesting technical piece like this!—I realized that some expansions and corrections are in place. The two issues that can be improved are the discussion of the pronunciation of final -m, which I treated rather sketchily, and the allophone of ĭ after initial u̯.
p. 69 More on final -m
My statement here about the pronunciation of -m is too simple. I wrote:
m was a labial nasal as in English. In final position, however, it was reduced to nasalization of the preceding vowel. Thus in Old Latin it often fails to be written: honc oino ploirvme cosentiont r[omai] dvonoro optvmo fvise viro (ILLRP 310, 3rd century bce)73 for CL hunc ūnum plūrimī cōnsentiunt Rōmae bonōrum optimum fuisse uirum “Most people agree that this one man was the best of the nobles at Rome.” It also does not stand in the way of elision in verse when the next word begins with a vowel or h.74
But this glosses over many details that should be mentioned. Replace with:
m was a labial nasal as in English. In word-final position -m evidently was rendered in various ways depending on its context. All of these renderings suggest that the -m was in some sense reduced. Thus in Old Latin it often fails to be written both before a vowel and before a consonant: honc oino ploirvme cosentiont r[omai] dvonoro optvmo fvise viro (ILLRP 310, 3rd century bce)73 for CL hunc ūnum plūrimī cōnsentiunt Rōmae bonōrum optimum fuisse uirum “Most people agree that this one man was the best of the nobles at Rome.” But its phonetic realization is a matter of some dispute. Before a word beginning with a vowel or h it was probably reduced to nasalization, as is shown by its failure to block elision in verse74 and by various statements of the grammarians. For example, Quintilian (Inst. 9.4.40) writes eadem illa littera (i.e. m) . . . etiam si scribitur, tamen parum exprimitur, ut “multum ille” et “quantum erat,” adeo ut paene cuiusdam nouae litterae sonum reddat. neque enim eximitur, sed obscuratur. “The same letter m, even if it is written, is hardly pronounced, as in multum ille and quantum erat so that it almost renders the sound of some new letter, nor is m removed, but it is darkened.” According to Annaeus Cornutus (apud Cassiodorum Keil 7. 147–148): igitur si duo uerba coniungantur, quorum prius “m” consonantem nouissimam habeat posteriusque a uocale incipiat, “m” consonans perscribitur quidem: ceterum in enuntiando durum et barbarum sonat. “So if two words are connected the first of which has m as its last consonant and the later of which begins with a vowel, the consonant m is indeed written out but it sounds harsh and barbaric if it is actually pronounced.” Velius Longus also informs us that Verrius Flaccus suggested (Keil 7.80) that only half a final -m should be written when the next word began with a vowel to show that this should not be pronounced: sicut Verrius Flaccus, ut, ubicumque prima uox “m” littera finiretur, sequens a uocali inciperet, “m” non totam, sed pars illius prior tantum scriberetur, ut appareret exprimi non debere. “[some], like Verrius Flaccus, [thought] that when the first word ended with the letter m and the following word began with a vowel, not the whole but only the first half of that letter should be written, so that it would be clear that it was not to be pronounced.”
But in preconsonantal position some evidence suggests that -m was assimilated to the place of a following stop. The passage from Cornutus quoted above continues At si posterius uerbum quam libet consonantem habuerit uel uocalem loco positam consonantis, seruat “n” litterae sonum. “But if the following word begins with any consonant or a vowel letter in consonantal function, the previous word preserves the sound of the letter n.” (see Uria 2019:447 for the emendation of m to n). Caesellius Vindex (Keil 7.206) paints a similar picture: “M” litteram, ad uocales primo loco in uerbis positas si accesserit, non enuntiabimus; cum autem ad consonantes aut digammon Aeolicum, pro quo nos “u” loco consonantis posita utimur, tunc pro “m” littera “n” litterae sonum decentius efferemus. “We will not pronounce the letter m if it is followed by word beginning with a vowel. But when it is followed by words beginning with a consonant or an Aeolic digamma for which we use u in consonantal function, then we will more correctly pronounce the sound of the letter n instead of m.” Assimilation is also attested epigraphically e.g. tan dvrvm CIL 4.1895), tan cito (CIL 6.6182, presumably with n spelling ŋ) and Cicero famously suggests that inadvertent double entendres could arise from cum nos ‘ when we’ (Fam. 9.22.2) or cum nobis ‘with us’ (Orat. 154) being pronounced as cunno(s) and illam dicam ‘shall I that’ as ill’ landicam (Fam. 9.22.2).75
74 See the discussion at p. 145, n 52.
75 On the pronunciation of final -m see Porzio Gernia 1974a and Uría 2019.
p. 72 u̯ĭ-
I realized today that I don’t have a discussion of the reconstruction of the sound values for Latin vowels parallel to the discussion for consonants in Chapter 7. Some of this info is incorporated into Chapter 8. One detail of pronunciation which I will add is the pronunciation of short i after u̯.
Add to C on page 72
A distinct issue from the sonus medius is the allophone of i after u̯ which a number of grammarians commented on. The 2nd century CE grammarian Velius Longus (Keil 7.54.13-5) noted Nam quibusdam litteris deficimus, quas tamen sonus enuntiationis arcessit, ut cum dicimus “uirtutem” et “uirum fortem consulem Scipionem” per “i” isse fere ad aures peregrinam litteram inuenies. [per i isse is an emendation of Di Napoli]
“For we lack certain letters, which the sound of pronunciation nevertheless seeks, for example, when we say uirtutem and uirum fortem consulem Scipionem, you will find that through an i an almost foreign letter comes to the ear.” In another passage Velius clarifies (Keil 7.75) the topic he has in mind: Unde fit ut saepe aliud scribamus, aliud enuntiemus, sicut supra locutus sum de “uiro” et “uirtute,” ubi “i” scribitur et paene “u” enuntiatur. “So it happens that we often write one thing and pronounce another, as I mentioned above about uir and uirtus where an i is written an almost a u is pronounced.” Priscian (Keil 2.7) writes et “i” quidem quando post “u” consonantem loco digamma functam Aeolici ponitur breuis, sequente “d”, uel “n”, uel “r”, uel “t”, uel “x”, sonum “y” Graecae uidetur habere, ut uideo, uim, uirtus, uitium, uix. “And at least a short i when it is placed after a consonantal u serving in place of an Aeolic digamma, when a d, n, r, t, or x follows, appears to have the sound of a Greek y, as in uideo, uim, uirtus, uitium, and uix.” Spellings with y in this environment are found in inscription beginning in the 2nd century CE (CIL 6.12405 unibyria for uniuiria ‘with one husband’) and the spellings uyr, uyrgo, and uyrga are stigmatized in the Appendix Probi 120–2.fn Romance has no trace of anything but a short i in the reflexes of these words.
fnGrammarians after Velius Longus including Priscian (Keil 2.7) and Diomedes (Keil 1.422) do lump the sonus medius and the uir, uirtutem issues together. See Uría 2019:444.
p. 145, n. 52
Eliminate the sentence "Velius Longus (Keil 7.54) considers the sound of final -m almost a foreign letter (fere…peregrinam litteram)." Uria 2019: 443–6 has shown that the passage does not refer to the pronunciation of final -m but instead to the allophonic rounding of i after a u̯ illustrated by uirum and uirtutem.