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Allen and Greenough/ NEw Latin Grammar

Quantity

10. Vowels are either long or short by nature , and are pronounced accordingly (§ 8).

a. A vowel before another vowel or h is short: as in vĭa, nĭhil.

b. A diphthong is long: as in aedēs, foedus. So, also, a vowel derived from a diphthong: as in exclūdō (from †ex-claudō).

c. A vowel formed by contraction is long: as in nīl (from nihil).

d. A vowel before ns, nf, gn, is long: as in cōnstāns, īnferō, māgnus.

Note— But the quantity of the vowel before gn is not certain in all cases.

e. A vowel before nd, nt, is regularly short: as in amandus, amant.

In this book all vowels known to be long are marked (ā, ē, etc.), and short vowels are left unmarked (a, e, etc.). Vowels marked with both signs at once (ā˘, ē˘, etc.) occur sometimes as long and sometimes as short.

Note— The Romans sometimes marked vowel length by a stroke above the letter (called an apex), as, Á; and sometimes the vowel was doubled to indicate length. An I made higher than the other letters was occasionally used for ī. But none of these devices came into general use

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