Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation


An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan

6 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2013: 0.658
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.626
Rank 72 out of 169 in category Linguistics in the 2013 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition
ERIH category 2011: INT1



The phonology of Classical Greek meter

1Correspondence address: Chris Golston, Department of Linguistics, California State University Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740, USA.

2Correspondence address: Tomas Riad, Department of Scandinavian Languages, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden.

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 38, Issue 1, Pages 99–167, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling.38.1.191, February 2008

Publication History

Published Online:


We propose an analysis of Greek meter based purely on phonology and the idea that well-formedness in meter is largely gradient, rather than absolute. Our analysis is surface-true, constraint-based and nonderivational, in line with proposals like optimality theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993). The discussion centers on two properties of meter, rhythm (dactylic, anapestic, iambic …) and line length (hexameter, pentameter, tetrameter …). Unmarked meters are expected to be binary (dimeter) and rhythmic (no clash or lapse). We analyze individual meters in terms of how they deviate from this unmarked state, where deviations (big and small) are encoded directly as constraint violations following Golston (1996). Greek anapests are shown to be unmarked in terms of rhythm, while dactyls distinctively violate the constraint NOCLASH and iambs distinctively violate NOLAPSE. Similarly, dimeter is unmarked in terms of binarity, while trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, and hexameter violate constraints on binarity.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.