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syllaba anceps




Latin: syllaba (syllable) + anceps (double-headed, uncertain)



syllaba anceps (plural syllabae ancipites)

  1. (prosody) A syllable of unfixed or undecided weight.
    • 1908, Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt [eds.], The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (Egypt Exploration Fund), volume 5, issues 840–844, page 17
      Syllabae ancipites at the ends of lines are […]
    • ante 1971, Arthur E. Gordon, The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet (1973, University of California Press, →ISBN; volume 9 of University of California Publications: Classical Studies), part VI: “Conclusions”, § 1: ‘The Ancient Evidence’, page 51
      The name of L constitutes one syllable, but its position at the end of the (dactylic-hexameter) line makes it a syllaba anceps, either long or short, and any one of three interpretations seems possible: el (with the preceding word, geminat, having a long final syllable, the A retaining its original length, as we find in even later poets), or le (with Strzelecki, the E being long or short), or ll (with Marx), i.e., sonant/syllabic l (as others put it).