This chapter is concerned with some aspects of the evolution of prosody from Latin to Romance: prosody, specifically, is considered from the viewpoint of its effects at the segmental level. Thus, we do not deal with purely prosodic phenomena, such as intonation, but with the interplay between prosodic categories/domains, on the one hand, and segmental entities and processes, on the other, paying special attention to processes crucial to the transformation of Latin into Romance, and their reconstruction.
Vowel length, quantity and stress in Latin
To discuss the development of stress/accent from Latin to Romance we must address:
(1) a. the phonetic implementation of prosodic (stress/accent) prominence;
b. the phonological vs. morpho-lexical conditioning of stress placement;
c. the position of stress (viz. its persistence vs. shift) from Latin to Romance;
d. the domain of stress assignment.
(1a) is a much-debated issue touched upon for Latin in §3.1 and for Romance in §6. Our main concern will be (1b–d). It is uncontroversial that:
(2) a. Latin stress was quantity-sensitive: in polysyllabic words of more than two syllables, it fell on a heavy (i.e., bimoraic) penult, otherwise on the antepenultimate (see the representations in (3));
b. no Romance language has retained the Latin stress rule as such, due to the collapse of distinctive vowel quantity;
c. nevertheless, exceptions aside, the stressed vowel of a Latin word remains the stressed vowel of its Romance continuant.