Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics

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Syllable Weight
(734 words)


The grammatical weight (heavy or light) or length (long or short) of a syllable is crucial in poetic meter, accentuation, word minima, and a number of phonological processes.

Like a great many languages, Ancient Greek distinguished two types of syllable, heavy and light (also called long and short). A light syllable in any language is one that ends in a single short vowel: be, pa, tro, i. All other syllables are heavy, i.e., those with long vowels, diphthongs, or final consonants: bē, pai, tron, iks. Like modern French, a word-final c…

Cite this page
Chris Golston, “Syllable Weight”, in: Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, General Editor: Georgios K. Giannakis. Consulted online on 26 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2214-448X_eagll_SIM_000031>
First published online: 2013

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