Using new corpus resources for Rigvedic poetics, we address various aspects of the poets' treatment of vowel hiatus and pre-vocalic shortening (correption), including their strategies for avoidance of these phenomena in certain contexts. Using observed vs. expected tests, we demonstrate, for one, that hiatus avoidance is correlated with degree of metrical-prosodic juncture. For example, hiatus is actively avoided both at the caesura in trimeter verse and between padãs, but its avoidance is weaker in the latter case. In conducting these tests, we control for a confound (interference) from pre-vocalic shortening, which requires us to address the problem of whether it was optional or obligatory within the hemistich. It turns out that /V̄1#V22 patterns as metrically heavier than /Ṽ1#V2/ in the aggregated, though not as heave as /V̄C#V/. We then discuss different means by which the poets avoid setting up underlying hiatus junctures, including lexical avoidance (i.e., word selection), morphological avoidance (i.e., allomorph selection), and syntactic avoidance (i.e., word reordering). This last technique, whose existence we support with two different rests, is particularly striking, in that syntax (word order) is shown to be sensitive to phonotactics (marked junctures).
Copyright © 2011 Hempen. This proceeding first appeared in Proceedings of the 22nd Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference.
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Gunkel, Dieter C., and Kevin Ryan. "Hiatus Avoidance and Metrification in the Rigveda." In Proceedings of the 22nd Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, edited by Stephanie W. Jamison, H. Craig Melchert, and Brent Vine, 53-68. Bremen: Hempen, 2011.