The ‘Law of Limitation’ refers to a phonological process that limits how far from the end of a word an accent may be located: if the word-final syllable is light, the accent may be located as far from the end of the word as the antepenult, e.g. εὑρήματα[heu̯ rέːmata] ‘discoveries (nom./acc. neuter plural)’, ἐβούλευε [ebóːleu̯ u̯ e] ‘(s)he was deliberating (impf. 3 sg.)’; if the word-final syllable is heavy, the accent may be located as far from word-end as the penult, e.g. εὑρημάτων [heu̯ rεːmátɔːn] ‘discoveries (gen. n. pl.)’, βουλεύω [boːléu̯ u̯ ɔː] ‘I am deliberating (pres. 1 sg.)’ (Göttling 1835:21–28; Steriade 1988:273–275). For the Law of Limitation, a single word-final consonant does not affect weight. Final syllables ending in a short vowel (-V#) and those ending in a short vowel followed by a single consonant (-VC#) both count as light, e.g. βασίλεια [basílei̯ i̯ a] ‘queen (nom. sg.)’, βασίλειαν [basílei̯ i̯ an] ‘queen (acc.)’. All other syllable rhymes count as heavy, e.g. -VCC# in ἀστύτριψ [astútrips] ‘always living in the city’. Wordfinal diphthongs pose a slight complication. As for the Sotera Rule, word-final -οι [-oi̯ ] and -αι [- ai̯ ] are treated as light rhymes in -VC#, e.g. φιλόσοφοι [philósophoi̯ ] ‘philosophers’ like φιλόσοφος [philósophos] ‘philosopher’, βασίλειαι [basílei̯ i̯ ai̯ ] ‘queens (nom. pl.)’ like βασίλειαν [basílei̯ i̯ an], with the exception of 3 sg. opt. act. -οι [-oi̯ ] and -αι [-ai̯ ], which are treated together with all other word-final long vowels and diphthongs as heavy -VV# rhymes, e.g. παιδεύοι [pai̯ déu̯ u̯ oi̯ ], παιδεύσαι [paidéu̯ sai̯ ] like παιδεύω [pai̯ déu̯ u̯ ɔː] ‘I am educating’. Note that the -οι [- oi̯ ] of locatival adverbs such as οἴκοι [ói̯ koi̯ ] ‘at home’ are also treated as -VV# rhymes, but the evidence comes from the non-application of the Sotera Rule, not the Law of Limitation.

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© 2014 Brill. This encyclopedia chapter first appeared in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, edited by Georgios K. Giannakis, et al, 323-325, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

The definitive version is available at: Brill.

Full citation:

Gunkel, Dieter. "Law of Limitation." In Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics Vol 2, edited by Georgios K. Giannakis et al, 323-325. Leiden: Brill, 2014.