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Origin of the term liquid ..

from John Wells, Phonetics & Linguistics, UCL <wells@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:

The origin of the term 'liquid' is a Latin (mis)translation of a Greek technical term. The Greek grammarians used _hygros_ 'fluid' for r, l, n, m, in reference to the fact that when they follow a plosive (as in tr) they permit the quantity of the preceding syllable containing a short vowel to be "doubtful" (ie it can count as either short or long for metric purposes, as in Greek _patros_, Latin _patris_). This term was translated into Latin as _liquidus_. In Latin, however, this metric principle does not apply to m and n, so the term 'liquid' has come to have a more restricted sense.

See Allen, W.S., 1965, Vox Latina: a guide to the pronunciation of Classical Latin, CUP, p. 32.


Stuart Rosen, PhD
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