Spiritus lenis

Spiritus lenis

The spiritus lenis (Latin for "smooth breathing"; _el. ψιλὸν πνεῦμα "psilòn pneûma" or ψιλή "psilī́") is a diacritical mark used in the polytonic orthography. In ancient Greek, it indicates the lack of initial aspiration, or the absence of the voiceless glottal fricative (IPA|/h/) from the beginning of a word. Some authorities have interpreted it as representing a glottal stop, but a final vowel at the end of a word is regularly elided (shortened) where the following word starts with a vowel. Spiritus lenis would not happen if the second word began with a glottal stop (or any form of stop consonant). In his "Vox Graeca", W. Sidney Allen accordingly regards the glottal stop interpretation as "highly improbable". [cite book|author=W. Sidney Allen|title= Vox Graeca: A Guide to the Pronunciation of Classical Greek|publisher=Cambridge University Press|year=1968-74|id=ISBN 0-521-20626-X]

The spiritus lenis ( ᾿ ) is written as on top of, or to the left of, an initial vowel (the second vowel of a pair comprising a diphthong), and also in certain editions on the first of a pair of rhos. It did not occur on an initial upsilon.

The spiritus lenis was kept in the traditional polytonic orthography even after the /h/ sound had disappeared from the language in Hellenistic times. It has been dropped in the modern monotonic orthography.

The origin of the sign is thought to be the right-hand half– ┤ –of the letter H, which was used in some Greek dialects as an [h] while in others it was used for the vowel eta. In medieval and modern script, it takes the form of a closing half moon (reverse C) or a closing single quotation mark:


Psila pneumata were also used in the early Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets when writing the Old Church Slavonic language. Today it is used in Church Slavonic according to a simple rule: if a word starts with a vowel, the vowel has a psili over it. From the Russian writing system, it was eliminated by Peter the Great during his alphabet and font-style reform (1707). All other Cyrillic-based modern writing systems are based on the Petrine script, so they have never had the psili.

In Unicode, the code points assigned to the spiritus lenis are U+1FBF ( unicode|᾿ ) for Greek and U+0486 ( script|Cyrs|◌҆ ) for Cyrillic.

See also

* Unicode|ʾ
* Spiritus asper
* Polytonic orthography


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spiritus lenis — Der Spiritus lenis (lateinisch für leichter Hauch; altgriechisch: ἡ ψιλή (hē psilé, die Leichte), neugriechisch η ψιλή (Aussprache: i psilí) bezeichnet den vokalischen Anlaut im Gegensatz zum Spiritus asper, der als [h] gesprochen wurde. Die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Spiritus lenis — Spi|ri|tus le|nis [ sp...], der; , lenes [...e:s; lat. spiritus lenis, zu: lenis = mild] (Sprachw.): Zeichen ( ) für das Fehlen des h Anlauts im Altgriechischen …   Universal-Lexikon

  • spiritus lenis — Breathing Breath ing, n. 1. Respiration; the act of inhaling and exhaling air. [1913 Webster] Subject to a difficulty of breathing. Melmoth. [1913 Webster] 2. Air in gentle motion. [1913 Webster] 3. Any gentle influence or operation; inspiration; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spiritus lenis — /spir i teuhs lee nis/; Lat. /spee rddi toos lay nis/. See smooth breathing. [ < LL spiritus lenis] * * * …   Universalium

  • spiritus lenis — noun A diacritic mark in Ancient Greek used to indicate absence of aspiration for an initial vowel, and sometimes for a rho. The spiritus lenis mark looks like a closing single quote. Syn: psilon pneuma, psilí …   Wiktionary

  • spiritus lenis — ˈlānə̇s, ˈlen , ˈlēn noun Etymology: Late Latin : smooth breathing * * * /spir i teuhs lee nis/; Lat. /spee rddi toos lay nis/. See smooth breathing. [ < LL spiritus lenis] …   Useful english dictionary

  • spiritus lenis — (придыхание II, придыхание густое и тонкое, спиритус аспер, спиритус ленис | spiritus asper, lenis) Ток воздуха – энергичный или слабый, – сопровождающий произношение смычного (немого) согласного; это придыхание лежит в основе античной… …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • spiritus lenis — /spɪrətəs ˈleɪnəs/ (say spiruhtuhs laynuhs) noun → smooth breathing. {Latin} …   Australian English dictionary

  • spiritus — spìritus m DEFINICIJA 1. lingv. znak u obliku apostrofa što se u grčkom jeziku bilježi iznad vokala na početku riječi 2. duh, duša SINTAGMA spiritus agens (izg. spȋritus ȁgens) usp. spiritus movens; spiritus asper (izg. spȋritus ȁsper) »oštri… …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Spiritus asper — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El spiritus asper (en latín «aliento difícil»; en griego δασὺ πνεῦμα dasỳ pneûma o δασεῖα daseîa), es un signo diacrítico usado en la ortografía politónica del griego antiguo. En la Antigua Grecia indicaba la… …   Wikipedia Español

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