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In Living Koine Greek Forum
Philemon Zachariou on Pronunciation
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
Sep 06, 2020
Just finished the book - so thought I would share my thoughts. This is a forceful and closely agued case for the use of historical Greek pronunciation (HGP) for κοινὴ Greek. Though I must admit, I struggle to see any differences between this HGP and Neohellenic (Modern Greek) pronunciation. There is quite an overlap with Chrys Caragounis’ lines of reasoning (The-Development-of-Greek-and-the-New-Testament). The thesis presented here is that Greek pronunciation has remined essentially unchanged since classical Attic. That there is a longer continuity with the 5 vowels of current Greek going back as far as Linear B. He proposes a psilotic Attic Greek, fully ioticised – as today. He also furnishes arguments for HGP (modern) Greek pronunciation and orthography going back at least as far as the introduction of the Ionic spelling reforms of 5th Century BC Athens. On the plus side, this is an impassioned argument for the Neohellenic pronunciation with a clear history of the introduction of the Erasmian pronunciation system and a forensic refutation of many of the reasons given in support of the continued use of Erasmian pronunciation. Particular highlights were chapter 4’s demonstration of the inconsistencies in textbook recommendations for US Erasmian pronunciation and also chapter 5’s long list of the multiple English graphemes for homophones to reject the idea that the modern Greek pronunciation would be too difficult for English speaking students. The section on prosody (often ignored) was also very useful. The suggestion to include Neohellenic and medieval usage in lexica of κοινὴ Greek to have a fully diachronic approach seems reasonable. On the negative side, there are a number of inaccuracies, these range from errors such as referring to “Chaucer’s Anglo Saxon” (p xvii), presenting theories such as the Doric invasion as a proven fact and somewhat out of place political statements like the “heroic Greek struggle to throw off the Turkish yoke” (p 77). Though not central to the arguments on pronunciation, these inaccuracies make me wary of facts described elsewhere at face value. More concerning where I have checked references there are also problems. For example, there is a partial quote in 2.2.2 (page 20) from Plato’s Kratylos (418c): the partial quote in the book is used to support the sounds of η=ι=ει. However, on checking the full quote (Perseus) , it seems to me to clearly to support the opposite conclusion and refer to sounds in speech and not to spelling. There are also omissions such as not discussing to Hebrew/Greek transliteration nor changes in Greek Grammar/vocabulary diachronically, nor geographic variation or effect on pronunciation of other languages such as Coptic or Aramaic. He also does not mention Randall Buth or a κοινὴ pronunciation, but chooses instead to present a dichotomy between Erasmian and HGP. In general, I find many of the arguments for HGP going back as far as 5th Century BC Athens unconvincing. For example, Zachariou assumes that if there is a spelling switch between η, ι, ει, οι or υ in 5th C inscriptions then this counts as evidence for all these letters being pronounced as [i] from that time onwards. This effectively assumes as soon as you find the first example of an interchange of graphemes in a misspelling then that is when those phonemes began to be pronounced identically. There a need for better quantitative analysis of orthography that takes into account probability of an error, phonetic environment and geographic effects. I also remain unconvinced on the arguments about historical (pre-classical Greek), such as the linear B script being good evidence for only 5 vowels existed in Mycenean Greek or that the “ε” grapheme in the Attic alphabet pre-ionic reform represented both the [i] and [e] phonemes. Though I do not know enough on these subjects and would need input from others to comment more on this. Overall, though challenging, this book has not really changed how I think of κοινὴ pronunciation. I still consider it best to pronounce κοινὴ as modern Greek except where there are compelling reasons in Grammar, vocabulary, clear historical evidence or pedagogy not to. The most obvious example being modern pronunciation not tolerating identical pronunciation of υμεις and ημεις rather than εσεις and εμεις – this has already been discussed extensively in these forums (questions-on-pronunciation-in-relation-to-modern-greek) – so I would not pronounce “η” as [i]. A separate (non [i]) pronunciation of the οι/υ phoneme also seems reasonable. I remain undecided about Psilosis, ω/o, or Χ, φ, θ as fricatives or aspirated stops. But actually, just as all languages have different accents and pronunciations – it’s good that a historically informed κοινὴ has different accents. Having said all that, I must admit I will be listening to my modern Greek course again and considering my next holiday in Greece to practice my Neohellenic.
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Questions on pronunciation in relation to Modern Greek....
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
Jul 14, 2019
@Diachronix Thanks for the reply and very interesting -. I looked at the letter quoted in Horrocks on Page 186 it is https://www.trismegistos.org/tm/detail.php?tex_id=32908&text_diacritics=1&text_linebreaks=1#information - it is quite a sweet non-litrerary nor official letter that looks like it was written to family, from a Judeo-Christian writer (non-pagan). There are multiple unconventional spellings - unfortunately it is not possible to see the original images. With regards to the understanding of New Testament passages that are impossible to understand with Modern Greek pronunciation - I find it difficult of ten to decide from my point of view to always decide which would be understood - given the context of the sentence - but was thinking of possible examples Eph. 5:2 καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. or 1Th. 5:9 ὅτι οὐκ ἔθετο ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς εἰς ὀργὴν ἀλλ᾿ εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ or 1Th. 3:5 διὰ τοῦτο κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων ἔπεμψα εἰς τὸ γνῶναι τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν, μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων καὶ εἰς κενὸν γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν. but I am sure there are better examples.. The debate comparing methods of pronunciation - there was a debate at the SBL in November 2011 between Daniel Wallace (Erasmian), Randall Buth (Living koine) and Michael P. Theophilos (Modern greek) https://greeklanguageandlinguistics.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/schedule-for-open-session-thematic-session-on-discourse-markers-and-joint-session-on-greek-phonology-and-pronunciation/ - I can't find a transcript or abstract online - the only summary I can find is here https://danielstreett.com/2011/12/01/the-great-greek-pronunciation-debate-sbl-2011-report-pt-3/ In the end - I think you're right the specific issue of ionisation and he use of the ημεις/ εμεις and υμεις/ εσεις pairs - this is likely to have taken place at different times in different locations. We have relatively few tools to look at this in detail. Though IMO this was mainly in the Byzantine era. Overall - I quite like there being different pronunciations - so long as you can understand them. Much as there are different Spanish, English or German accents. The most important thing is we can listen to and talk to each other in Koine Greek in whichever pronunciations work.
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Questions on pronunciation in relation to Modern Greek....
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
Jul 09, 2019
Diachronix and Ben A bit late to this strand but really enjoyed it – so I wanted to comment. First to say that it seems great that there are different pronunciations of koine Greek. As there was geographical in pronunciation in the Roman era- it seems appropriate to have different pronunciations now. With regards to the shift in pronunciation of ἡμείς vs ὑμείς – I think I agree more with Ben about the lateness of the phonemic change to make these two homophones. I have reread the section of Horrocks referred to by diachronic and looked at the example quoted in Horrrocks 4.11. This is UPZ 1 70– I have copied the appropriate section below – (note I cant access an image of this papyrus – so I am relying on the transcript on papyri.info - identical to that quoted in Horrocks) “ὅτι ψεύδηι πάντα καὶ οἱ παρὰ σὲ(*)θεοὶ ὁμοίως, ὅτι ἐνβέβληκαν ὑμᾶς(*) εἰς ὕληνμεγάλην(*) καὶ οὗ δυνάμεθα ἀποθανεῖν..” I can see that the modern editor assumed that ὑμᾶς should agree with δυνάμεθα and so decided ἡμᾶς should be preferred and not ὑμᾶς. I am not sure this assumption necessarily follows either grammatically or logically. I am thinking about Laurel and Hardy and “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into. It mat be that a number r of these reported interchanges between ἡμείς vs ὑμείς are based on subjective editorial decisions. To check Horrocks' comment about the frequency of η/υ interchanges - I have Consulted the Trismegistos text irregularities page (https://www.trismegistos.org/textirregularities/texirr_search.php) - for methodologies see [1] This search gives a total of 131,348 corrections made in the transcription of manuscripts by modern editors – of these I have tabulated the following specific changes in interchanges between letters As you can seen there were only 689 η/υ interchanges - compared with over 29,000 ει/ι interchanges, over 10,000 ο /ω interchanges and around 5,000 ε/αι o interchanges. In fact, the number of η/υ interchanges are comparable to those of ο/ε and α/ο are still distinct phonemes in modern Greek. These data strongly suggest that η/υ were distinct phonemes until the middle/ late Byzantine period – at least in the Egyptian papyri. It will be very interesting to see Ben’s results from his analysis of the Greek inscriptions/papyri from Judea. It is difficult for me to see δέδωκεν ὑμῖν and δέδωκεν ἡμῖν can be differentiated if η/υsound identical without considerably more complex sentences to ensure the difference in meaning is clear. My feeling is this complexity would cause a very quick shift in the use of the ημεις/ εμεις and υμεις/ εσεις pairs. This is in keeping with the relatively few interchanges in the η/υ graphemes in Egyptian papyri and would point to a mid/late Byzantine date for the of both phoneme and spelling of ημεις/ εμεις and υμεις/ εσεις. In addition to teaching a spoken koine , which may be difficult with η/υ pronounced identically as [i] makes this the one pronunciation that modern Greek is not well suited for. Though in the end this a matter of taste as there are many people using modern Greek pronunciation fo rate study of Ancient Greek. 1. Depauw, M. and J. Stolk, Linguistic Variation in Greek Papyri: Towards a New Tool for Quantitative Study.Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies, 2015. 55(1): p. 196-220.
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Rough Breathing in Living Koine
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
May 07, 2019
Been following this and very interested for a while. It seems there was a variation over time with loss of the spiritus asper /h/and conversion of the voiceless aspirated stops φ, θ and χ from /ph/, /th/ and /kh/ to fricatives /f/, /θ/ and /x/ finally ending in the modern Greek pronunciation. There also seems to have been geographic variation if Aristophanes writing of Laconian dialect is right. It would appear fair to me that in the first century there was variation in pronunciation across the Greek speaking world and it seems reasonable to use either with or without spiritus asper and voiceless aspirated stops or fricatives. I can see a lot of pedagogic advantages in teaching the modern Greek pronunciation for a number of reasons. Such as ease of pronunciation, ease of teaching and similarity to modern Greek. However, my question is as follows – were the aspects of the loss of aspiration all a part of one process? The loss of rough breathing occurring at the same time as the switch from voiceless aspirated stops to fricatives? If so, should we ONLY pronounce in two ways:- 1) No spiritus asper and φ, θ and χ as /f/, /θ/ and /x/. OR 2) With spiritus asper and φ, θ and χ as /ph/, /th/ and /kh/ (This is in contrast to the Erasmian pronunciation.) Do you think this is right? or can we separate these phonological processes? --- -- I must to preferring option (2) - though I do find pronouncing voiceless stops π, τ, κ at the beginning of a word quite tricky as a English speaker to differentiate between π/φ,τ/θ and κ/χ quite tricky. Teaching this distinction to a class could be even more of a challenge.
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Pronunciation of εὐαγγελίου?
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
Mar 23, 2019
This is also how it is pronounced in Modern Greek and where we in English get the word "evangelist". Originally in Greece - before 200-500 BC this would have been εὐαγγελίου ( eeyoo-an-ge-lee-yu), but as Ben says above it had changed by the time Mark was written to (e-van-ge-lee-yu). Things only changed outside Greece in Western Europe in 1528 when Desiderius Erasmus published a book "De recta Latini Graecique sermonis pronuntiatione" , This outlined a new Greek pronunciation in the form of a dialogue between bear and a lion as to how to properly educate the lion's cubs. This Erasmian pronunciation system is more similar to that spoken in 5th Century BC Athens and not to that in 1st century Palestine. It has even been suggested that this whole dialogue was written by Erasmus as a joke. In any case this is the system that was adopted outside Greece for ancient Greece since then and the one taught in most other places. If you want further details either you could try Randall Buth's publication (https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Greek_Pronunciation_2008.pdf) though this can be a little technical. I would also suggest Chapter 9 of Constantine Campbell's book "Advances in the Study of Greek" Zondervan 2015 (p182-184)(https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/advances-in-the-study-of-greek/id949574182?mt=11). There is a fair amount more if you search for "koine era pronunciation" in your search engine. Most text book use Erasmian pronunciation - though a couple of the newer books such as those by Rodney Decker or Frederick Long either mention or use Koine Era Pronunciation. It is interesting to me the different pronunciation in English of the "ευ" from greek - looking at the words "eucharist" and "evangelist" the root of these words ευ is the same - but they are pronounced differently. Suspect this is because the word "evangelist" came to old English through Latin then Old French, but in contrast "eucharist" came to English after 1528.
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κενός and καινός
In Living Koine Greek Forum
timplanche
Mar 18, 2019
Thanks for the reply and your time - liked the reference from John Philoponus and also a pun with a point in [fə-ˈne-tik nəʊˈteɪʃ(ə)n] ! Just to push this discussion a little further – I think the course of the changes for the αι grapheme seem to be well laid out by Horrocks [1] - simplistically, starting from the 6th Century BC to 6h Century AD the pronunciation of the αι grapheme is initially monophthongised then, along with the switch from pitch accent to primary stress accent, drifts from /æ/ to /ε(:)/ to /e(:)/. I guess my questions are how far along phonetic process was when the authors of the New Testament were writing. I have been particularly thinking of the work of Depauw and Stolk [2]and their analysis of the Papyrological Navigator database for the frequency of ε/αι interchangebetween 300 B.C. to A.D. 800. This seems to show a two phase pattern of increased interchanges of ε/αι in the papyri (Graph 2, p 208) – with peak interchanges happening in the 4th Century AD. They postulate the two phase pattern possibly relates to an initial monophthongisation of αι then subsequent phonological changes. This to me implies that ε/αι graphemes had not yet become completely homophonous in the 1st Century. I was also wondering about analysing lexeme use over time - for the reason that, as you point out:- “If phonological changes result in confusing semantics in some contexts, the language usually shifts its pragmatic usage or innovates new forms depending on how large the contexts for confusion are.” This would imply a couple of things · If users are not making any attempts to modify the pragmatic usage of language to avoid confusing semantics produced by he phonological changes to homophonous pronunciation – then these changes probably have not yet happened and thus the graphemes were still being pronounced differently . For example, in the context of a reading to a 1st or 2nd Century audience of listeners, it is difficult to see how the language usage clarifies a potential semantic confusion due identical pronunciation in the following examples (to name a few). John 13:34 Ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν……. James 2:20 Θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ……… This would imply, to me, that ε and αι are likely to be phonologically different in the 1st/2nd Century. Is it possible to use an analysis of the lexeme use over time that become homophones after a phonological shift to decide on when the phonological change happened? The most obvious example of this to me is the use of the ημεις/ εμεις and υμεις/ εσεις pairs. This lexical change seems to happen in the early/ middle Byzantine period [3] this implies υ and η were distinct phonemes before this time. I have been looking at Papyrological Navigator and thePerseus Digital Library to count the frequency of καινός and νέος over time. Though this is taking a little more time and is a wee bit more complicated than I had initially hoped – but does look as though καινός is being used in the sense of “New” in the 4th and 5th Century. κενὸς is also being used in this period. My specific questions to you all would be:- Would the graphemes ε and αι been pronounced distinctly (though similarly) in the 1st / 2nd Centuries A.D. at least in some circumstances? Does analysing the use of lexemes that become homophones to determine the timing of phonological shifts look like a fruitful line of analysis? Particularly in the case of ε/αι. Thanks again in advance – for your time reading this and any replies and opinions gratefully received. 1. Horrocks, G., Spoken Koine in the Roman Period, in Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers. 2014, Wiley-Blackwell. p. 161-162. 2. Depauw, M. and J. Stolk, Linguistic Variation in Greek Papyri: Towards a New Tool for Quantitative Study.Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies, 2015. 55(1): p. 196-220. 3. Horrocks, G., Spoken Greek in the Byzantine Empire, in Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers. 2014, Wiley-Blackwell. p. 296.
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