Ancient Greek pronunciation

Nikolaos

schmikolaos
Staff member
I was referred to the recording on this page for the classical pronunciation of ancient Greek. Does this pronunciation sound correct to you? The speaker's epsilon and iota sounded identical to me, and the omicron in the example words sounded a lot like a Latin U, but that may be the doing of my poor quality headphones.

I have read a lot of conflicting claims on how the language was pronounced, and would like to know your opinions.

Finally, and incidentally, is there a word meaning "one who speaks/studies Greek", as there is for Latin (i.e., "Latinist")? The closest thing that I can think of is "Graecophone", but that would imply not only fluency but even nativity.

Edit - "Atticist" may work, but it could hardly apply to someone who studies more than Attic Greek.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
I think the short alpha is too long
I also don't think that a iota subscript should be pronounced
he pronounces the epsilon like /i/
epsilon + iota is /ei/ afaik, like in Engl. way
zeta should be /dz/
the omicron may still be ok, but it could be more o-ish indeed
his short upsilon sounds long to me
I usually pronounce ui like /ui/, but I don't know if that's actually right

We're not really able to reconstruct the quality of most vowels, so we can only strive for approximation. For this purpose, I think this guideline is ok.
The only things I really consider to be wrong are the pronunciation of iota subscript and zeta. iota subscript should just be ignored, zeta is /dz/

Nikolaos dixit:
Finally, and incidentally, is there a word meaning "one who speaks/studies Greek", as there is for Latin (i.e., "Latinist")?
Graecist or Hellenist
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
W. S. Allen in his Vox Graeca (yes, he has written a manual of Greek pronunciation as well! :D) argues for ζ [zd], ει [e:], and somewhat messes the things about iota subscript. In the Assimil course « Le grec ancien sans peine » (it contains tons of audio, as one may guess) the above mentioned pronunciation is adopted; they pronounce iota subscript, too, describing it as a ‘light’ sound.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Quasus dixit:
W. S. Allen in his Vox Graeca (yes, he has written a manual of Greek pronunciation as well! :D) argues for ζ [zd]
I really think that's a lot of nonsense

ει [e:]
some dialects pronounce a monophthong there
Sappho has "phainetai moi k[e-long:37zawy0d][/e-long:37zawy0d]nos" where Attic would have "keinos"
I don't see why Attic would indicate a diphthong in orthography (or why Latin would transcribe it as a diphthong) when it might just as well indicate a monophthong like other dialects do. To be precise, though, this topic sould be called "Ancient Attic pronunciation" :>

they pronounce iota subscript, too, describing it as a ‘light’ sound.
That's like pronouncing the h in "honour". The iota subscript is merely etymological as far as I know ... but then again, I'm not an Hellenist
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Sorry, I forgot to specify that the Attic dialect of 5th century BC is at issue.

Bitmap dixit:
Quasus dixit:
W. S. Allen in his Vox Graeca (yes, he has written a manual of Greek pronunciation as well! :D) argues for ζ [zd]
I really think that's a lot of nonsense
I hope you have at least read his reasoning before rejecting the conclusion. ;) Which of his arguments seems foolish to you?

I don’t defend any viewpoint myself, I’m just sharing information.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Quasus dixit:
I hope you have at least read his reasoning before rejecting the conclusion. ;)
your link lead to a Russian site and I'm so unfortunate as not to speak any Russian. My argumentation is mainly founded on the fact that I think /zd/ sounds stupid :p (which is a claim I found well-supported by the stupid-sounding audio sample :>)
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Bitmap dixit:
Quasus dixit:
your link lead to a Russian site and I'm so unfortunate as not to speak any Russian.
non enim oportet habeas sermonem cum computatrio. :banana: quin immo, anglice monetur ut numeros quosdam inscribas ad filum accipiendum. ecce ligamen alterum
http://rapidshare.com/files/452420045/Vox_Graeca.pdf
nescio qua de causa non contigat mihi hodie ut more mea in depositfiles onerem.

Bitmap dixit:
My argumentation is mainly founded on the fact that I think /zd/ sounds stupid
non habeo quod respondeam! :chick:
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Bitmap dixit:
Quasus dixit:
W. S. Allen in his Vox Graeca (yes, he has written a manual of Greek pronunciation as well! :D) argues for ζ [zd]
I really think that's a lot of nonsense
I've seen good arguments either way. It certainly must have originally developed as s+d (at least in most positions, e.g. ἵζω > sis-dō, cf. Latin sīdō). There's no real reason to think, though, that one pronunciation must necessarily have prevailed for all time and in every dialect. Switching between the two would be easy enough via metathesis, I imagine.

Bitmap dixit:
ει [e:]
some dialects pronounce a monophthong there
Sappho has "phainetai moi k[e-long:3kqi5605][/e-long:3kqi5605]nos" where Attic would have "keinos"
I don't see why Attic would indicate a diphthong in orthography (or why Latin would transcribe it as a diphthong) when it might just as well indicate a monophthong like other dialects do. To be precise, though, this topic sould be called "Ancient Attic pronunciation" :>
But it's regularly transcribed as ī (and ē in certain positions) in Latin, isn't it? Likewise ου is always transcribed ū. This suggests that by the time the Romans started borrowing/transcribing Greek words into the Latin alphabet, these two diphthongs had either entirely monophthongized or were simply too subtle for the Romans to reproduce in their own language. As to why they'd continue to write a monophthong that had developed from a diphthong as a diphthong, I suppose it's just a matter orthography. If I recall correctly, Allen argues that ει, though a monophthong even in classical Athens, had a different quality from η anyway, so there was no impetus for an ει > η merger in writing.

Bitmap dixit:
they pronounce iota subscript, too, describing it as a ‘light’ sound.
That's like pronouncing the h in "honour". The iota subscript is merely etymological as far as I know ... but then again, I'm not an Hellenist
Most scholars assume it was pronounced in fifth century Athens, to say nothing of Homer. By the Roman era, however, it was either extremely faint or had disappeared altogether, as borrowings like melōdia for μελῳδία prove. It wasn't written as a subscript in Greek before the Byzantine era.
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos
Staff member
I've determined that I can't* learn Greek as a silent language, and yet the audio resources that I have found are wholly insufficient.

Do any of you know of a decent audio resource for Attic Greek? I found a podcast called "AudioGreek" or something like that, but was put off when I heard Φ pronounced as an F.

*That is, it cannot hold my interest if I can't at least read aloud or imagine how it sounds.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
I got throught half of Assimil’s « Le grec ancien ». I’d say the audio is quite decent, and of course there are tons of it.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Nikolaos dixit:
I've determined that I can't* learn Greek as a silent language, and yet the audio resources that I have found are wholly insufficient.

Do any of you know of a decent audio resource for Attic Greek? I found a podcast called "AudioGreek" or something like that, but was put off when I heard Φ pronounced as an F.
I tried to learn Greek vocabulary auditively for some time, but I had problems distinguishing pi-phi, kappa-chi and tau-theta when I pronounced all of them as plosives, so I simply pronounced phi, chi, theta as fricatives. not the most authentic approach, but it helped. I can't say I genuinely cared to sound like Plato :)
 
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