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Any thoughts on Daitz's reconstructed pronunciation ?

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Any thoughts on Daitz's reconstructed pronunciation ?

Postby muminustrollus » Tue Feb 03, 2004 10:02 am

I am listening all the time to prof. Daitz's recordings of Ancient Greek and I am completely under the spell of the powerful and highly musical sound of the language as reconstructed by that American scholar.

Do you think this reconstruction is accurate? I have read very unfavorable comments on the Web (from Greeks !) who say that Sydney Allen and Stephen Daitz relied too heavily on clues provided by the Latin transcription of Greek words. They allude to ancient coins from Asia that supposedly show a different pronunciation for the upsilon.
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Postby PeterD » Tue Feb 03, 2004 2:31 pm

There will always be disputes concerning the correct pronunciation of Ancient Greek. Alas, the ancients possessed no tape recorders. Anyway, what's a few fricatives among friends!

[face=SPIonic]Kalhme/ra[/face] (Kalimera) :wink:
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Re: Any thoughts on Daitz's reconstructed pronunciation ?

Postby Lex » Tue Feb 03, 2004 3:22 pm

muminustrollus wrote:I am listening all the time to prof. Daitz's recordings of Ancient Greek and I am completely under the spell of the powerful and highly musical sound of the language as reconstructed by that American scholar.

Do you think this reconstruction is accurate? I have read very unfavorable comments on the Web (from Greeks !) who say that Sydney Allen and Stephen Daitz relied too heavily on clues provided by the Latin transcription of Greek words. They allude to ancient coins from Asia that supposedly show a different pronunciation for the upsilon.


I have no idea if Daitz's reconstruction is accurate. All I can say is, I fervently hope not! I heard his reading of some of the Iliad, and I thought it sounded so comical I started to literally roll on the floor laughing! Have you ever seen a llama roll around on the floor, braying uncontrollably? It ain't pretty, my friends, it ain't pretty.
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!
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Postby 1%homeless » Tue Feb 03, 2004 7:48 pm

Haha. Yes, I have to turn down the my stereo so no one can hear it. I'm sure my Dad would laugh at it -and me for listening to it. Well, it's not his pronunciation that is horrible, but the "timbre" of his pronunciation. He is too whiny or overly dramatic. There are people who are less acurate than him, but still much more pleasing to listen to.

I have read very unfavorable comments on the Web (from Greeks !) who say that Sydney Allen and Stephen Daitz relied too heavily on clues provided by the Latin transcription of Greek words.


Don't trust contemporary Greeks on pronunciation! :lol: ;) For me, Sydney Allen usually does give good arguments most of the time. I don't notice Sydney Allen really relying too heavily on Latin transcriptions of Greek words. He uses evidence from ancient grammarians to good old plain comparative philology. The part that I disagree is where he subjectively suggests pronunciations. Like suggestions to use monophongs instead of long diphthongs with iota subcripts. A really controversial one is where he suggests to not really attempt pitch accent even though he knows that it exists.


Here is my favorite rendition so far:
http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/agp/
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 04, 2004 1:14 pm

I can't comment on Greek pronunciation; but I think I can on the idea that "modern greeks" would have some sort of instinct as to the correct pronunciation.

Take out a copy of Chaucer in the original and start to read it out loud. As an English speaker, do you find you have an instinctive sense of how it should go? If you come from Northern England or America and pronounce "bath" with a short "a", can you tell if that is right? If you come from Southern England and pronounce it "Barth" can you tell if that is right? Is "knight" to be pronounced "nite" or "knite" or "knaigt" or "kneegt" or "kneekt"? Of course you can't, any more than you could read Anglo-Saxon because you happen to live in Essex. There is no racial high-road to historical linguistic competence. Only an academic study of sound changes, comparative material and so forth could possible tell you how languages were pronounced, and the modern pronunciation is at most evidence -- to which an understanding of the way pronunciation changes over time has to be added. I would say that a Finnish scholar was in as good a position to carry out such a study as an English scholar: it's a matter of scholarly training not cultural predisposition.

People tend to have very subjective views. They think, for instance, that because "waynee weedee weekee" sound "silly" to them, Caesar could not have written it, and consonant u must have been pronounced v in Latin, so veni, vidi, vici can have a nice manly air to it. This is pretty harmless in a way: if you want to pronounce consonant u as "v" you will still be able to learn Latin and presumably the same applies in Greek. It's not as if you're going to find yourself embarrassed at dinner when Cicero or Tacitus or Plato can't understand your thick accent. But by any rational standards the views of scholars using comparative material and historical phonology to reconstruct pronunciation must at least be worth something -- and the subjective opinions of modern speakers of descendant languages worth, I should judge, nothing at all.
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