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Pauses in Greek speech

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Pauses in Greek speech

Postby jeidsath » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:43 pm

There is a 1991 paper by Stephen Daitz that makes the case that one should not pause in reading Homer (except for line breaks): http://www.jstor.org/stable/294714

I've had a lot of problems figuring out where the pauses go with words like δε or οτι or γε, etc. I have tried to emphasize them all with appropriate pauses, like I do in English, and I've run into many difficulties. A solution that works for one sentence doesn't work for another, etc.

A possible answer has appeared, however, as I've added Japanese into my listening rotation during the past couple of days. It has been hard going. I thought that I knew more of the language than I did, apparently.** But one thing++ that really struck me about listening to Japanese audiobooks: There aren't any emphasis pauses! It's not at all like German or English in word flow. So following Daitz (and others), here is my attempt at reading Mark 2:1-12 without pauses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meXoxEsZwpM

** The recording of the Bible that I found is great, however. The demons all speak like Yakuza: "Oretachi...". The leper comes up to Jesus with perfect Japanese lowliness: "Onegaishimasu..." It's like it's some Samurai version of the Bible.

++ I also noticed the Japanese pitch patterns, which are far beyond my capability to imitate in either Greek or Japanese.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Pauses in Greek speech

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:07 pm

I haven't properly looked into this, but I wonder if your assumptions about pauses are really correct even for English. A pause in sense doesn't necessarily mean that there needs to be a pause in actual delivery. Actually, as far as I understand, in actual speech there is (most of the time) no such thing as pauses between words – look how small children write, or how the ancient Greek did, for that matter –phonetically by running all words together. It's the thanks to word accent that we are able to make out individual words when someone speaks to us – and it's because foreigners who have studied a language with little exposure to native speech get their accents wrong that we have difficulties in understanding them. A word is a series of sounds with a recognizable accent pattern, and it's that accent pattern that allows us to distinguish a word in the middle of a larger series of connected sounds (phrase, sentence, whatever).

As for δε, γε etc. you're not supposed to emphasize them! They are enclitic particles, which simply means that prosodically they belong to the preceding word – they just add one more syllable to the preceding word and become part of the accentual pattern of that word. They (or at least γε) are called emphatic particles because they add emphasis, but I strongly suspect that their mere presence, without any added emphasis in pronunciation, is enough to bring said emphasis. (Things might be different with really strong particles like δη, which isn't postpositive anyway but an individual word – that one you might really pronounce with some emphasis.) So if you run into something like ἔλποιτό γε, you're supposed to pronounce it like one word, nothing more – no extra pauses; the trouble is that we don't really know what "pronounce it like one word" exactly means.

Finnish relies strongly on enclitic particles, to mark questions, emphasis, subjective impressions etc. One consequence of that is that foreigners find Finnish monotonous, as many other languages attain the same goals by changing intonation. A typical complaint is that they can't tell if an utterance is a question or not. For the same reason, a Finn who tries to speak English might be unable to put enough singsong into what he's saying, and that might make him sound uninterested by whoever he's interacting with.... This is just a wild guess of mine, but I'd suspect that Greek too, relying heavily on enclitic particles, might have had little use for varying intonation.
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Re: Pauses in Greek speech

Postby jeidsath » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:07 am

I think that you are correct to say that it is not pauses between words that I am talking about. However, something clearly varies here between different languages.

A bit of research tells me that the linguistic term for this is “speech segmentation.” English uses stress segmentation, while languages like French use syllable segmentation. This is experimentally verified by using response-time tests. And apparently even advanced bilingual speakers only use one type of segmentation or the other.

When you repeat these response time tests with Japanese, you find that speech segmentation does not happen by stress or syllable segmentation, but by mora.

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/pubman/item/e ... _1993_Mora

Where pauses come in, is the theory of Isochrony. It looks like you can have stress-timed languages (English, German), syllable-times languages (French, Italian), or mora-timed languages (Japanese, Ancient Greek, Vedic Sanskrit, Proto-Indo-European, and Finnish). Time between stresses is about the same, versus time between syllables, versus time between moras.

Rather than talking about pauses around words like δε and γε, I should have been talking about stress. I have a lot of trouble putting stress on them in a way that sounds correct. (In English, this stress would change the word timing, depending on when the next stressed element showed up.) δέ is not enclitic, but even if an enclitic like γε belongs to the previous word, I should be able to stress it and pause after. If it were English.

Hopefully all this makes whatever I’m trying to capture in the initial post a bit clearer.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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