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Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

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Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mahasacham » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:53 pm

I was wondering what the reasoning is behind using a long alpha to pronounce omicron in the Erasmian pronunciation system. In particular, Logos = Lagas. Which is funny to me because "lagas" reminds me of the word for rabbit.

One of my theories is that when the Erasmian system uses English words to demonstrate how to pronounce a vowel, the example for "o" is often "pot"which may be conceived of by an American as "PAAAHT" instead of the British way which actually does use a short o almost like the surprised interjection "Oh!"......just a theory.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby jeidsath » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:24 pm

Yes, I think that's exactly it. And as far as I know it's an American thing. Compare "pot" pronunciations on Forvo. "winterfrost" from the UK has a different vowel from all of the United States pronunciations: https://forvo.com/word/pot/

Vox Graeca (I know you mention Erasmian, but here it's the same) suggests that ω be pronounced like English "saw." Same problem: https://forvo.com/word/saw
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mahasacham » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:24 pm

I'm originally from the Midwest. Having lived in California for the last 8 years, when I go back to Michigan, the o phoneme in "abOUt" I imagine is pretty close to the Omega phoneme.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby bedwere » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:01 am

If Americans started to use the I.P.A. alphabet, it would make things simpler. I noticed a definite resistance to adopt it. In the 80ies, when I was in high school, my Oxford English Learner's dictionary had I.P.A. letters to show pronunciation. When I moved to America in the late 90ies, I was shocked to find the Webster's dictionary had symbols of no use to me and of doubtful scientific value.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mwh » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:32 am

IPA is standard in academe. Whenever I have to make extensive use of it, I like to drink one with it.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:42 pm

bedwere wrote:If Americans started to use the I.P.A. alphabet, it would make things simpler. I noticed a definite resistance to adopt it. In the 80ies, when I was in high school, my Oxford English Learner's dictionary had I.P.A. letters to show pronunciation. When I moved to America in the late 90ies, I was shocked to find the Webster's dictionary had symbols of no use to me and of doubtful scientific value.


And if you want another windmill to tilt at, you might want to advocate for adopting the metric system in America... :)

Erasmean has one didactic advantage in that it gives the student sufficiently distinguishable pronunciation as to make memorization and spelling easier. Does it sound the way Socrates would have pronounced it? Certainly not, but then again, Greek just a generation later probably did not sound exactly the same as 5th century Athens, since the language was continually changing in terms of pronunciation, and there were of course varying pronunciations and dialectical differences throughout the Panhellenic world. It's a safe assumption than even a few miles from the Parthenon the country Greeks didn't sound quite like the city folk.

What do we think of this site? http://atticgreek.org/index.html

If you have access to a JSTOR account, here is an interesting article:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4352587?se ... b_contents
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby jeidsath » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:00 pm

There are already several things that we can argue about in this thread, which started with a simple question about a vowel:

IPA versus American phonetic notation
Erasmian pronunciation versus "how I do it"
The metric system versus English weights and measures (maybe even #brexit)
Beer

(I hope that we choose beer.)
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mahasacham » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:23 pm

So then technically speaking, when people claim they are pronouncing Erasmian, yet pronouncing the word logos as lagas, its technically wrong; or would that be the "American" form of Erasmian?

It seems to me more that it is just a mistaken form of Erasmian than an actual local dialect of the system of pronunciation.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:34 pm

mahasacham wrote:So then technically speaking, when people claim they are pronouncing Erasmian, yet pronouncing the word logos as lagas, its technically wrong; or would that be the "American" form of Erasmian?

It seems to me more that it is just a mistaken form of Erasmian than an actual local dialect of the system of pronunciation.


What does "technically wrong" in this context even mean? The criticism seems to be between British English and American. The Australians, of course, will tell us that both are wrong. And what about the Canadians, eh?
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mahasacham » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:55 pm

Well I was just thinking in terms of what Erasmus was intending his form of pronunciation to sound like.

I realize trying to figure out what Ancient Greek actually sounded like is a lost cause but is it truly a lost cause to figure out what Erasmus was intending his devotees to sound like?

I guess this begs a larger question. Are there IPA phonemes assigned to the Erasmian system?
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:44 pm

Dr. Buth sent me his promo CD on "restored koine". I thanked him for it listened to it and immediately complained on b-greek about the loss of the sound distinction between omega on omicron. He defended but I don't recall what he said.

Erasmian isn't standard anymore than english is standard. There are folks reading greek on utube who are almost impossible to understand. I have heard professors of greek reading passages in dialect that is completely unfamiliar, could be Swahili for all I know.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby jeidsath » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:07 pm

Image
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mahasacham » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:07 pm

Awesome Chart!!
Apparently though it is not taking into account the new American propensity of pronouncing omicron as an alpha. I wonder if that is a new development in the history of Ancient Greek pronunciation.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:01 pm

While jogging I've been listening lately to a podcast about Ancient Greece in American English. Although English isn't my native language, I can follow it without much difficulty except for Greek names – it's really a guessing game, as almost all sounds have been distorted by seemingly random phonetic changes. And not only vowels, as shown by Joel's table, but consonants as well!

I was paying only half attention, when in the middle of a narrative about the rise of Persia I suddenly hear the Sumerians entering the stage. Hmm, what? Haven't they been gone for over 1000 years? :shock: Yet I hear the word Sumerian repeated several times. It took me some time before I realized that the guy was talking about Cimmerians. :lol:
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Markos » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:47 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:Dr. Buth sent me his promo CD on "restored koine". I thanked him for it listened to it and immediately complained on b-greek about the loss of the sound distinction between omega on omicron. He defended but I don't recall what he said.

Buth and I once traded jokes, about how either profora could lead to heresy.

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τᾶν θεάν. (and Jesus was with the goddess.)

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τῶν θεῶν. (and Jesus was from the gods.)
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:10 am

You mean the Rabbit was with the gods? :)

Perhaps this is evidence for early contact between Near Eastern and Maya cultures?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_mo ... Ixchel.jpg

(I'm sorry for highjacking this thread with my nonsense.)
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:39 am

If so, this is the second time that scholarly Greek pronunciation reform has been sabotaged by phonetic change in the vernacular languages. For example, if in Erasmus's time, someone in England said that ου was pronounced as "ow" in "gown", he was right; but English was in the middle of the Tudor-period vowel shift, and since then the English pronunciation of "gown" changed, dragging with it the scholarly pronunciation of Greek ου. American students learning Latin or Greek, or any other foreign language, would have to learn to pronounce ĕ and ŏ correctly and not drawled. I remember in school Latin class here in England around 1960, one boy in my class who habitually pronounced English long "o" as "aw", and thus for example in Latin always pronounced the verb forms "amo" and "amor" identically. And my French teacher pronounced the French nasal vowels "an" and "on" incorrectly identically, both as a nasalized version of English "aw".

I read once of an Ancient Greek teacher who taught his students to pronounce Greek with the ancient pitch-accent as shown by the accents, so that for example ώ could distinguished by ear from ῶ.

My pronunciation, based on recent theories, is:
ε - short closed e, like French é
η - long open e, like "air" without the r-component
ο - short closed o
ω - long open o
ου - sometimes the diphthong, sometimes long closed o, depends on etymology
ει - sometimes the diphthong, sometimes long closed e, depends on etymology
ῃ ᾳ ῳ - here I also pronounce the i-component.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby jeidsath » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:28 pm

GOWN was probably one of the few instances where they were wrong (see the above chart). The Vox Graeca suggestions for classical Attic are available through the following link. It's important to read the text though.

http://imgur.com/a/OE2kb

Vox Graeca has been more or less accepted by English classical teachers since it came out, and it more or less confirmed (or justified) the 1895 "Restored Pronunciation of Greek and Latin" by Arnold and Conway, whose recommendations were generally followed in English schools before that. So there hasn't been an excuse to complain about Erasmian for a number of decades! (Vox Graeca is very clear in the introduction that he is using Received Pronunciation, ie. BBC English in his examples. He also uses phonetic notation, though not IPA, throughout his text. Following the American pronunciation of "pot," for example, is simply error.)

In my opinion though, vowel qualities matter much less than speech rhythm. Ie., long vowels versus short vowels, properly doubling consonants, etc. I hear way too many people try to add the rhythm into Homer, or whatever poetry they are reading, rather than letting it emerge from phonetic characteristics.

Reconstructed Koine pronunciations all follow Horrocks (there are some nice IPA diagrams in his "Greek Language" which Buth used for his starting point), and Horrocks is greatly indebted to Teodorsson's data for the classical-Koine sound distinctions. I think that Ruijgh's critique of Teodorsson (we've discussed it here) is mostly on the right track though. All sorts of justifications have been invented to explain Teodorsson's data -- the elite vs. peon pronunciation, a different educated pronunciation, etc. -- and in my opinion the easiest explanation is that Teodorsson simply overstates things. As far as I can see, the Greeks made quantity-based metrical poetry until they couldn't hear the metre anymore, and then stopped (with isolated exceptions), pushing the collapse of the classical speech patterns into the the centuries after Christ, not before.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby mwh » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:24 am

Someone—was it Gilbert Murray in his autobiography?—recalled being puzzled by a lecturer’s speaking about “horse,” until he realized he was actually saying ὡς, in the then new-fangled pronunciation. It’s not just the omega but the sigma that people are liable to mispronounce.

It’s interesting that Babrius (2nd cent. CE?) maintained classical vowel and syllable length in his scazons but at the same time accented the penultimate syllable.
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby daivid » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:16 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:While jogging I've been listening lately to a podcast about Ancient Greece in American English. Although English isn't my native language, I can follow it without much difficulty except for Greek names – it's really a guessing game, as almost all sounds have been distorted by seemingly random phonetic changes. And not only vowels, as shown by Joel's table, but consonants as well!

I was paying only half attention, when in the middle of a narrative about the rise of Persia I suddenly hear the Sumerians entering the stage. Hmm, what? Haven't they been gone for over 1000 years? :shock: Yet I hear the word Sumerian repeated several times. It took me some time before I realized that the guy was talking about Cimmerians. :lol:


I spent a day with a French guy who spoke good English with a really heavy accent. In the morning I hadn't a clue what he was saying. However, he pronounced his phonemes consistently so by the afternoon I has no longer aware of of him having an accent at all.

To me it doesn't matter much what pronunciation system people use so long as they consistently represent the phonemes of ancient Greek. (Which of course rules out modern Greek pronunciation.)
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:15 am

I prefer to pronounce the i-component in ῃ ᾳ ῳ . Pronouncing them the same as η α ω risks encouraging spelling errors. That is shown down the centuries in India, where Sanskrit is the classical language: the old custom there was to pronounce "ŗ" (r with a dot below, anciently r as a vowel) as "ri", and as a result in India there are many Sanskrit inscriptions with spelling errors between "ŗ" and "ri".
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Re: Erasmian pronunciation and Omicron

Postby Anthony Appleyard » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:31 pm

The examples that Erasmus (who was Dutch) used for his idea of the Ancient Greek pronunciations of ει and ου, were the Dutch word "ei" = 'egg', and the vowel in the Dutch words "oud" = 'old' and "koud" = 'cold'. Which he somewhat unclearly described as "ut Batavi dicunt ovum" and "ut dicimus senex et frigidus", or similar. (I can agree, because I taught myself Dutch for two holidays motorcycling round Holland.)
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