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IE-Linguistics Question - spurious diphthongs

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IE-Linguistics Question - spurious diphthongs

Postby Elucubrator » Thu May 08, 2003 12:21 am

I hope that everyone realises (but I know you do not) that what most textbooks call the Greek diphthong [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] is in truth rarely a real diphthong (i.e. meant to be pronounced as -ey- in English "hey"). Most of the time the two letter are a digraph, a combination of two letters used to represent a single sound. In English an example of a digraph is the pair "ch" which represents only one sound (e.g. "church"). <br /><br /> In Greek, the digraph [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] represents a long "epsilon", that is, the sound of an epsilon when it is held in pronunciation for the same amount of time as a long vowel, without admitting any i-sound at all (this is not the same quality of sound as the letter [face=SPIonic] h [/face]). To pronounce the [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] digraph correctly you must not allow your tongue to move at all while you are pronouncing "eeehhh". Hold it in place to keep from allowing the digraph to become a diphthong.<br /><br /> At this point most people will want to know how you can tell when [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] is a diphthong, and when it is'nt, since in print they look exactly the same, and indeed you can not tell by looking at the word, but it may be determined by analysing the morphology of words. It is less often a diphthong than it is a digraph, and if we can learn to spot the places where it is a diphthong, it would be better to assume that everywhere else it is the digraph. <br /><br /> These digraphs are sometimes called spurious diphthongs, which means they look like a diphthong but really aren't. Such an one is the present infinitive active ending [face=SPIonic] -ein [/face]. In this verb form the ending is produced by a contraction of two epsilons, namely, the thematic vowel of the conjugation plus the infinitive ending, viz. [face=SPIonic] e [/face]+[face=SPIonic] -en [/face]=[face=SPIonic] -ein [/face]. There was never an iota sound to begin with, and neither is there once the vowels have contracted.<br /><br /> One example where the diphthong is real is the[face=SPIonic] ei [/face] in the verb[face=SPIonic] pei/qw [/face] which is accordingly pronounced "peyt-haaw" ("aw" as in English "saw"). The endings of the aorist optative passive are also real diphthongs, as are some of the optatives in the conjugations of the contract verbs. It's good to keep these points in mind.<br /><br /> What I would like to find if anybody knows of the existence of such a thing, is a list of words where [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] is in fact a diphthong. If it is something that has never been put together, I was wondering whether we might not keep a growing list in this thread as we discover them. Can anyone help with this? <br /><br />Sebastian<br /><br />
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Re:IE-Linguistics Question - spurious diphthongs

Postby annis » Thu May 08, 2003 12:57 am

[quote author=Elucubrator link=board=2;threadid=99;start=0#411 date=1052353299]<br /> What I would like to find if anybody knows of the existence of such a thing, is a list of words where [face=SPIonic] ei [/face] is a diphthong. If it is something that has never been put together I was wondering whether we might not keep a growing list in this thread as we discover them. Can anyone help with this? <br />[/quote]<br /><br />I've never heard of such a list.<br /><br />Why do you want this list, apart from historical interest? I believe Greek for most of the period people are interested in (i.e., Classical and beyond), the pronunciation of the true and the spurious diphthongs fell together (in the 300s?), resulting in the orthography we have today.<br /><br />I think it'd take a serious dose of research to verify this for each occurance of ou kai\ ei. Where would you start on the ou), ou)k, ou)x family? We'd have to check Attic inscriptional evidence. I suspect there'll be plenty of words where we can't know. Ablaut variation with oi seems a good sign of a true diphthong.<br /><br />[face=SPIonic]eu)tu/xete[/face]
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Re:IE-Linguistics Question - spurious diphthongs

Postby Elucubrator » Wed May 14, 2003 2:30 am

[face=SPIonic][size=18=12]Hi William, <br /><br />I want to know because I want to know how the ancient Greek language sounded as much as possible, as much as we can determine, in the different periods and dialects. W. Sidney Allen has done an excellent job in his book Vox Graeca and he includes a chart that indicates the changes in pronunciation of the vowels through time, but the matter of the spurious and genuine diphthongs is something I can't find much information on. I have read this part in Sihler and in Allen's Vox Graeca but from neither am I able to determine where the changes take place. I think I did read that eventually the pronunciation of the spurious diphthong and the digraph for long epsilon fell together, but the orthography for both had always been the same: EI.<br /><br />I think it was rather the fact that the orthography looked the same that eventually caused pronunciation of the two to approximate one another and eventually end in the same sound, rather than that the sounds having come to be the same, were subsequently written in the same manner. But, the books I mentioned above I have not read in two years, and perhaps I need to give them another glance.<br /><br />Why would it be as difficult as you say? For example, we know that in pei/qw the diphthong is real because we can work it through the sound mill and we know the iota is really there. In the future tense pei/somai from the verb pei/qw is pronounced "pey-so-mai", as the dipthong is real. However, the future of the verb pa/sxw looks identical to the future of the verb pei/qw, namely pei/somai but it has in fact a different pronunciation, namely, "peeh-so-mai".<br /><br />How do we know this? First of all, it is important to remember that the term spurious dipthong only tells us that it's not really a diphthong, but doesn't tell us about what the sound behind the orthography is. What we are really talking about is the lengthening of an epsilon or an omicron. This lengthening of the short vowels may result from one of two reasons:<br /> <br /> (1)Contraction of e+e. For example in the contract verb poie/w:<br /><br />poie + ete = poiei=te no diphthong, but long epsilon (if we may call it that.)<br /><br /> (2) Compensatory lengthening. This is when a letter falls out of a word and the vowel is lengthened to compensate for what was lost. For example, in the future of the verb pa/sxw, which we were discussing above. The Indo-European form is:<br /><br />penth-s-o-mai. From this the consonant cluster -nth- drops out, and we are left with pe-so-mai. The e in pe- will lengthen to compensate for the loss of the consonants and gives us peeh-so-mai. In Greek pei/somai. Again their is no diphthongisation, but a long epsilon.<br /><br />I was surprised to find very straightforward information on how to determine whether a diphthong is spurious or genuine in Goodwin's Greek Grammar, section 8, which I here decompress and transcribe:<br /><br />________________________<br /><br />8. The diphthongs ei and ou are either genuine or spurious. <br /><br />Genuine ei, ou either belong to the earliest structure of the language, as in pei/qw, persuade (cf. its perfect pe/poiqa), or arise from contraction of e+i, as in ge/ne-i, ge/nei by birth (232). <br /><br />Spurious ei and ou arise from contraction of e+e and e+o, o+e, or o+o, as in e0poi/ei for (e0poi/ee) he made, e0poi/oun for (e0poi/eon they made; or from compensative lengthening (32), as in tiqei/j (for tiqent-j, 70) placing, tou/j (for to/n-j, 75), the accusative plural of the article.<br /><br />In the fourth century B.C. the spurious diphthongs were written like genuine ei and ou (that is, EI, OU); but in earlier times they were written E and O. See 28.<br /><br />________________________<br /><br />This all makes it seem like it would be possible to determine whether a diphthong is genuine in a verb or not, by looking at the ablaut (the different vowel grades in the forms of it's principal parts.) And to interpret a diphthong as genuine anywhere that an iota is part of a contraction. Of course, to reproduce this kind of accuracy in reading Greek, it is necessary to know the words in advance. And that is why I am proposing the construction of a list of Greek words with genuine diphthongs.<br /><br />It just occurred to me that lei/pw is another verb where the diphthong is genuine, as its perfect is le/loipa. This doesn't seem like it will be so hard, really. What do you think? Let's keep track of them.<br /><br />sincerely,<br /><br />J. Sebastian Pagani[/face][/size]<br />
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Re:IE-Linguistics Question - spurious diphthongs

Postby Kevin » Thu Jun 05, 2003 4:51 am

According to Allen, the two sounds of 'ei' were identical by the C5, and had merged in the C6 or perhaps earlier. Therefore 'ei' is to be pronounced the same throughout the Classical period, no matter what its origin, and that is what the Greeks did at the time. Also, the change in spelling follows the change in pronunciation, not the other way around. Which is rather obvious when you remember that most Greeks of the time were illiterate. It seems a little pedantic to change the pronunciation of the classical authors over time, a practice we don't follow in reading Shakespeare.<br /><br />Most of the information you want is in Allen p. 67 ff
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