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pronouncing letter Z

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pronouncing letter Z

Postby aq » Tue Dec 26, 2006 1:19 pm

hi everybody!!!
if my english seems to be rough, excuse me, it is.

my question
in the phonetics guide of this book there is written that ZETA is pronounced like ZD in Ahura-MaZDa

but, i'm sorry, is that TRUE?
as i think now, it is not!!!!

is that situation common in english tradition of pronouncing AncientGreeek? or, may be, contemporary people do not pronounce this letter so?
lo que pasa es que in our (soviet and russian) books and grammars ZETA
is pronounced DZ

it is logically: p+s is psi. k+s is ksi and t+s must be TS

i hope nobody considers my words an insult
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Postby jk0592 » Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:28 pm

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Postby perispomenon » Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:38 pm

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Postby annis » Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:08 am

perispomenon wrote:Is that indeed the case, for words beginning with Z?


Yep.

It's remarkable how often the question of zeta comes up. The first big discussion was in 2003, zeta pronounce.

The evidence that ζ starts with a sibilant (/s/, /z/, etc.) sound is based on how nu interacts with sibilants. Take the preposition σύν being used as a prefix:

συν + τίθημι > συντίθημι
συν + βούλομαι > συμβούλομαι
συν + κεῖμαι > σύγκειμαι
συν + στέλλω > συστέλλω (note in ν+σ the nu disappears)
συν + ζητέω > συζητέω

That ν+σ and ν+ζ have the same treatment of nu at compound boundaries suggests zeta is a cluster starting with a sibilant.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Bert » Wed Dec 27, 2006 1:16 am

annis wrote:
That ν+σ and ν+ζ have the same treatment of nu at compound boundaries suggests zeta is a cluster starting with a sibilant.


Sometimes it is better to be silent and have people think you are dense than to speak and prove it (I am speaking about me.) but I am going to take the risk.
Somehow the logic completely passes me by.
Can someone explain the reasoning and the conclusion?

Also, how was the Zeta pronounced in Koine and how is it pronounced in Modern?
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Postby annis » Wed Dec 27, 2006 2:21 am

Bert wrote:Sometimes it is better to be silent and have people think you are dense than to speak and prove it (I am speaking about me.) but I am going to take the risk.


Asking a question should never be considered dense.

Can someone explain the reasoning and the conclusion?


Ok. I'm going to take a few liberties with linguistics, mainly by omitting some details, but nothing too shocking to professionals I hope.

First, the sounds /s/ and /z/ are, phonetically speaking, identical in all their features but one: voicing. /s/ is voiceless (i.e., your vocal cords aren't doing anything while pronouncing it) and /z/ is voiced (i.e., your vocal cords are thrumming away).

Second, in general we expect sounds that share most of their features to act similarly in similar contexts.

Third, most of the Greek dialects had a strong aversion to nasals (ν, μ) and sibilants (σ) combining into a cluster anywhere. The first element of the would-be illegal cluster disappeared, with different dialects responding differently to the removal.

Fourth, when σύν compounds with words starting with a dental stop (δ, τ, θ), the nu stays put. However, when σύν compounds with a word starting in σ- the nu is obliterated, as the third point requires.

If ζ were /dz/, we would expect the nu of σύν in compounds to remain in compounds like *συν-ζητέω. Since the nu actually disappears (συζητέω), and the only other place nu is subject to such prejudice is before the sibilant /s/, we conclude that the cluster of sounds in ζ starts with the sound most like /s/, namely /z/, leaving /zd/ for the cluster.

Also, how was the Zeta pronounced in Koine and how is it pronounced in Modern?


Both Allen (Vox Graeca) and Palmer (The Greek Language) put the change in the late 300s (i.e., 320s), with a probable intermediate [zz] stage. I don't have a chart at hand — why oh why is Horrocks out of print?! — but I'd be very surprised if ζ weren't just /z/ by the time the NT was written. In Modern it's /z/.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Bert » Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:40 am

annis wrote:
If ζ were /dz/, we would expect the nu of σύν in compounds to remain in compounds like *συν-ζητέω. Since the nu actually disappears (συζητέω), and the only other place nu is subject to such prejudice is before the sibilant /s/, we conclude that the cluster of sounds in ζ starts with the sound most like /s/, namely /z/, leaving /zd/ for the cluster.


When I got to that part I went; "Aaaaah, now I get it.
Thank you.
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pronounciation of Z

Postby aq » Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:34 am

thanks a lot, annis
't seems to be logically, it explains and helps

but another question has appeard: zeta's origins
as i know, in verbs and in nouns Zeta < /d/+/j/ , is not it?




[/quote]
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Dec 28, 2006 12:54 am

I've come to look at this as a really interesting puzzle because after having thought the pro-[zd] arguments had won the day, I took a closer look and seems the evidence is very conflicting.

The thing that confusing me the most is that Dionysius Thrax says ζ is σ + δ in one section, which works with [zd]. But then he puts ζ in the category of ἡμίφωνα which I understand as being sounds that can be pronounced continuously, which works with [dz] (or maybe [z]). Unless the two passages were not written by the same person, I don't know how to reconcile the two statements, except if he meant the [z] in [zd] could be pronounced continuously but I find that interpretation a little difficult, but maybe I'm wrong there.

With the argument that Annis presented, it seems to me to assume that an affricate like [dz] in Greek would function exactly like any other stop + fricative combination, but I don't see how you could establish this in a non-circular way. For example, in English, an affricate like [tʃ] functions differently from stop + fricative combinations - it can occur at the beginning of words for one thing.

All in all, I've seen strong arguments for both sides and it's very hard for me to let me be convinced by one side.

aq wrote:but another question has appeard: zeta's origins
as i know, in verbs and in nouns Zeta < /d/+/j/ , is not it?


Yes, that is one of the sources -- I can think of examples like ελπιζω < ελπιδ-jω.
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby Bert » Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:33 am

modus.irrealis wrote:

aq wrote:but another question has appeard: zeta's origins
as i know, in verbs and in nouns Zeta < /d/+/j/ , is not it?


Yes, that is one of the sources -- I can think of examples like ελπιζω < ελπιδ-jω.

Would that be an argument in favour of dz?
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby aq » Thu Dec 28, 2006 12:29 pm

me da pena, i did not (i could not) read (the) greek originals, but only thing i know is that i want to learn (the) Ancient Greek (of course you think the English is what i need to learn first)
i know it must sound foolish: maybe Z was something like /zdz/?
1) it sounds long (or prolongated?)
2) it is an affricata
3) the first /z/ in (the) contraction /zdz/ could (?) appear as (the) result of reflection/reduplication of the last /z/
4) i know exactly that in Ukrainian the cyrillic letter Щ is pronounced like [ʃtʃ] or like in "buSH-CHildren"

so that is the question: why could not be the this phaenomenon similar in both IndoEuropean languages, even if one of them is modern and another one is not?

PS. let me know if this forum is only for professionals and if persons who have in Greek nothing but the big interest match not to the forum
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby Bert » Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:31 pm

aq wrote:
PS. let me know if this forum is only for professionals and if persons who have in Greek nothing but the big interest match not to the forum
This forum is not only for professionals.
There is room for all levels of knowledge and skill.
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby annis » Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:41 pm

aq wrote:i know it must sound foolish: maybe Z was something like /zdz/?
1) it sounds long (or prolongated?)
2) it is an affricata
3) the first /z/ in (the) contraction /zdz/ could (?) appear as (the) result of reflection/reduplication of the last /z/
4) i know exactly that in Ukrainian the cyrillic letter Щ is pronounced like [ʃtʃ] or like in "buSH-CHildren"

so that is the question: why could not be the this phaenomenon similar in both IndoEuropean languages, even if one of them is modern and another one is not?


Well, it seems rather extravagant. Besides, we do have other pieces of information from ancient sources, including ancient grammarians classing ζ with the double-consonant letters ψξ.

I've just discovered that Wikipedia has an exhaustive listing of the various arguments for /zd/ and /dz/ at Zeta (letter).
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby modus.irrealis » Sat Dec 30, 2006 6:05 am

Bert wrote:Would that be an argument in favour of dz?

I'm not sure, although I think across languages dy is more likely to develop into dz then into zd. But I'm not sure how far such an argument would go, because original zd is also a source of ζ (like in Ἀθηνάζε I believe), so you need to say that zd became dz, but is that a likely sound change? And looking at aq's suggestion, I have an article with the similar suggestion that dy (and gy) and zd both became [ʒdʒ] and then got simplified early on, but I agree with annis that this seems over complicated.

Also, does anybody know if there are any languages that have dz but no ts? If say Attic Greek had dz, wouldn't it stand out as very odd in that language, whereas zd would be pretty normal?

Although in general, I'm not sure what you can really conclude from this kind of cross-linguistic comparison, since aren't we just establishing likelihoods and such?

Another thing that nags me about the zd pronunciation (which is the one I use), is why would it become z? At first I though if δ got its modern pronunciation then the change would not be that surprising, but the δ change must be centuries later than the ζ change -- does any one know of any explanations for that?
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby annis » Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:07 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:I'm not sure, although I think across languages dy is more likely to develop into dz then into zd.


That was a major sticking point for me, too. Then I ran across this in Sihler (§201; I use "*Z" to represent a Phonecian shape, a T with a bottom line matching the top; the underlining for emphasis is mine):

From the purely phonetic point of view, however, the most straightforward reflex of [dy] and [gy] would have been something like [dZ] or [dz], and such a pronunciation must in fact have been current in some parts; it was with this value that the letter *Z was carried to Italy, where it was used to represent [ts], for example, Osc. húrz [horts] `garden' < *χortos. A development of stop + sibilant to sibilant + stop is not unprecedented: in several Slavic languages for example the presence vs. absence of such a metathesis is a distinguishing trait of dialect groups.


So [dy] > [dz] > [zd], though unusual, isn't unheard of.

Also, does anybody know if there are any languages that have dz but no ts? If say Attic Greek had dz, wouldn't it stand out as very odd in that language, whereas zd would be pretty normal?


I don't know about this, but recall that there is reason to believe -ττ- (-σσ-) may conceal something like pre-Greek [ts] or [tS] (Sihler §198). In some epichoric scripts what we find in Ionic as -σσ- in fact got it's own letter (variously interpreted).

Although in general, I'm not sure what you can really conclude from this kind of cross-linguistic comparison, since aren't we just establishing likelihoods and such?


:shock: But, but, but... *splutter*

"Just establishing likelihoods" is what science is!

Another thing that nags me about the zd pronunciation (which is the one I use), is why would it become z? At first I though if δ got its modern pronunciation then the change would not be that surprising, but the δ change must be centuries later than the ζ change -- does any one know of any explanations for that?


I've never seen one.
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Re: pronounciation of Z

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Dec 31, 2006 4:06 pm

annis wrote:That was a major sticking point for me, too. Then I ran across this in Sihler...
So [dy] > [dz] > [zd], though unusual, isn't unheard of.

Thanks for the quote (and I'm guessing I really should just buy Sihler's book). That does make sense and goes a long way in explaining some of the conflicting evidence, too. Then I guess it's a matter of deciding which dialect underwent the change to [zd], and here I understand that the Attic inscriptional evidence doesn't offer the strongest case for [zd] -- is that an accurate statement?

I don't know about this, but recall that there is reason to believe -ττ- (-σσ-) may conceal something like pre-Greek [ts] or [tS] (Sihler §198). In some epichoric scripts what we find in Ionic as -σσ- in fact got it's own letter (variously interpreted).

I've come across that idea and it makes sense for me in terms of the historical development of Greek, although I'm not so sure about those further arguments that those spellings indicate a contemporary [ts] pronunciation.

:shock: But, but, but... *splutter*

"Just establishing likelihoods" is what science is!

I think I deserve that, but hopefully more for the way as I said it than what I actually meant. I was trying to say that typological considerations don't carry that much weight for me. For example, let's say (just making up numbers) you know on the basis of observed languages that 95% of languages that have /dz/ also have /ts/. I don't see how you could apply this to Ancient Greek in any meaningful way since such a statement ignores all the particular evidence that applies to Greek. The likelihood it gives is that provided all things are equal, there's a 95% chance Greek didn't have /dz/, the problem being that all things aren't equal.

I've never seen one.

I guess I need to stop asking why when it comes to sound changes. I should just remind myself if [d] can become [erk] in Armenian, what can't happen? :D
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