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My Failures in Homeric Greek with Schoder and Horrigan

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My Failures in Homeric Greek with Schoder and Horrigan

Postby Bretonus » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:51 pm

Hello,

I have created this topic for a place to run for all the much needed help I will need as I try to teach myself Greek. My first questions are about pronunciation of vowels and diphthongs.

How does the pronunciation of ο and ω differ? Is it just a matter of vowel length?

I remember when learning the pronunciation of Latin that Ï… has no English equivalent, that it's a close front rounded vowel, but the book says it can be treated like the letter u or i. Should I stick to the pronunciation I use for Latin?

The book mentions that ηυ is a diphthong, but gives no English equivalent, what should I use?

Should I pronounce the iota in the iota subscript?

Given there are so many vowels in words I want to make sure I am pronouncing them right, and it would also make learning the declensions a little simpler.
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Postby Lex » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:09 pm

It would depend on why you plan on learning pronunciation (since Homeric Greek is a dead language, the normal reason doesn't apply). Here's my two cents...

If you want to learn the pronunciation the way it was actually spoken (as best we know), I will gladly defer to the knowledge of others here.

If you want to speak with other students and teachers about Homeric Greek, use the pronunciation they use.

If you want to use speech as a memory tool for memorizing inclinations, use whatever works for you.
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Re: My Failures in Homeric Greek with Schoder and Horrigan

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:16 am

Personally I use the reconstructed pronunciation for Attic when I read Homer (which probably isn't all that different from his) so I'll try answering your questions from that perspective.

Bretonus wrote:How does the pronunciation of ο and ω differ? Is it just a matter of vowel length?

Most likely there was also a difference in quality with ο being more close and ω being more open. There's also a long close o written ου (which was also used to represent an original diphthong but the two later merged in pronunciation).

I remember when learning the pronunciation of Latin that Ï… has no English equivalent, that it's a close front rounded vowel, but the book says it can be treated like the letter u or i. Should I stick to the pronunciation I use for Latin?

I think it's possible that Homer still pronounced υ as [u] but saying [i] is kind of weird (unless you're using a fully Modern Greek pronunciation) -- personally I use [y] since that's what it was in Attic and plus I pronounce ου as [u:] so I don't have too much of a choice here.

The book mentions that ηυ is a diphthong, but gives no English equivalent, what should I use?

I say [ε:u].

Should I pronounce the iota in the iota subscript?

I do but I think many people don't. Personally I think it helps distinguish cases and some other things.
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Postby Bretonus » Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:09 pm

Thanks for the advice, I have worked out my pronunciation to try to be a little of what I'm comfortable with, but also maintain some of the original pronunciation. Also, Modus, how were φ and θ pronounced in Attic? If I can come up with an excuse to pronounce them like I would in English I would be very happy.

I am happy to say I am making progress in Greek, if only a little, without feeling overwhelmed, when I thought it would be much more difficult going in.
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Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:12 pm

There are a lot of good reasons to pronounce θ and φ like th and f but historical accuracy is not one of them. It seems pretty conclusive that in Attic they were still aspirated plosives (I'm convinced mostly by the fact that it was not until much later that Latin speakers identified φ with their f). But the fricative pronunciation is easier for English speakers (at least it is for me in terms of distinguishing θ from τ and so on) and there's a 2000-year long tradition of native Greek speakers pronouncing them as fricatives without loss of understanding so I'd go with what you're more comfortable with.

Bretonus wrote:I am happy to say I am making progress in Greek, if only a little, without feeling overwhelmed, when I thought it would be much more difficult going in.

That's good to hear -- I think you'll find a point where things just snowball and you start learning stuff fairly quickly, especially with Homer where it seems that once you get past the early hurdles things really smoothen out and then one day you find yourself reading a bunch of lines in a row and you understanding everything (or at least the gist of it).
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Postby spiphany » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:26 pm

Bretonus wrote:how were φ and θ pronounced in Attic?

The difference between the aspirated and unaspirated consonants is approximately

the 'p' in 'pin' (φ) versus the 'p' in 'spin' (π)
and
the 't' in 'tone' (θ) versus the 't' in 'stone' (τ)

We don't normally hear the difference in English, but if you put our hand in front of your mouth when you pronounce the words, you'll find that the aspirated form is accompanied by a puff of air, while the unaspirated form is not.

Aspirating φ and θ is not particularly difficult -- however, unaspirating π and τ is challenging. For the purposes of understanding, as Modus says, using f and th is probably the most practical.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Postby Bretonus » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:38 pm

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Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:49 pm

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