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Greek pronunciation audio recordings

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Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby pster » Thu May 13, 2010 2:17 am

Which available online audio recording of Attic Greek has the best accent?

Right now, I lean towards Mastronarde: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ancgreek/ ... actU1.html

As a result, I tend to be critical of Daitz (although I do listen to his Plato): http://www.rhapsodes.fll.vt.edu/Demosth ... thenes.htm

What do you guys think about these two samples? Do you have any that you like more? I want to make an audio list of greek verbs for my own use but I don't feel like I do a very good job pronouncing epsilon, eta,iota, related diphthongs, and related contractions.
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby spiphany » Thu May 13, 2010 6:12 am

The recordings by Mastronarde and Daitz have very different goals -- Mastronarde is more focused on providing a general sense of the pronunciation of individual letters and words, Daitz with the pronunciation of extended passages.

I'm not quite sure what your criteria are for a recording, or what you're looking for -- pronunciation of lists of words for vocabulary memorization? The best recitation style? Are you only interested in the reconstructed pronunciation or will anything work, as long as it's self-consistent?

I have a list here of all the recordings I've been able to find, excluding specifically koine/new testament-oriented recordings. Most are available online, so you can sample and decide for yourself which you like best.

I find Daitz takes some getting used to and purely aesthetically I don't like his stuff as much as some of the others. My feelings about the "Speaking Greek" audio are similar.
I like the Homeric recitations by Annis, Shaw and Andrews. I also find Stefan Hagel's recordings quite appealing.
Mind you, this evaluation is based on my personal taste -- it's NOT a critique of how accurately they manage to realize the reconstructed pronunciation, whether they get the pitch accents "right", etc.
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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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby Scribo » Thu May 13, 2010 11:54 am

Hahahahahahaha at the Daitz, what the hell?
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby Markos » Fri May 14, 2010 10:46 pm

Hey, Brenda, I just wanted to say that your site which has links to all these audios is the best such site I have found. I have recommended it often on other forums. The Athenaze sound files found there are very helpful in my opinion.

I do not want to weigh in on the pronunciation debate other than to say I completely agree with you that it is all a matter of taste and I am convinced that which pronunciation one chooses has zero effect on how fluent one becomes. Daitz sounds utterly ridiculous to me, but I know that is just me and it means nothing, I know that my American Erasmian accent sounds terrible to both native Greeks and classicists and that means nothing too.

Also, Brenda you should know, per our off-list e-mails that we did a while back, that I have become part of a small speaking-in-Greek group in Boulder. I just heard from someone from C.U. that may join us. I hope that when you get back from Germany you can maybe join us. ερρωσο.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby scrambledeggs » Sat May 15, 2010 2:43 am

I hate to have to reenter this subject, but my distaste of ignorance requires me to speak.

Mastronarde's reader has an American accent and is not pronouncing wholly in the restored classical way. For one, she aspirates the bilabial in παιδίον, pronouncing it incorrectly as a phi. (L'Americaine!) She also doesn't use the pitch accent, but the anachronistic stress accent which is not part of Attic; and note that Mastronarde's site is for learning Attic. (Although he himself instructs his beginner students that it isn't necessary to practice the pitch accent themselves, I would have wished for his site to at least demonstrate it). The reader also makes the omicron sound too open for my taste, making it sound like a short alpha; defendable, perhaps, but creating homophones where none need be. However, these issues aside, her pronunciation is good, although I still maintain if you want 100% dedication to the what the classical sound was most likely, Daitz is the standard.

To poster above who laughed at Daitz's recording; all I can say, is that his pronunciation is based on evidence, and the style he delivers it is modelled on formal oratory, and is exaggerated on purpose.
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby Damoetas » Mon May 17, 2010 6:48 pm

scrambledeggs wrote:To poster above who laughed at Daitz's recording; all I can say, is that his pronunciation is based on evidence, and the style he delivers it is modelled on formal oratory, and is exaggerated on purpose.

I also don't mean to belabor an already overdone debate.... But I would be interested to know more about the claim that his style is modeled on formal oratory - do you have references to some of his works where he discusses this? What is the nature of the evidence for what formal oratory sounded like?
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby pster » Tue May 18, 2010 4:08 am

scrambledeggs wrote:I hate to have to reenter this subject, but my distaste of ignorance requires me to speak.

Mastronarde's reader has an American accent and is not pronouncing wholly in the restored classical way. For one, she aspirates the bilabial in παιδίον, pronouncing it incorrectly as a phi. (L'Americaine!) She also doesn't use the pitch accent, but the anachronistic stress accent which is not part of Attic; and note that Mastronarde's site is for learning Attic. (Although he himself instructs his beginner students that it isn't necessary to practice the pitch accent themselves, I would have wished for his site to at least demonstrate it). The reader also makes the omicron sound too open for my taste, making it sound like a short alpha; defendable, perhaps, but creating homophones where none need be. However, these issues aside, her pronunciation is good, although I still maintain if you want 100% dedication to the what the classical sound was most likely, Daitz is the standard.

To poster above who laughed at Daitz's recording; all I can say, is that his pronunciation is based on evidence, and the style he delivers it is modelled on formal oratory, and is exaggerated on purpose.



I'm new to this debate. Is there a link for a past discussion? I'm not sure if you are familiar with Mastronarde's book, but it is an excellent text, and his pronunciation table seems to differ from Daitz. Why would he not offer a table consonant with Daitz. What is the basis for M's pronunciation table then? I'm not questioning what you are saying at all. I'm just trying to get a feel for the issues involved. So those are definitely all stress accents on M's audio? I guess so. I haven't used them since I began Greek. (I don't hear a phi in her pronunciation and I'm a bit surpised to find that would mark her as an American! lol. ) Please, though, tell us more about why Daitz is so good. I thought that some things were weird. He pronounces chi like an ess in line number 5. And he just sorta sounds like an unhappy Greek in winter. Is there a canonical description of the Daitz pronunciation table (my lingo)? Any good links? Thanks so much.
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby pster » Tue May 18, 2010 4:38 am

spiphany wrote:The recordings by Mastronarde and Daitz have very different goals -- Mastronarde is more focused on providing a general sense of the pronunciation of individual letters and words, Daitz with the pronunciation of extended passages.

I'm not quite sure what your criteria are for a recording, or what you're looking for -- pronunciation of lists of words for vocabulary memorization? The best recitation style? Are you only interested in the reconstructed pronunciation or will anything work, as long as it's self-consistent?

I have a list here of all the recordings I've been able to find, excluding specifically koine/new testament-oriented recordings. Most are available online, so you can sample and decide for yourself which you like best.

I find Daitz takes some getting used to and purely aesthetically I don't like his stuff as much as some of the others. My feelings about the "Speaking Greek" audio are similar.
I like the Homeric recitations by Annis, Shaw and Andrews. I also find Stefan Hagel's recordings quite appealing.
Mind you, this evaluation is based on my personal taste -- it's NOT a critique of how accurately they manage to realize the reconstructed pronunciation, whether they get the pitch accents "right", etc.


What I'm looking for is our best guess as to what it sounded like at Socrate's trial. Hopefully it is something very musical. Thanks so much. That is an impressive collection. I'm going to make much use of your site. I've already got a few questions about Harris. Mastronarde says that the pitch dropped on the syllable following an accute accent but Harris says nothing about that. Also, I think Harris means "eighth note triplets since that would take one beat. And, he talks about A to F perhaps even to E, but E is lower than F so why the "even"?

(Why Real Media?? UGH! What's wrong with MP3's?)
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby pster » Tue May 18, 2010 5:15 am

scrambled, is there anyone else that you would rank up there with Daitz?

everyone, one of the links says that there is evidence that the melody would follow the contours of the accents. great, but now two questions: does that help us understand whether there is or is not a falling (as opposed to fallen) pitch on the syllable after an acute accent? and, where is there the detail about this whole matter?? i'm very interested in this question because i am a musician and i actually have already composed some music for attic greek and i have tried to make melodies do exactly this. taking into account what harris says, it almost seems like they had melodies of no more than two notes?? (my melodies are cooler than that! lol.)

thanks everyone. i'm afraid on just about every topic, i'm going to be the man of 1000 questions and 0 answers. i participate in three forums and in the other two i have more answers than questions. i think i may bore the more knowledgeable members to tears with all my attic 101 type questions.
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Re: Greek pronunciation audio recordings

Postby spiphany » Tue May 18, 2010 11:55 am

Markos wrote:Hey, Brenda, I just wanted to say that your site which has links to all these audios is the best such site I have found. I have recommended it often on other forums. The Athenaze sound files found there are very helpful in my opinion.

I do not want to weigh in on the pronunciation debate other than to say I completely agree with you that it is all a matter of taste and I am convinced that which pronunciation one chooses has zero effect on how fluent one becomes. Daitz sounds utterly ridiculous to me, but I know that is just me and it means nothing, I know that my American Erasmian accent sounds terrible to both native Greeks and classicists and that means nothing too.

Also, Brenda you should know, per our off-list e-mails that we did a while back, that I have become part of a small speaking-in-Greek group in Boulder. I just heard from someone from C.U. that may join us. I hope that when you get back from Germany you can maybe join us. ερρωσο.

Hi Mark, I'm glad to hear that the Greek conversation group is working out! I hope you guys are having fun! I'm doing a Greek composition course right now, but otherwise my Greek knowledge is almost entirely passive and I totally have respect for what you are attempting.

I think you are entirely correct that for the purposes of acquiring oral fluency the historical accuracy of the pronunciation is secondary. Ideally, of course, I think one should strive for some approximation of accuracy...but there are considerable difficulties in the way of such an attempt, and I'm acutely aware of my own limitations. Training onself to read/recite a text with pitch accents, accurate vowel quantities and de-aspirated π τ κ is difficult enough. Spontaneously constructing grammatically correct sentences of your own is an equal challenge, as anyone who has learned a foreign language knows. I think there are very few people who would have the capability to master both simultaneously. I'm by no means a purist in this respect, I think the important thing is to find a balance. There are huge practical reasons for adopting a traditional pronunciation (not the least of which is an increased likelihood of mutual comprehension), and I don't think people should be condemned for doing so. Most learners of a modern foreign language find it difficult enough to speak without an accent, and they have the example of living speakers, an option which simply isn't available to us for ancient Greek.

Recordings with the reconstructed pronunciation are interesting as just that: reconstructions. That is, an interpretation of the available evidence. We will never know exactly how classical Greek sounded, there are so many elements of prosody which we simply cannot know for sure, although we can guess. The recordings need to be evaluated in this light: what goals does the speaker set for him/herself, what assumptions have been made, and is he or she consistent in following these precepts. Finally, there will always be a personal element to our response, much as there would be to a performance of a song or a play: does this particular interpretation convince, does it work for me as a listener.

I'm not saying that Daitz should be condemned because his pronunciation sounds "strange" or "unnatural" -- ancient Greek with its pitch accent may very well have sounded strange to our ears. BUT it's also not the only way that the reconstructed pronunciation can be realized. A comparision of various pronunciations needs to make clear exactly why one prefers one over another AND needs to recognize that there is no single "right" answer to the problem.

pster: one of the aspects of the pitch accent that we're still not certain about is exactly what the grave represented, and how the pitch changes were distributed over the word/phrase. If you want to know more about the details, I suggest you start with Allen's Vox Graeca, which provides an overview of the debates. As far as Greek music goes, this isn't an area of expertise for me, you might check out Stefan Hagel's site which has some notes and a bibliography on the subject.
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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