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.