Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pitch?

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Wishfulcrystal
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Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pitch?

Post by Wishfulcrystal » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:51 am

Are there any videos aimed at helping beginners learn how to pronounce diphthongs and long vowels, and how long to hold diphthongs and long vowels? What about videos which teach the pitch accent?

English being my native language, pitch is entirely foreign to me and I'm really not sure how a language with pitch accents would even sound.

Michael Champagne
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Re: Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pit

Post by Michael Champagne » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:17 pm

We don't know proper pronunciation. You'll have to wing it. There are recordings all over the web, and each reader has got his own system.

But you can do this even without a video. Vowel length is the difference between the 'i' in 'big' and the one in 'little.' Worry more about short vowels being short than longs being long, and you're on the right track. Diphthongs are always going to come out long, unless you deliberately shorten them, say for αι and οι.

Pitch is not so foreign to you. English's stress accent has three parts: a rise in pitch, an increase in loudness, and a lengthening of vowels. You'll have to break that last habit to fake a Greek pitch accent.

Think of Greek words not in terms of syllables, but as a sequence of time intervals. One interval is the length of the small 'i.' (Refer back to 'big' and 'little.') A long vowel has two intervals.

In a short vowel, you have only one option: accent the vowel. With practice, you can stress it without lengthening it, and that's a rise in pitch.

In a long vowel, you could accent either the first interval or the second. Accenting the first will sound like βῖγ. Accenting the second will sound like βίγ. In English, 'big' versus 'big?' Does that make sense?

Alternatively, listen to languages with pitch accents. Lithuanian and Sanskrit are probably your best bets, being cousins of Greek. There are recordings of the Lithuanian Bible on Youtube. You can find the text online, and it's much easier to read than Sanskrit.
Corrections are welcome.

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Re: Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pit

Post by RandyGibbons » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:40 pm

Dear Wishfulcrystal.

As Michael says, there's no such thing as "proper pronunciation" of ancient Greek. But there's no lack of strongly held opinions about it! You can learn a lot for example from this Textkit topic: http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-foru ... =2&t=67785.

Some recordings you may want to check out (and I'm going to be lazy and avoid finding the links):

(1) The lectures and readings (including the entire Iliad and Odyssey) of Stephen Daitz, available from Bolchazy-Carducci. Many people have an adverse physical reaction, literally, to what they perceive as Daitz's extreme shrillness, but you should check his readings out, they're kind of a classic.

(2) The CD's that accompany Oxford University Press's Athenaze and Cambridge's Reading Greek. If I recall correctly, the Athenaze recordings start with a guide to (classically restored) pronunciation as well as pitch, and they use pitch in their reading of the first few chapters, before abandoning pitch and simply using stress. Many English-speaking people, at least, I would say probably the majority of ancient Greek students (including myself), abandoned our efforts at pitch as just too difficult and impractical. Again if I recall correctly, the Reading Greek recordings (also using classically restored pronunciation) stick with pitch. But in both cases, the recordings are only for the first few chapters of the respective textbooks.

(3) A personal favorite of mine was Le Grec ancien (part of the French Assimil: La méthode intuitive series). The accompanying recordings cover the entire book (of 101 lessons), so you get a sustained experience, and they are very clearly articulated. I don't remember exactly what they do with pitch. I recommend the book itself, if you are just learning Greek.

There's lots more out there, but to narrow the search: Is your intention to learn and use the classically restored pronunciation, or Koine, or modern Greek? (And I'm assuming you know the difference?) Are you learning and practicing your pronunciation in your early stage of learning Greek, or is it more that you've learned the fundamentals of Greek and have reached a stage where you want to improve/perfect your pronunciation? If the former, you probably want to pick an approach and stay with it consistently. If the latter, you may be more willing to experiment.

Randy Gibbons

Wishfulcrystal
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Re: Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pit

Post by Wishfulcrystal » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:09 am

RandyGibbons wrote:
There's lots more out there, but to narrow the search: Is your intention to learn and use the classically restored pronunciation, or Koine, or modern Greek? (And I'm assuming you know the difference?) Are you learning and practicing your pronunciation in your early stage of learning Greek, or is it more that you've learned the fundamentals of Greek and have reached a stage where you want to improve/perfect your pronunciation? If the former, you probably want to pick an approach and stay with it consistently. If the latter, you may be more willing to experiment.

Randy Gibbons
I assumed there was something like a standard pronunciation modern English-speaking scholars tend to use (which I stupidly called "proper"), and I assumed the same applied to pitch. I also forgot to specify that I meant reconstructed pronunciation.

I've only been at greek for a bit over two weeks! I've just started learning and am trying to practice my pronunciation. I'll take your advice and stick to a single approach - I was just hoping to get going with the standard pronunciation that scholars use. Thanks for the resources!

I plan to work with Koine texts to a lesser extent than with Attic texts, and a few closely related other kinds (e.g. Herodotus).
Last edited by Wishfulcrystal on Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Videos or audio which teach proper pronunciation and pit

Post by jeidsath » Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:10 pm

The closest thing to a standard for academic pronunciation of Attic Greek is described in Allen's Vox Graeca. Schools in the UK have been following a "scientific pronunciation" that more or less conforms to it since the end of the 19th century. This replaced an 18th-century pronunciation scheme called "Erasmian" which was was reasonably accurate in Erasmus' day, but lost accuracy in English-speaking countries due to the great English vowel shift.

(Here's an American explaining the great English vowel shift with a Texan accent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOfYck3J3e0)

A copy of Vox Graeca (it's written in English despite the Latin title) and the resources at forvo.com are a good start to Greek pronunciation. But make sure that you listen to British BBC pronunciations, otherwise you'll get into trouble with ω and ο! We Americans pronounce "father" and "saw" differently, and Allen uses these as demonstration words.

Randall Buth has been a big proponent of "spoken Koine" in recent years. This pronunciation is a modern Greek pronunciation with some vowel quality modifications, taken from Horrocks' description of 4th century A.D. Koine.

And then there is modern Greek, used by many. The unfortunate thing about modern Greek is that the dozens of vowel quality distinctions maintained by the ancients (of both length and quality), have collapsed down to 8 in modern Greek. Length distinction has completely disappeared and many vowels sound like word "E" from the English phrase "the letter E." This is known as iotization.

The quality collapse in modern Greek makes it impossible to tell important words like "you" (ὑμεῖς) from "us" (ἡμεῖς). The quantity collapse makes it impossible to read Greek poetry. On the other hand, many people have no trouble with using the Modern or Buth/Horrocks pronunciations for reading the Bible or later Greek Patristic writers.

The pitch accent is a more complicated subject. Pitch accents are difficult. You can look up videos of foreigners speaking Japanese or Norwegian to verify this to yourself. Also, properly reconstructing a pitch-accent is impossible. While we know (through a glass darkly) the word-level pitch properties of ancient Greek, we don't know the phrase-level properties. Classicists tend to either use stress like the modern Greeks do (and in fact Allen suggests doing this) or make bad attempts at pitch. Personally, though I am no classicist, I make bad attempts at pitch. The stress accent, I have found, tends to interfere with poetry.

Diphthongs are complicated by the presence of glides, and it's worth reading the chapters on Allen for information here. The only real question in long diphthongs. Allen suggests to drop them entirely, as Greek did sometime after the second century B.C., but many of us attempt them on various schemes.

The following video is my own attempt at the alphabet. (This is after about 4 years of Greek study and reading Greek aloud, so it represents a beginner's attempt to give you an idea rather than anything authoritative):

https://youtu.be/mm2MNIJ5zd4

The alphabet video is iambic verse, each line a repetition of three "di-dah di-dah" segments. In English poetry we do "unstressed-stressed" for the "di-dah" metron, but the Greeks did "short syllable-long syllable." The pitch accent (which I attempt, but badly, as mentioned before) would matter for the tune if it were sung, but does not affect the rhythm of the verse.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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