Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

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deinonysus
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Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by deinonysus » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:39 pm

Hi everyone, I just started learning Homeric Greek using Pharr. I like to read or out loud and I want my pronunciation to be as accurate as I can get it. I'm a language learning hobbyist and I speak French and German and I've dabbled in a bunch of other languages, including Icelandic (so I don't have an issue with the aspiration contrast) and Japanese and Norwegian (so I think I'm able to fake a decent pitch accent).

I started with a public domain edition of Pharr that seemed to teach Erasmian pronunciation, and I just got the 4th edition which also includes restored (Attic I think?) pronunciation. But I've been reading the Wikipedia page on Ancient Greek phonology which points out that ει, ου, and υι would have still been diphthongs when the Iliad and Odyssey were written, and the iota subscripts on long vowels were still pronounced until the Koine era.

That brings me to my first question, which is about the difference between ει and ῃ. So, they are both strong syllables because they are both diphthongs. But ῃ must be even longer than ει, or else there wouldn't be a difference. So would it be a superlong syllable? So for example, would this be correct:

ε - length 1
ει - length 2
ῃ - length 3

And would this also apply to closed syllables with a long vowel, such as ην or ων? Would those also have a length of three?

So in this case, would a foot have a variable length of between four (no superlong syllables) and six (two superlong syllables)? Or is the time not quite as strict as all that and maybe I'm overthinking it?

I also has a second question that is unrelated to pronunciation. I'm in chapter 3 of Pharr and I noticed that an adjective can come either before or after the noun. I didn't notice an explanation for this. Is there a semantic difference between, say, βουλή καλή and καλή βουλή, or is there just a difference in emphasis?

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jeidsath
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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by jeidsath » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:27 pm

But ῃ must be even longer than ει, or else there wouldn't be a difference.
Metrically there is no difference, and it's hard to know more. Some languages (e.g., Hawaiian) have extra long vowels/diphthongs distinguished only by length, but Allen suggests a quality difference as more likely for Greek. Following him, the Cambridge Greek Grammar gives the following:

ε [e] -- fatal, Fr. clė
η [εː] -- air, Fr. tête
ει [eː], but [ei] in Homer, -- made, Germ. Beet. Homer eight, hey
ῃ [εːi] -- Fr. appareil

Forvo:

clé
tête
Beet
appareil
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:02 pm

Like Joel says, if you're reading aloud then the important thing is whether they are different metrically, which it's clear they're not from lots and lots of examples in Homer.

For instance, the penultimate (long) syllable in both of these lines:

ὃς δὴ γήραϊ κυφὸς ἔην καὶ μυρία ᾔδη. (Odyssey 2.16)

τοῦ ὅ γε δάκρυ χέων ἀγορήσατο καὶ μετέειπε: (Odyssey 2.24)

Perhaps of interest to you though is Martin West's calculation that a long syllable/position is 5/6 the length of two short syllables. I.e. in καὶ μετέειπε in the line above καὶ is 5/6 of the length of μετέ . I don't know if anybody attempts to follow West's suggestion though! I get the impression most people pronounce a long as the same length as two shorts, and ει and ῃ basically identically.
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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:09 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:27 pm

ει [e:], but [ei] in Homer, -- made, Germ. Beet. Homer eight, hey
ῃ [ε:i] -- Fr. appareil
Is it just me that can't hear the difference between eight and appareil? I'm surprised they used an example coming after a French r rather than, say, soleil.
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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by jeidsath » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:32 pm

Perhaps of interest to you though is Martin West's calculation that a long syllable/position is 5/6 the length of two short syllables.
I find it unlikely that vowel length was ever so regular. Modern languages are not. There's a base length from the mechanics of your mouth and larynx, but there is lots of variation within speech and performance.
Is it just me that can't hear the difference between eight and appareil?
Well, going by the IPA symbols, we have [ei] vs [εːi]. The first means "unrounded front short close-mid vowel making a diphthong with an unrounded front short close vowel." The second means "unrounded front long open-mid vowel making a diphthong with an unrounded front short close vowel."

So it really just restates some of the discussion here. Allen would suggest that you try to distinguish [ei] and [εːi] by the close-mid versus open-mid starting point rather than trying to make a length distinction (the ː part). I've personally found, after some years of trying it the other way, that it's much easier to do it Allen's way.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by deinonysus » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:56 pm

Thanks so much for the great feedback everyone!
seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:09 pm
jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:27 pm

ει [e:], but [ei] in Homer, -- made, Germ. Beet. Homer eight, hey
ῃ [ε:i] -- Fr. appareil
Is it just me that can't hear the difference between eight and appareil? I'm surprised they used an example coming after a French r rather than, say, soleil.
I see from your profile that you're in Wales but I'm guessing that jeidsath is from my side of the pond. We don't really have the same kind of vowel length distinctions in American English as you have in the UK. I pronounce the "eigh" in eight as shorter than the "eil" in "Pareil", but in the UK they may be pronounced the same.

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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:03 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:32 pm
I find it unlikely that vowel length was ever so regular. Modern languages are not. There's a base length from the mechanics of your mouth and larynx, but there is lots of variation within speech and performance.
I'm not sure West was that convinced by his own workings, tbph.
jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:32 pm
Is it just me that can't hear the difference between eight and appareil?
Well, going by the IPA symbols, we have [ei] vs [εːi]. The first means "unrounded front short close-mid vowel making a diphthong with an unrounded front short close vowel." The second means "unrounded front long open-mid vowel making a diphthong with an unrounded front short close vowel."

I've got no beef with the IPA symbols - I'm just wondering whether I pronounce eight like I'm a Parisian? The use of εː for tête also seems weird - surely that's tɛt? It's certainly not the same sound as air. Maybe the editors just speak French with a funky accent.

Edit: I hadn't even noticed this!?! Is that really what they suggest in the Cambridge grammar?
jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:32 pm
"ε [e] -- fatal"
Last edited by seanjonesbw on Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:17 pm

deinonysus wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:56 pm
I see from your profile that you're in Wales but I'm guessing that jeidsath is from my side of the pond. We don't really have the same kind of vowel length distinctions in American English as you have in the UK. I pronounce the "eigh" in eight as shorter than the "eil" in "Pareil", but in the UK they may be pronounced the same.
Quite possibly! I do really like to savour every moment of the ei in eight.

I don't know where you're at with hexameter, but these videos by Leonard Muellner are good if you're just starting out:

https://kosmossociety.chs.harvard.edu/?p=16345
https://kosmossociety.chs.harvard.edu/?p=37856

I notice we didn't answer your second question
deinonysus wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:56 pm
I also has a second question that is unrelated to pronunciation. I'm in chapter 3 of Pharr and I noticed that an adjective can come either before or after the noun. I didn't notice an explanation for this. Is there a semantic difference between, say, βουλή καλή and καλή βουλή, or is there just a difference in emphasis?
In later Greek, which has the definite article (same form as the demonstrative article in Homeric, Pharr 766 (p.260)), the position of the article and the adjective determine whether the meaning is predicative (the man is beautiful) or attributive (the beautiful man). Others might be able to provide some finer distinction, but in Homeric Greek the meaning of the adjective is usually determined by its context rather than the position, and its position is in large part determined by the metre.

That's quite an annoying explanation, I know, especially when Pharr asks you to translate into Greek. Here are some real examples of καλός from Homer with the adjective and noun it is modifying underlined.

ποσσὶ δʼ ὑπὸ λιπαροῖσιν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα, - adj. before (sandals)
αὐτὰρ ὅ γʼ ἀμφʼ ὤμοισιν ἐδύσετο τεύχεα καλὰ - adj. after (tools)

ἀλλά που ἐν μεγάροισι Λυκάονος ἕνδεκα δίφροι
καλοὶ πρωτοπαγεῖς νεοτευχέες· ἀμφὶ δὲ πέπλοι here δίφροι (chariots) is followed by three adjectives!
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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by deinonysus » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:13 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:27 pm
Metrically there is no difference, and it's hard to know more. Some languages (e.g., Hawaiian) have extra long vowels/diphthongs distinguished only by length, but Allen suggests a quality difference as more likely for Greek. Following him, the Cambridge Greek Grammar gives the following:

ε [e] -- fatal, Fr. clė
η [εː] -- air, Fr. tête
ει [eː], but [ei] in Homer, -- made, Germ. Beet. Homer eight, hey
ῃ [εːi] -- Fr. appareil

Forvo:

clé
tête
Beet
appareil
Does Allen use IPA in Vox Graeca? And how much does he talk about the differences between Attic and Homeric Greek pronunciation? Also, how accessible is it to someone who is an absolute beginner in Greek but has a good general knowledge of the IPA and phonology? I'm thinking of picking up a copy.


seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:17 pm
deinonysus wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:56 pm
I see from your profile that you're in Wales but I'm guessing that jeidsath is from my side of the pond. We don't really have the same kind of vowel length distinctions in American English as you have in the UK. I pronounce the "eigh" in eight as shorter than the "eil" in "Pareil", but in the UK they may be pronounced the same.
Quite possibly! I do really like to savour every moment of the ei in eight.

I don't know where you're at with hexameter, but these videos by Leonard Muellner are good if you're just starting out:

https://kosmossociety.chs.harvard.edu/?p=16345
https://kosmossociety.chs.harvard.edu/?p=37856

I notice we didn't answer your second question
deinonysus wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:56 pm
I also has a second question that is unrelated to pronunciation. I'm in chapter 3 of Pharr and I noticed that an adjective can come either before or after the noun. I didn't notice an explanation for this. Is there a semantic difference between, say, βουλή καλή and καλή βουλή, or is there just a difference in emphasis?
In later Greek, which has the definite article (same form as the demonstrative article in Homeric, Pharr 766 (p.260)), the position of the article and the adjective determine whether the meaning is predicative (the man is beautiful) or attributive (the beautiful man). Others might be able to provide some finer distinction, but in Homeric Greek the meaning of the adjective is usually determined by its context rather than the position, and its position is in large part determined by the metre.

That's quite an annoying explanation, I know, especially when Pharr asks you to translate into Greek. Here are some real examples of καλός from Homer with the adjective and noun it is modifying underlined.

ποσσὶ δʼ ὑπὸ λιπαροῖσιν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα, - adj. before (sandals)
αὐτὰρ ὅ γʼ ἀμφʼ ὤμοισιν ἐδύσετο τεύχεα καλὰ - adj. after (tools)

ἀλλά που ἐν μεγάροισι Λυκάονος ἕνδεκα δίφροι
καλοὶ πρωτοπαγεῖς νεοτευχέες· ἀμφὶ δὲ πέπλοι here δίφροι (chariots) is followed by three adjectives!
I haven't gotten to section on Hexameter yet, but I have a background in theater and I'm familiar with scansion in English Iambic Pentameter, so I think I have an idea of what to expect. I'll check those videos out!

Does Homeric Greek have a default order of noun and adjective in a non-verse context? Or is there not enough of a non-verse corpus to really say?

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Re: Long and superlong syllables (ει vs ῃ), and word order question

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:55 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:17 pm
I haven't gotten to section on Hexameter yet, but I have a background in theater and I'm familiar with scansion in English Iambic Pentameter, so I think I have an idea of what to expect. I'll check those videos out!
If you're into performance, you'll love dactylic hexameter. An important (and surprising, for me at least) difference between English poetic metre and dactylic hexameter in Homer is that whereas every foot in iambic pentameter (at least in theory) is an iamb, giving you that regular rise and fall every other syllable, dactylic hexameter contains a mixture of dactyls and spondees which changes with every line (although the last two syllables always form a spondee). There are rules that take a bit of getting used to but it's very satisfying.

You can try reading Longfellow's Evangeline to get a feel of the shifting mix of dactyls and spondees (with English stress instead of Greek vowel length) - https://www.bartleby.com/42/791.html
seanjonesbw wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:17 pm
Does Homeric Greek have a default order of noun and adjective in a non-verse context? Or is there not enough of a non-verse corpus to really say?
There are some very knowledgeable voices on textkit who can give you a better answer on the first question than I can. For the second, Homeric Greek is a literary dialect with influences (and very archaic 'preserved' segments) from spoken dialects (Aeolic and Ionic, with a kind of 'Attic filter' applied when it was written down) and which, as far as I know, didn't have a prose or spoken equivalent at any one point that there is a written record of. If you can get your hands on it, I think Adam Nicolson's "The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters" is a very good and extremely readable introduction to the world which produced the Iliad and Odyssey.
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