Let's get real!

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.

Do you clearly distinguish ει and η in your mind/ear/voice?

1) Yes, and it is easy,
3
30%
2) Yes, but it is hard,
3
30%
3) No, but it is easy, I'm just lazy.
1
10%
4) No, and it is hard.
3
30%
 
Total votes: 10

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Let's get real!

Post by pster » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:42 pm

I just checked my Langenscheidt--sad day when you have to go to Germans to learn how to pronounce French!--and they indicate ɛ: for même but ɛ for très. I've always tried to be aware of the distinctions between ɛ:, ɛ and e, at least since my university days anyway. My professor was the head of the department, was British, and had all the personality of a steel wool pad, but had learned all her French in a vacuum (or so the story went) and so was a hyper-stickler for detail, and I still remember her making a big deal about how to pronounce tête. So after that class I made a point of mastering the phonetic alphabet in my dictionary. The next year Francophones told me that I sounded very Parisian. :mrgreen:

User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Posts: 1958
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Let's get real!

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:38 pm

Yes, Brel's ê is particularly open to my ear. Maybe that doesn't mean anything. Maybe I'm just voicing my own uncertainty about French e and ɛ like you're voicing yours about Greek ει and η. Anyway, I think the problems are analogous.

As far as I know, difference between vowel quantity is never phonemical in French, so I wouldn't worry about ɛ: and ɛ. I think quantity changes according to position in the clause, emphasis etc. I'm not so sure though, it comes naturally to me, since I've never really read those rules in a book.

And yeah, I can imagine how it makes you sound like a Parisian. Pronounce all those final e's and you'll sound like you're from Marseilles...

Btw, Markos' suggestion sounded pretty good to me.

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Let's get real!

Post by pster » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:04 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Yes, Brel's ê is particularly open to my ear. Maybe that doesn't mean anything. Maybe I'm just voicing my own uncertainty about French e and ɛ like you're voicing yours about Greek ει and η. Anyway, I think the problems are analogous.
Aren't there two issues that you have put on the table?
ɛ: vs. ɛ in Brel's même and today's même,
ɛ vs. e in allait and allé.
Paul Derouda wrote: As far as I know, difference between vowel quantity is never phonemical in French.
I'd like to pretend I know what you mean, but I don't. Can you explain this? Do you mean that there is no utterance whose meaning would change if we changed a short vowel to a long one or vice versa?
Paul Derouda wrote: Btw, Markos' suggestion sounded pretty good to me.
I don't like Maaarkos' suggestion any more than Scriiibo's. a:/a and i:/i are already oversubscribed.
Last edited by pster on Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Let's get real!

Post by pster » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:14 pm

il vs. île is i vs i:

Wouldn't that difference in quantity be phonemical?

User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Posts: 1958
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Let's get real!

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:59 pm

My dictionary says gives il [il] and île [il], même [mɛm] and très [trɛ]. I would usually pronounce all these vowels short. I could also pronounce all of these long in some contexts, probably even il, I can't say exactly when but I think it has to do with emphasis or clause position or something.

I had another look at the Wikipedia article: "With the exception of the distinction made by some speakers between /ɛ/ and /ɛː/ in rare minimal pairs like mettre [mɛtʁ] ('to put') vs. maître [mɛːtʁ] ('teacher'), variation in vowel length is entirely allophonic." So maybe that's part of what surprises me about Brel's ê, though I still suspect his ɛ is more open than mine...

So if your sources say [mɛ:m], maybe that reflects "some speakers's" way of speaking which some other people consider standard.

Argh, I don't know, haven't ever properly studied this stuff except by speaking.

Markos' suggestion is an ok approximation in my opinion if we don't seem to be able to nail down [ɛ:] and [e:] properly with our linguistic backgrounds.

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Let's get real!

Post by pster » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:20 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:My dictionary says gives il [il] and île [il], même [mɛm] and très [trɛ]. I would usually pronounce all these vowels short. I could also pronounce all of these long in some contexts, probably even il, I can't say exactly when but I think it has to do with emphasis or clause position or something.

I had another look at the Wikipedia article: "With the exception of the distinction made by some speakers between /ɛ/ and /ɛː/ in rare minimal pairs like mettre [mɛtʁ] ('to put') vs. maître [mɛːtʁ] ('teacher'), variation in vowel length is entirely allophonic." So maybe that's part of what surprises me about Brel's ê, though I still suspect his ɛ is more open than mine...

So if your sources say [mɛ:m], maybe that reflects "some speakers's" way of speaking which some other people consider standard.

Argh, I don't know, haven't ever properly studied this stuff except by speaking.

Markos' suggestion is an ok approximation in my opinion if we don't seem to be able to nail down [ɛ:] and [e:] properly with our linguistic backgrounds.

It seems like your dictionary doesn't use the colon at all. Am I right about that?
The online French dictionary I use is like that. My understanding is that the phonetic alphabet rarely fully deployed and what one gets is some simplification depending on who the audience is. I love precision and tradition, but if my dictionary used the full alphabet, I'd change my ways.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... t_2005.png

User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Posts: 2739
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe
Contact:

Re: Let's get real!

Post by daivid » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:24 am

It seems to me that the pronunciation that you need to use depends on how you intend to use Greek.
If you just intend to read and write, as long as each grapheme is distinct it doesn't matter how you pronounce them. To be able to convert the letters into some sound in your head is an important part of learning a word . ie phonemes suffice.

If you want to upload videos to youtube then you have to conform to other peoples expectations
(even when those expectations are wrong).

I don't really get poetry but that I imagine is the one area where it is important to be able to get the exact sound of the poet would have spoken.
λονδον

User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Posts: 1958
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Let's get real!

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:51 am

pster wrote:
It seems like your dictionary doesn't use the colon at all. Am I right about that?
The online French dictionary I use is like that. My understanding is that the phonetic alphabet rarely fully deployed and what one gets is some simplification depending on who the audience is. I love precision and tradition, but if my dictionary used the full alphabet, I'd change my ways.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... t_2005.png
I checked Petit Robert too, which I think is the best French monolingual dictionary. They don't seem to distinguish different quantities of ɛ and they explicitly call mettre and maître homonyms. Check their introduction under "Evolution du système vocalique".

User avatar
Scribo
Global Moderator
Posts: 854
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia (ok sometimes Athens).

Re: Let's get real!

Post by Scribo » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:32 am

daivid wrote:It seems to me that the pronunciation that you need to use depends on how you intend to use Greek.
If you just intend to read and write, as long as each grapheme is distinct it doesn't matter how you pronounce them. To be able to convert the letters into some sound in your head is an important part of learning a word . ie phonemes suffice.

If you want to upload videos to youtube then you have to conform to other peoples expectations
(even when those expectations are wrong).


I don't really get poetry but that I imagine is the one area where it is important to be able to get the exact sound of the poet would have spoken.
Which is one of the reasons why I honestly can not be bothered. See, if it was someone who has actually spent some time on the topic criticism would be interesting. If someone has an aeshetic reason, I actually find that interesting too. However, when you get these idiots who haven't even seen a book on linguistics commenting with the surety a panel of experts would not dare have on any subject it annoys me. Look over some of the good videos on YT to see the comments I mean "you bro beta is vita, c is actually che" and so on.

You know, I thought of putting something up here of me reading the vowels but I can't work out the best way to do it. Youtube seems a silly idea.
(Occasionally) Working on the following tutorials:

(P)Aristotle, Theophrastus and Peripatetic Greek
Intro Greek Poetry
Latin Historical Prose

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Let's get real!

Post by pster » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:22 pm

OK, what was tricking me is this: when the ɛι dipthong gave way to a pure vowel in the fifth century, it closed quite a bit. Makes perfect sense because of the iota. But I was led astray by a certain author's often deeply annoying pedagogy. Said author will remain nameless.

Now I can set up a correspondence with French--although Paul probably won't like it:

ɛι=/eː/=(long) close mid front as in aller except a bit longer.

η=/ɛː/=long open mid front as in tête

ɛ=/ɛ/=short open mid front as in très

So, the key thing is that ɛ has more in common with η than it does with ɛι.

What would have been really cool is to hear the early Attic distinction between ɛι and ῃ, but we'll have to leave that for another day. :mrgreen:
Last edited by pster on Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Post Reply