Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

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Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by scrambledeggs » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:43 am

Ok, the first thing I did was buy the Daitz CD's on pronouncing the restored classical way, and make sure I had it. I take great pains in correct phonology and accent since poetry should be read in that way, and also I find it to be the soul and beauty of the language, in the unique accent and sounds of each language, especially the elegant pitch accent which makes stress accents sound barbaric to me, and the unique "puhtah" of unEnglish sounds like φθ that starts a word,

I heard though, through the internet, a classroom recording of a teacher speaking Ancient greek to her class, I think in fact they are online transcripts, but all these βάρβαροι, (Hope I have that accent mark right), to my shock she was sounding WEIRD with arabic like "ch" and dental fricatives, when I realized she was using modern greek phonology entirely. I know my basic linguistics, languages change, and that is that, but something offends me about the incorrect use of phonology on Classical attic. Especially the modern greeks presumption that there is no difference between modern and ancient pronunciations.

Is it wrong for me to hold non-pitch accenters in contempt? I view the pitch accent and the restored classical method as something of great historical and aethetic value, but sadly it requires effort and scholarship to understand and accept that modern greek's pronunciations are anachronistic when applied to the age of Pericles.

Pericles simply did not go "cchhh"

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by modus.irrealis » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:36 pm

I would say that being offended and contemptuous is a bit overboard ;)

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by thesaurus » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:19 am

Yes, it's anachronistic and unfortunate, but it's also become a matter of tradition and habit that won't change anytime soon. As you say, a correct understanding of Ancient Greek phonetics is important for fully appreciating poetry and the language's rhythm. However, when it comes to reading, pronunciation (alas) falls to the wayside. People commonly adopt the method that is practical or expected of them. The way it distorts the language's character is surely overcome by the number of people who can learn the language more easily with a simplified pronunciation.

I've heard that Greeks don't really view Ancient Greek and Modern Greek as two separate languages, but rather treat them as a continuum. Given this viewpoint, it's natural that they continue to speak the way they do today while reading older texts.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Scribo » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:39 pm

Calm down, I'd say being offended is a touch too far. In fact more a leap and a bound too far, I understand you may have a preference and, like me, feel that forcing modern phonology onto the ancient tongue is horrid, but none the less you're being a bit extravagant.

Incidentally I am familiar with mod Greek and the way it sounds and I do think it makes Anc Greek sound pretty awful and that the arguments for using a modern pronunciation are convoluted and erroneous. Still I'm far from OFFENDED...
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Markos » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:50 pm

You cannot control how you feel. Nothing wrong with being offended by how something sounds to you. I have no doubt that you get more out of Ancient Greek poetry by pronouncing it the way you think it was pronounced at the time. Would I get more out of Chaucer or even Shakespeare if I bothered to take the time to try to figure out how it was pronounced at the time and pronounce it that way instead of in a way which sounds fine and natural to me? Probably? Would I bother? No. Am I offended when Americans speak Shakespeare with an American accent? I'm not, but I understand why one would be.

I prefer a pronunciation which sounds the way I would speak Ancient Greek and is one that is easiest to understand. For me this is American Erasmianism. You probably know that many Modern Greeks are even more offended by Erasmian than you are by Modern Greek. It's all good. To be offended is to be human.
For what it is worth, I find reconstructed Attic to be by far the MOST dificult to understand when read aloud. I find the attempt to reconstruct the pitch accents annoying and a little silly.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Damoetas » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:32 pm

I can certainly empathize with the feeling.... It always makes me cringe when I hear people read Greek with a bad American accent, or a bad British or German or French or New Zealand accent, no matter what style of Greek pronunciation they're aiming for.

But I think it's important to remember that we don't reeeeeeeally know what Classical Attic sounded like. Yes, we can be confident that Daitz and others have reconstructed the phonemes and pitch accents fairly accurately. But these are far from the only factors that contribute to the overall sound of a language (or it's "soul and beauty," or "elegance," as you put it). For instance, we can never know what range of allophonic variation existed between the phonemes. We can never know how sounds influenced surrounding sounds, except to a very limited degree -- for instance, we know from spelling mistakes in papyri and inscriptions that nasal assimilation happened across word boundaries: τὸν πρῶτον was pronounced τὸμ πρῶτον, τὴν κεφαλὴν was τὴγ κεφαλήν, etc. But many similar processes could have operated and never impacted the orthography, and we would never know about them. For instance, in modern English, we know from spelling that "it is" contracts to "it's." But if someone has never heard English spoken, would they ever guess that the "t" is usually dropped in "it would"? (At least in American English, at normal conversational speed.) We can only guess at the intonation contour across the course of a whole Greek sentence. We can not know how "forcefully" the syllables were articulated, whether people spoke with more or less throat constriction, advanced tongue root, or any of a whole range of phenomena that have a huge impact on the subjective impression of what a language "sounds like."

Does anyone think that reading a textbook description of the phonology of Thai, or Mandarin, or Italian -- even one written by a linguist -- would enable someone who has never heard those languages to pronounce them even remotely similar to how a native speaker would pronounce them in continuous discourse? Would they even come close to capturing what we regard as the "essence" or "soul" of their distinctive sound? I defy anyone to try. And until they do, no one has any right to be too conceited about the "purity" of their Ancient Greek reconstruction.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by scrambledeggs » Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:09 pm

An excellent reply, and no doubt true, but I would add that while the details can never be known, still, we know that beta was a bilabial, and not a dental-labial. Therefore, whatever the failings of the restored accent may be, it is still more accurate by far in core phonology than modern Greek, or even worse, American-Englished Ancient Greek. That one method is imperfect should not make us conclude that it is still not the best available option.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by rustymason » Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:34 pm

I have listened to some of the acclaimed audio of "properly" spoken ancient Greek and cannot believe that scholars have yet discovered the right sound which would have made so many claim Greek was a beautiful sounding language. Myself, I am constantly trying out new accents, combining Swedish and Chinese or Japanese pitch accents with Welsh and French pronunciations. These utterances come closer to something my modern European ears would prefer. I wonder how others' experiments along these lines have turned out.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Damoetas » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:04 pm

rustymason wrote:I have listened to some of the acclaimed audio of "properly" spoken ancient Greek and cannot believe that scholars have yet discovered the right sound which would have made so many claim Greek was a beautiful sounding language. Myself, I am constantly trying out new accents, combining Swedish and Chinese or Japanese pitch accents with Welsh and French pronunciations. These utterances come closer to something my modern European ears would prefer. I wonder how others' experiments along these lines have turned out.
Hey Rusty,

That's an interesting suggestion.... What I personally aim for is not so much to make it sound like any specific modern language, but rather to subtract the features that are distinctively English. For instance, we know that the vowels would have been pure sounds, not glides. The t's and d's would have been dental, not alveolar. The unaspirated stops would have been unaspirated -- incidentally, I think that's a much harder feature for English speakers to reproduce: it's pretty easy to aspirate theta, phi, and chi; the trick is to de-aspirate tau, pi, and kappa, and to maintain the contrast consistently. (Listening to Hindi can help with that.) As far as the pitch accent, to me it seems kind of pointless to pronounce some kind of elaborate rising and falling contour, which is bound to come almost entirely from your own imagination. I just try to give the accented syllables a higher pitch -- and maybe give the circumflex a falling tone (as in Serbo-Croatian). It seems like that is as close as we can realistically get to ancient pronunciation; anything more specific is impossible to prove or disprove, and not really worth the effort.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by rustymason » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:04 pm

Good ideas, though much of what you said is 10 feet over my head. I'll investigate.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by scrambledeggs » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:27 pm

rustymason wrote:I have listened to some of the acclaimed audio of "properly" spoken ancient Greek . . .

I am glad you are listening and attempting to recreate the classical accent. However I am somewhat thrown off by your message in that you use the word acclaimed (in presumably a facetious manner), and place the word properly in quotes. Are you questioning the general historical linguistical validity of the restored classical accent? See Vox Graeca: The Pronunciation of Classical Greek by W.S. Allen, for an in-depth examination of how the experts have recreated the pronunciation.

In any case, I think the pitch accent, if not in fact then in spirit, is not so difficult that it requires you to imitate Swedish or Chinese prosody. In fact, you simply rise the pitch of your voice instead of the volume of it. It is not that difficult once you practice it for a few minutes.

In fact, your mention of Chinese seems bizarre to me, as the Chinese languages' tonal system is utterly different in every possible way from Greek and a simply pitch accent, and whatever accent Greek had.

I advise you to stop imitating Germanic or other Barbaric languages and instead try Daitz's Pronunciation and Reading of Ancient Greek: A Practical Guide to have what I think is the best chance of making a fairly close approximation of the Greek of Pericles and Cleon.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by rustymason » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:30 pm

Perhaps I am unable to separate myself from my environment and time. But I have listened to many recordings of ancient Greek, none of which I could listen to without wincing. We are told that foreigners heard a beautiful song of a language when listening to the Greeks speak. Unfortunately, this foreigner cannot report the same. No offense, just being honest.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by quendidil » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:05 am

rustymason wrote:Perhaps I am unable to separate myself from my environment and time. But I have listened to many recordings of ancient Greek, none of which I could listen to without wincing. We are told that foreigners heard a beautiful song of a language when listening to the Greeks speak. Unfortunately, this foreigner cannot report the same. No offense, just being honest.
While I wouldn't as far as reporting wincing, I'd tend to agree with you. At most, reconsructed Greek recordings sound ordinary if a little unnatural, at worst, they sound absolutely horrible; I'd put Daitz nearer to the latter end of the spectrum.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by rustymason » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:42 am

I feel like such a heretic.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Swth\r » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:59 pm

At first some questions as a quick reply. When somenone reads Shakespeare, does (s)he have to pronounce the text the way Shakespeare spoke? And what about Homer? Does anyone have to read in a different way than when (s)he reads classic Attic? And what about Doric, Aeolic forms? An -A- in Sparta or in Thebes was really pronounced like an -A- in Athens? What about Pindar, or Sappho, or Archilochus?

These are the problem with languages not any more spoken ... And as I think there can be enough freedom to different pronounciation.

But I would like us to take under consideration the following thinking. In scholarship there is the tradition of writing Greek the way the texts have reached us, and not of course in capitals, or without separating or yphenating the words etc. Why should anyone ignore the phonetic developement in Greek up to now and take up the restored pronounciation as he only way to learn and speak Greek?

As Greek myself I have only one answer to the above: because the - so called- Erasmic, or better the scientifically restored by historical linguistics pronounciation makes indeed huge difference in comprehending poetry, metric, accentuation, rhythm, as already said. And nothing else... Nevertheless, this is only of scienticic-scholarly importance, not of aesthetic at all in my opinion.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Adelheid » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:32 pm

I must confess that for me Ancient Greek has no sound at all. I have tried to read Homer out loud, following the meter, trying a pitch (and failing miserably at that last one, I have no clue), but when I do that, I fail to understand what I am reading.

Recently I listened to a rendering of Euripides' "Orestes Stasimo" by Atrium Musica de Madrid & Gregorio Paniagua (another rendering here).

Text is:

κατολοφύρομαι κατολοφύρομαι.
ματέρος αἷμα σᾶς, ὅ σ᾽ἀναβακχεύει.
ὁ μέγας ὄλβος οὐ μόνιμος ἐν βροτοῖς:
ἀνὰ δὲ λαῖφος ὥς
τις ἀκάτου θοᾶς τινάξας δαίμων
κατέκλυσεν δεινῶν πόνων ὡς πόντου
λάβροις ὀλεθρίοισιν ἐν κύμασιν.

Same effect. Although I liked it a lot, the whole atmosphere of the piece, I was unable to follow the text, even after having read the lyrics and having learnt them by heart for this purpose. Is this song doing anything with pitch anyway?
Last edited by Adelheid on Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Lex » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:22 am

rustymason wrote:I feel like such a heretic.
You're not alone. I heard one of Daitz' recordings once, and, after I got done laughing, I got down on my knees and prayed to God Almighty that ancient Greek did not really sound like that. That's not because I think Daitz did anything in particular wrong, not being knowledgable enough to say, but simply because it sounded overly dramatized and silly to my ear. It sounded like a cross between the stereotypes of an old-timey southern (US) political orator and a Swede.

BTW, for those who hate hearing things in a poor accent, you'll love to hate Brad Pitt's Italian accent in Inglourious Basterds. But maybe that's just me. I am mainly of German extraction, and Germans don't have a good ear for Italian. :wink:
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by scrambledeggs » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:40 pm

Two of you have cast doubt on the beauty of Daitz's accent. I have to agree that his recordings are off-putting, although not quite as horrible as some have claimed, but I also think he is deliberately overdoing it in order to demonstrate the accent for academic purposes. I also know he is not a voice actor but just really some college Prof trying to make an academic recording. They were also made in the early 1980's on tape. Since almost no one other than academics seems to know the restored accent, and the classics in the West seem to be strongly biased in favor of latin, he doesn't have much competition, so perhaps we are biased ourselves against the accent when a 30-year old recording of an academic has now become the standard for the pronunciation of Pericles (alliteration!)

In contrast about the Latin bias, there is a recent "fake Cicero" recording by John Hall, "Performing Cicero's Pro Archia DVD", where he is on camera, complete in authentic period Toga; there seems to just be a lot more interest in Living Latin rather than living Classical Greek.

I understand the feeling you get about Daitz, but I think it relates only to his own idiosyncratic style, and if performed by a voice actor or someone with a skilled ear (a Bard? Lyre player? That's what foreigners would have heard and remembered, I would think?), the inherit quality of the language would be expressed more effectively. To be blunt, the guy is a professor, and may have no musical training at all, for all I know. The guy is not a siren, for Phoebus' sake! (Allusion!)

I also think we shouldn't have exaggerated views of how beautiful it is; I still think it is beautiful, but in a more delicate sense, as with its careful pitches, and the distinctive circumflex pitch and delay, and the fearless consonant clusters, such as φθ starting a word (expose the Barbarians! Shibboleth!) but all words end in a vowel, nu, or sigma (I think). This to me gives Attic a distinct and delicate sound, and yes beautiful if spoken beautifully, as any language can be so if done so.

I think the better view is not that classical Greek is more beautiful than another language, but rather that its beauty is in its uniqueness of sound, and delicate-sounding pitch accent, which to me sounds quite the opposite as the rougher German-sounding stress accent that is present even in Latin. No one accuses Castillian or Parisian French of not being beautiful languages, but as fine as they are, the vowel lengths and pitches of Attic sets it apart in a certain way that I appreciate.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Scribo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:40 pm

Fully agree, I think that the scholarship on pronunciation is certainly valuable and an approximate sound is rather useful for working with poetry. Regardless 90% of the recordings I've heard have sounded absolutely ridiculous (there is some good stuff out there) and, as I mentioned earlier, getting "offended" by modern phonology is a massive over reaction. Spend your time on other things, like learning irregular verb stems and the third declension.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by rustymason » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:51 pm

Funny, but it seems to me that my Baptist preacher comes the closest to using the proper pitch and rhythm for ancient Greek. Maybe that's where that modern "preacher talk" way of speaking comes from, from attempts in seminary to produce that old time Greek speak. Ha, imagine the ancient Greeks all speaking like Baptist preachers!

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by 1%homeless » Sun May 02, 2010 7:42 pm

It is interesting that some say scrambledeggs is over-reacting. There have been quite a few occasions on the internet where I have witnessed Greeks reacting the same way towards standard classical pronunciation. I think it is only fair for scrambledeggs to hold modern greek pronunciation in contempt. ;-)

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by IreneY » Sun May 02, 2010 10:12 pm

So because some Greeks over-react to standard classical pronunciation it's OK for scrambledeggs (or anyone else for that matter) to over-react to modern Greek pronunciation?

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Markos » Sun May 02, 2010 11:44 pm

Sure, I understand the principle that two wrongs don't make a right, but I also see the point that it is good for everyone to see that any pronunciation can sound offensive. I never realized that Classicists were offended by Modern Greek, and somehow I think this is good to know, especially since Scramble Eggs sort of apologized ahead of time. I always thought that I was the only one who thought that attempts to replicate the pitch accents sound a little silly. I am glad to hear others say that, even if I admit that what I mean is "silly to me." Freud talked about the "Neurosis of small differences," but it has been estimated that up to 96% of all human beings are neurotic.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by IreneY » Mon May 03, 2010 2:09 am

My point is that no pronunciation is "offensive". No matter what language we're talking about but even more so for a language like ancient Greek. I've heard some foreigners pronounce modern Greek with very heavy X accent (where X stands for their native language). No "chhhh" at all (not that anyone pronounces chi like that or as in Arabic -I really wish I could pronounce the Arabic "h" sounds but I just can't), no "γ" you get the picture. I failed to be offended because who cares? I've also heard some very heavily accented English. Now wouldn't it be absolutely ridiculous to be offended in this case? Even worse than for my native language?
So even if the reconstructed pronunciation is more accurate than modern Greek, at least for Attic Greek of the classical era, I fail to see how modern Greek pronunciation can be considered "offensive". Or vice-versa obviously.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Markos » Mon May 03, 2010 4:03 am

I understand your point, Irene, and of course I agree. Penelope Cruz speaks English beautifully with a rather heavy Spanish accent, and no American would be "offended" by her English. But what I am suggesting is that to get to the point where we all agree that how we pronounce Greek means...nothing, we have to first admit that it sounds differently to us. People who get hung up on one pronunciation scheme over another really think that theirs sounds "better." To shake then from this conviction, we may need to tell them that we don't like the way it sounds, if only to wind up affirming that it is all good. Does that make sense?
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Swth\r » Mon May 03, 2010 11:24 am

The problem aesthetically is that moden Greek and "Classical" pronounciation have a huge impact on the "acoustic image" of the language. Most of the times you may think that the difference is so vast that two different languages are spoken... The pronounviation with prosody is of course much more useful for scholars.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by derekhmartin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:51 pm

I think it is perfectly acceptable to take offense at the incorrect, anachronistic pronunciation of a supposed teacher of Ancient Greek. Teachers have a duty to know their subject well and to accurately convey that knowledge to students. It seems that the current scholarly consensus on the pronunciation of Attic was settled some decades ago, so there is no excuse for a professional teacher to lack this knowledge. Nonetheless, I wonder if, when teaching students whose native tongue is Modern Greek, pronouncing the ancient language in the modern fashion makes the ancient literature feel more familiar, and perhaps even understandable, to young students who have not yet learned to decipher the older varieties of their language. If this is the case, then it is acceptable for a teacher to read texts to such students in this fashion, as a way to engage them, as long as the teacher makes it clear that the ancient language sounded quite different. Furthermore, the teacher should also recite the old Greek in its re-created native accent, so that the students understand the aural component, as we currently understand it, of the literary art of these venerated works.

I also found samples of the re-created accent of Attic to be quite ridiculous, and the rules that shape them ridiculously difficult to comprehend, when I first discovered them. But then again, when I first learned Spanish as a youngster, its pure vowels and the machine-gun like persistence of its syllables sounded ridiculous to my North American ears, and I felt "fake" when I tried to mimic its accent properly. As I continued learning and practicing, as well as conversing with native speakers, my ear for Spanish developed. I learned to appreciate its unique soundworld and to enter it at will. I found myself being struck with a flash of recognition of the beauty of the language when hearing the variety of forms of its literary art, from poetry to cinematic dialogue to creative cursing. Now my former childish bias seems quite silly, but that doesn't mean I've been cured of it. More recently, I've been learning Russian, and its soft consonants, vowel reductions, preposterous combinations of consonants and unheard of sounds such as the vowel ы, have been driving me crazy. Each language has its own soundworld that presents unique aesthetic and, in combination with its grammar and syntax, semantic opportunities. Pitch accents, as scholars understand their use in the ancient Greek and other ancient Indo-European languages, are going to sound very foreign to speakers of many, if not all, modern languages. Just because it is unfamiliar does not mean that it is ridiculous.

While it is true that we cannot know exactly how the ancient varieties of Greek sounded, that any re-creations of their sound are by definition artificial and that some new scholarly method or discovery may yet add new layers to our current understanding of their pronunciation, careful scholarship can make us nearly certain of many things, approximate in others and clear about what we do not know. The current consensus is based on well-documented analysis that one can follow if one has doubts about the conclusions that have been reached. This consensus also elucidates the craft of ancient authors within the forms of their literary work to which we now have access. Perhaps we are unable to thoroughly re-create the sound of these works as their authors and original audiences heard them, but it has been demonstrated that we can, by following the scholarly models, imitate most of what the ancients heard. One can be forgiven for not being able to perform perfectly a work composed in a foreign language, especially when one has no native models to follow. One should feel free to enjoy any literature in translation or to appreciate an historical language as a collection of morphemes that have, in much altered form, had a great impact on contemporary languages as well as contemporary life and thought. One may even recite ancient literature in what is known to be an incorrect fashion, to quote it, to cut and paste it, to add music to it, to make something new out of it (the performance posted by one of the commenters above, for example, uses a Modern Greek pronunciation, and I find its performance as a new work of music to be aesthetically pleasing). But to knowingly disregard the pronunciation that is correct as far as we know and to simultaneously claim that you are reciting Ancient Greek, that is dishonest, damaging to any attempt at an appreciation of these works in their original contexts and worthy of offense.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Michael5iLVEr » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am

I know this is old but I had to answer here.

I believe that you're too absolute. The Reconstructed Pronunciation is only speculative, as we don't have recordings from the ancient period. Let's accept that we will never have the chance to listen to the ancient authors themselves. However, it works for foreigners like you. On the other hand, as Manolis Triantafyllidis has stated in his Νεοελληνική Γραμματική, Modern Greek is the same the ancient language that endlessly being spoken by the Hellenic nation for thousand years, from lips to lips and from father to child has changed by being spoken, until it acquired it's modern form and that being the start line for new evolutions. So, it's part of tradition to read every Greek with the contemporary pronunciation, as the Hellenistic and Medieval scribes did at their time. And that works perfectly for us, Greeks. With this in mind, I could also claim that I feel offended. And that just because you're opposing to the Hellenic nation's tradition and traditionally evolved pronunciation 'cause of your personal likes (does that mean that you find ugly my modern language? That would be offensive based on your thinking and logic.) and because I may not find the Reconstructed Pronunciation aestheticaly beautiful. But aesthetic value and beauty are subjective. Thus, no one can decide which pronunciation to be used widely based on subjective "facts".

Furthermore, consider this. How much big would be the problem that the Greek students would have to deal with were they forced to pronounce the same words with different pronunciation in different classes? e.g. θάλασσα: /tʰá.las.sa/ vs. /ˈθa.la.sa/, την πατρίδα: /tɛːn pa.trí.da/ vs. /tin pa.ˈtri.ða/ et.c.? This way, learning ancient Greek would be even more difficult and Greek students would hate it even more than they do nowadays. However, having knowledge of those differences helps in understanding the comstruction of the language itself. Moreover, you should note that students already have problems distinguishing ancient from modern declensions.

Also, Boeotian Greek had a pronunciation system similar to the modern before the Common Era. Other dialects had different pronunciation systems in different eras and places of antiquity. Using the attic pronunciation for all dialects of all eras and places would be not only anachronistic, but also off place. The perfect would be to use the pronunciation of each writer, but that wouldn't help in education. Thus, we end up making convemtions. The only difference is that we can hear the Reuchlian pronunciation but not the Reconstructed from original speakers of Greek. In a way, we could also say that the Reconstructed is artificial since it was re-constructed, made by linguists and didn't come from natural evolution. What is more preferable, to use a natural pronunciation or an artificial? (See the answer in the P.S.)

To conclude, both Greeks and foreigners should bear in mind that the pronunciation was different from place to place and constantly evolving from era to era, even if they are to use a conventional pronunciation system; either the Reconstructed or the Reuchlian. Furthermore, foreigners have to know that they'll never be absolutely sure about the exact sound of ancient Greek. Also, I believe that anyone of us being offended because of the pronunciation of the other would make them absolute (something not matching with my democratic beliefs) and irrational. Justifying this feeling of offense with what seems aestheticaly beautiful to each of us would be subjective and, thus, far from truth. So, it would be better for all of us to use the pronunciation we are used to and not criticize the other's. It's better to accept the others with their specialities than holding them in contemt! That's also, somehow, an antiracist modus vivendi. In your case, if you can't train your ears to hear the modern pronunciation, then just avoid it, however don't comdemn it.

To end, I want to leave for you a small enigma. Think that Shakespear was to be taught in all schools in his Reconstructed pronunciation. However, English speakers would continue to use their contemporary pronunciation. Would it be logical for me to feel offended because they read a text in a way they can better understand it and sounds more beautiful to them? Would it be logical for them to feel offended because I read a text in a way that I can better understand it and sounds more beautiful to me?

P.S. In your last comment, you talked about ridiculous recreations of texts. What does make them ridiculous? Is it just you? Is it your personal likes? That seems pretty subjective. You also talked about incorrect fashion. There is no incorrect fashion. Reading Latin, for example, with the German regional pronunciation isn't more incorrect than with the Italian or the English or the French etc. It's just a matter of natural evolution of the language and its sound. It's natural. Furthermore, Linguistics accept that two speakers -who have the same mother language- cannot have the same pronunciation. Even inventing your own artificial pronunciation isn't incorrect and it isn't bad to prefer it more than another natural. It is your subjective, personal preference. And that's because you don't damage the texts. You can't damage a text. A text is just a text; words on a paper. No sound. We humans give the sound. We give sound to be able to understand the meaning. The pronunciation is a mere toolkit for understanding. And when one reads with a different pronunciation than another, that doesn't make him/her appreciate the text less. We get the same meaning. Thus, we cannot talk about offense and dishonor towards the text in this sense. How can a non-living thing such as a text feel dishonor about the way people pronounce it? So, why should you feel offended when even you don't have the same pronunciation as another English-speaker (actually I don't know whether your mother language is English. Take this example for every native speaker of a language)?
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:31 pm

My undergrad Greek professor used a reconstructed Attic. He would often cheerfully pronounce things using Erasmean and Modern for comparison. It contributed to the fun and instructive nature of his classes.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by C. S. Bartholomew » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:49 pm

@ Michael5iLVEr,

Yes, reminds me of a brief encounter 30 years ago in Powells City of books, 10th and Burnside Portland Oregon. I was perusing the Biblical studies section looking at books on Biblical languages. Started chatting with a woman who was doing the same. She suddenly burst into recitation of Genesis in Hebrew in a perfect imitation of prof. Goodrick's tape recording of Genesis. Goodrick taught eons ago at Multnomah College in Portland. He published an introduction to biblical languages[1] with cassette tapes of readings.

Later on I started listing to recordings on the web of Hebrew Bible and discovered how different they all sounded from Goodrick and each other. Greek wasn't so difficult since Erasmus was still widely used. North American professors had a particular accent which was different from other places, just as you would expect.

[1] Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek: Everybody's Guide to the Language Tools (English, Greek and Hebrew Edition) is a book by Edward W. Goodrick (HarperCollins Christian Pub., 272pgs) released 1980-05-31.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by jeidsath » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:41 pm

The last time that I was at Powell's, there was an extremely annoying man combing through the entire foreign language book section, while conducting a cell-phone conversation with another person apparently checking the Amazon used book prices and telling him whether to buy them or not.

Original pronunciation Shakespeare is a big thing: https://blog.oup.com/2016/03/reconstruc ... unciation/

For Chaucer, at least some concern for original pronunciation is probably standard.

If you are going to read Greek poetry or drama, you can't keep a modern Greek pronunciation anyway -- you have to at least vary vowel length and fix some of the υ-diphthongs.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Michael5iLVEr » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:56 pm

Greek poetry and drama is another big thing. I remember that, in school, we've been taught Sophocles' Antigone using the modern pronunciation. They taught us from a getting-to-know-the-culture view and not as if we were to recite the text as actors/actresses. Thus, the Reconstructed pronunciation was redundant at that time. Of course, trying to read poetry with the modern pronunciation would not produce what was intended to be heard; the sequence between long and short syllables. However, even one can achieve this sequence with the modern pronunciation, if they pronounce the long syllables with the modern quality and the ancient quantity (that's like an artificial pronunciation system about which I was talking in my last comment).

But, don't get me wrong (I guess you don't); I'm not against the Reconstructed pronunciation. Even I usually recite using it with little to no success (I believe I haven't any success, because, whenever my firend listens to me, he bursts out laughing :lol: ). The only reason I opt for the modern one is because it's more functional here in Greece. The rates of being understood with the modern pronunciation are much more high than with the Reconstructed (You also won't be the guy they'll laugh at.). Also, ancient phrases used today and the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Churches are being pronounced with the Reuchlian one.

All in all, the only one that has made me like the attic pronunciation is Ιωάννης Στρατάκης, because he's the only one who has disappointed me the least, unlike others. But again, that friend of mine can't hold his laughter when we listen to him. It's just a matter of tastes.

P.S. I don't know much about Shakespear's English pronunciation, so take that example as a mere hypothesis. The truth is that neither I have introduced myself to his original texts. I have read only Romeo and Juliet from a modern Greek translation that, unfortunately, didn't preserve the metre. I can't wait to read the originals.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Callisper » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:45 pm

I am in the mood for once to throw my hat in this kind of ring, perhaps foolishly. I think there are a few points to be addressed here (not that I disagree with the gist of your post):
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am
I believe that you're too absolute. The Reconstructed Pronunciation is only speculative, as we don't have recordings from the ancient period. Let's accept that we will never have the chance to listen to the ancient authors themselves. However, it works for foreigners like you.
Pedagogical facility for native non-Greeks is not the only reason they prefer the Reconstructed Pronunciation: it's also more correct (that is, objectively much more likely to be much closer to how 5th century Athenians spoke than Modern Greek pronunciation is). That could in theory have an impact when it comes to being sensitive to issues relating to the sound of the text - an advanced problem of course.
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am
On the other hand, as Manolis Triantafyllidis has stated in his Νεοελληνική Γραμματική, Modern Greek is the same the ancient language that endlessly being spoken by the Hellenic nation for thousand years, from lips to lips and from father to child has changed by being spoken, until it acquired it's modern form and that being the start line for new evolutions.
I think this claim is greatly overstated by many native Greeks. I could apply your sentence's rhetoric to claim that English has not changed since the time of Beowulf, but a modern-British English pronunciation of Beowulf would be universally viewed as a laughing matter.
As for the idea that Ancient Greek is phonologically closer to Modern Greek than Old English to modern English, perhaps (yes). But it says a lot that the best native-Greek scholars have not been able to reach any higher level of grasp of Attic Greek than the best non native-Greek scholars - namely, this direly undermines any idea that the languages are one and the same. jeidsath tells us that Middle English phonology bears some weight on our pronunciations of Chaucer, so by the same token - given that native English scholars predominate when it comes to Chaucer (as Middle English is close enough to modern English that modern English is a huge advantage) - should Attic Greek phonology not bear weight on our pronunciations of Attic?
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am
And that works perfectly for us, Greeks. [...] Furthermore, consider this. How much big would be the problem that the Greek students would have to deal with were they forced to pronounce the same words with different pronunciation in different classes? e.g. θάλασσα: /tʰá.las.sa/ vs. /ˈθa.la.sa/, την πατρίδα: /tɛːn pa.trí.da/ vs. /tin pa.ˈtri.ða/ et.c.? This way, learning ancient Greek would be even more difficult and Greek students would hate it even more than they do nowadays. However, having knowledge of those differences helps in understanding the comstruction of the language itself. Moreover, you should note that students already have problems distinguishing ancient from modern declensions.
The question of what pronunciation would be pedagogically best for Ancient Greek is one I've thought about before without really being able to solve. You're right of course that it may be troublesome to ask young schoolchildren to pronounce a word they already know in a different way. On the other hand, couldn't it raise difficulties down the road when they cannot aurally distinguish vowel qualities for words they don't yet know?
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am
Think that Shakespear was to be taught in all schools in his Reconstructed pronunciation. However, English speakers would continue to use their contemporary pronunciation. Would it be logical for me to feel offended because they read a text in a way they can better understand it and sounds more beautiful to them? Would it be logical for them to feel offended because I read a text in a way that I can better understand it and sounds more beautiful to me?
Not going to address any 'offence' but let's consider the hypothetical: 1) no Englishman would object to the Reconstructed pronunciation being used abroad; 2) the case for a native English speaker to introduce Reconstructed pronunciation, for anything more than academic reasons, is generally much weaker than for Greeks to do the same, because Shakespearean English is infinitely closer to modern English than Attic is to modern Greek. (I indicated above that I think you would find even Chaucer much much closer to mod.Engl. than Anc.Grk. to mod.Grk.)
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:16 am
The pronunciation is a mere toolkit for understanding.
Yes, but certain pronunciations are objectively less ambiguous than others, which makes them objectively better 'toolkits for understanding'. At the end of the day I'm not a big fan of using many elements of the reconstructed pronunciation but at least it tries to disambiguate between a large number of vowels that Modern Greek reduces to a single sound...
This ambiguity may present the Greeks with no problem when they are dealing with familiar, modern Greek words, but I wonder if the same can be said when they're faced with new words (as when they learn Ancient).

Next post:
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:56 pm
Greek poetry and drama is another big thing. I remember that, in school, we've been taught Sophocles' Antigone using the modern pronunciation. They taught us from a getting-to-know-the-culture view and not as if we were to recite the text as actors/actresses. Thus, the Reconstructed pronunciation was redundant at that time. Of course, trying to read poetry with the modern pronunciation would not produce what was intended to be heard; the sequence between long and short syllables. However, even one can achieve this sequence with the modern pronunciation, if they pronounce the long syllables with the modern quality and the ancient quantity (that's like an artificial pronunciation system about which I was talking in my last comment).
But when you do that, does it sound tenable as poetry?

As has come up above, I definitely think the vowel pronunciation of modern Greek is an easy target here.
Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:56 pm
All in all, the only one that has made me like the attic pronunciation is Ιωάννης Στρατάκης, because he's the only one who has disappointed me the least, unlike others. But again, that friend of mine can't hold his laughter when we listen to him. It's just a matter of tastes.
I have found pretty much every recording of Ancient Greek I've heard sounds ludicrous to me, no matter what 'system' its perpetrator was following. I don't think this is an issue of pronunciation system at all but rather one of flow. Listening to people who speak Ancient Greek today is fine, even pleasant, because they communicate it properly, as a language; but weirdly enough most of these (non-native Greeks) seem to employ modern Greek pronunciation too (which as a non-native Greek brings up difficulties - mainly that of disambiguating the vowels and of being understood in turn if I want to speak to them).

In sum, I have provided some challenges to your arguments. May it be noted that I don't feel the Modern Greek pronunciation of Anc.Grk. is particularly bad or (especially) that the Reconstructed pronunciation is good. In my opinion there are really two metrics to be applied here - A) pedagogical usefulness; B) proximity to the original pronunciation. I am not sure what I think of pedagogical ease - which seems to be at the heart of your argument - being used as a metric. I distinguish ease from usefulness because some habits like (particularly) the vowel pronunciations could be pernicious to future understanding.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Michael5iLVEr » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:19 pm

Thank you Callisper for pointing out the weaknesses in my arguments.
This helps me a lot to develop my rhetoric skills. However, I can't answer at this moment, even though I'd really want to. Also, my point was to make scrambledeggs not feel offended because of the modern phonology in teaching, as I consider this type of offense non-logical.

I believe indeed that the reconstructed pronunciation is more approximate to the original pronunciation, as it was based on ancient sources about how the letters were pronounced. I furtherly believe that there's no right and wrong as to what system will be used in teaching, but as to what's more useful (pedagogical usefulness). Of course, that varies between people and societies. As I explained, the modern would be more useful for native-Greeks, the reconstructed for non-natives.

But, I distinguish that you have doubts on the modern pronunciation concerning the vowels. I can assure you that usually there are no problems occuring; or, maybe, there such problems as much would occur in modern Greek. But these are solved quickly when we spell viva voce the ambiguous part of the word (classic example is ἡμεῖς-ὑμεῖς, both pronounced as ιμίς, so we say imis with eta or imis with upsilon to distinguish them). I can also assure you that, since I began ancient Greek until now that we read Plato's Republic, Protagoras and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, I have come only to little problems concerning the vowels. That's because they don't teach us the language in order to speak it -as we'll mever meet an alive ancient Greek, that's the state's reason- but in order to decipher the texts. Neither we write in ancient Greek, nor we speak in ancient Greek. So, we are always in front of the texts. We only learn the morphology, the syntax and the vocabulary to decipher the texts and I believe that's also a weakness of the school system.

My classmates used to tell me that they hate ancient Greek because they had to memorize by heart huge pages of theory without using them in real life. As a result, they don't remember a single thing now that they don't read anything in ancient Greek. They also tell me that, if we were to learn how to speak and/or write in ancient Greek as we are being taught foreign languges such as Enlgish, French, German, then the class would be more fun, my classmates would be more willing to learn and they would remember more.
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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by smitterle » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:25 pm

Don't mean to offend anybody. Mainly agree with Michael and Callisper.

Striving for reconstructed pronunciation for Classical Geek (and then switching for Koine and even modern) might look like a challenge but I've always only found advantages: it helps me know the accents, spell, perceive a glance of the sound of poetry, better understand phonological change. Therefore it can be a pedagogical tool, too, and I'd always go for approximation to what we believe was right pronunciation.

But I also believe we might get confused if we take the importance of pronunciation of a modern language as criterion, and even then there have always been quite remarkable variations within "the same language" which by itself is a purely arbitrary choice: Ancient Greek is a set of linguistic varieties as you correctly pointed out. That to be discussed in classroom to me is even more important than choosing a single pronunciation. I feel Barry's example goes into a similar direction.

I felt quite betrayed when I learned that Latin had sounded quite different from our German pronunciation, and I was even laughed about when trying, but it just sounded more like a real language and less like something we'd have to read out loud because reading out loud was a pedagogical method for language learning.

The discussion about Greek natives reminds me of discussions about right pronunciation of German in Germany. I understand that teachers nowadays let go of making children believe they pronounce German incorrectly but rather enforce the understanding that the (still quite artificial) standard German pronunciation (and grammar) is a means to better understand each other, that it's a bit of another language. Would native Greek teachers really say there's a wrong or right pronunciation or rather that there is one that is closer to the original and that is funny and that there are reasons why one might want to use it?

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Andriko » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm

Not that I have much to add to the wonderful points already made, but in defence of Greeks using modern Greek pronuciation, as Michael mentions, Ancient Greek is a language that is only really going to be read, and so for a modern Greek it would be a bit of a wasted effort to learn the ancient pronunciation.

I think a similar case exists with Latin, as whenever I hear people using it, it is usually pronounced in their own tongue (Sisero or Chichero instead of Kikero, for example).

Another point worth mentioning is that, if memory serves, many of the phonological changes in Greek were already underway in some places by the 4th C BE, and I think I have read that by about 300ad, something more or less approximate to the modern pronunciation was already in place.

A final point - modern Greek is itself quite euphonic, and in my own reading of Ancient and Koine Greek, there are instances where 'borrowing' some of the modern forms can be 'easier' and sound (in my head anyway) a bit more pleasant, though this might be due to the fact that I have been exposed to the sound of modern Greek (well, Kypriaka) since I was born, and so find it more natural.

As a slightly humorous aside, when I try to speak modern Greek and get stuck, I start throwing in Classicisms in reconstructed pronunciation, which combined with my poor knowledge of both languages, can produce some quite comical responses from my father.

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by bedwere » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:21 pm

Andriko wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm
Not that I have much to add to the wonderful points already made, but in defence of Greeks using modern Greek pronuciation, as Michael mentions, Ancient Greek is a language that is only really going to be read, and so for a modern Greek it would be a bit of a wasted effort to learn the ancient pronunciation.
Not entirely true. For those who want to speak Ancient Greek as a living language, there are two opportunities this summer:

ΣΥΝΟΔΟΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ July 14–20, 2019 at the University of Kentucky, Lexington

Hellenikon Idyllion: “Speak and Philosophize Today in Ancient Greek”… for our 27th year! 22 July– 04 August 2019

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Callisper » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:17 pm

Michael5iLVEr wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:19 pm
But, I distinguish that you have doubts on the modern pronunciation concerning the vowels. I can assure you that usually there are no problems occuring; or, maybe, there such problems as much would occur in modern Greek. But these are solved quickly when we spell viva voce the ambiguous part of the word (classic example is ἡμεῖς-ὑμεῖς, both pronounced as ιμίς, so we say imis with eta or imis with upsilon to distinguish them). I can also assure you that, since I began ancient Greek until now that we read Plato's Republic, Protagoras and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, I have come only to little problems concerning the vowels. That's because they don't teach us the language in order to speak it -as we'll mever meet an alive ancient Greek, that's the state's reason- but in order to decipher the texts. Neither we write in ancient Greek, nor we speak in ancient Greek. So, we are always in front of the texts. We only learn the morphology, the syntax and the vocabulary to decipher the texts and I believe that's also a weakness of the school system.

My classmates used to tell me that they hate ancient Greek because they had to memorize by heart huge pages of theory without using them in real life. As a result, they don't remember a single thing now that they don't read anything in ancient Greek. They also tell me that, if we were to learn how to speak and/or write in ancient Greek as we are being taught foreign languges such as Enlgish, French, German, then the class would be more fun, my classmates would be more willing to learn and they would remember more.
These two paragraphs seem to contrast pretty strongly.

First you say there's no need to solve the ambiguity in pronunciation, because after all what does pronunciation matter anyway? We just look down at the page and read, and that's all that's important, isn't it? End thread

But then you say you think ancient Greek pedagogy would be better off if we involved elements other than reading (= writing, speaking).

At the end of the day, you have presented a problem with the Modern Greek pronunciation by clarifying my concern - ἡμεῖς vs ὑμεῖς is a pretty grave homophone. You then argue that such ambiguity doesn't matter, because the pronunciation doesn't matter, because we don't speak. But isn't this whole thread about how for those who do speak/listen the pronunciation to be used is the reconstructed one?

Let's ask equally - since you sound like you believe speaking/writing would be beneficial to Anc.Grk. studies in Greece - what you would think of the Modern Greek pronunciation being used in such a class, as it (likely?) would.
Andriko wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm
I think a similar case exists with Latin, as whenever I hear people using it, it is usually pronounced in their own tongue (Sisero or Chichero instead of Kikero, for example).
My experience of Latin speakers has not included a single one till date (who prided himself on ability to speak Latin) that would pronounce 'Cicero' as "Sisero". There are a few die-hards who might pronounce "Chichero", but the vast majority would pronounce it as "Kikero".

(Edit: obviously, I mean when they speak Latin. They'll pronounce according to nation's customs when speaking their own language.)
Andriko wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm
Another point worth mentioning is that, if memory serves, many of the phonological changes in Greek were already underway in some places by the 4th C BE, and I think I have read that by about 300ad, something more or less approximate to the modern pronunciation was already in place.
Isn't this an argument for learning the Attic pronunciation, if you want to read Attic (as opposed to post-300 AD Greek)?

Conversely, if your claim is that all Greek literature from around 300 AD onwards may as well be read in the modern pronunciation, I would not be so sure. For one thing, "more or less approximate" is, I think, a considerable exaggeration. For another, a lot of Greek was purposely Atticizing, much of it with fairly assiduous effort; can we firmly say it is better to read such Greek with (not only the vernacular pronunciation of its time but) the Modern Greek pronunciation, than with the Attic pronunciation (the phonology of the language which the writers did their best to imitate seeming far more propitious a choice surely than the unpredictable result of 1500 years of subsequent development)?

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Re: Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

Post by Andriko » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:16 pm

Callisper wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:17 pm
Andriko wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm
I think a similar case exists with Latin, as whenever I hear people using it, it is usually pronounced in their own tongue (Sisero or Chichero instead of Kikero, for example).
My experience of Latin speakers has not included a single one till date (who prided himself on ability to speak Latin) that would pronounce 'Cicero' as "Sisero". There are a few die-hards who might pronounce "Chichero", but the vast majority would pronounce it as "Kikero".

(Edit: obviously, I mean when they speak Latin. They'll pronounce according to nation's customs when speaking their own language.)
I will defer to your more extensive experience with Latin.
Andriko wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm
Another point worth mentioning is that, if memory serves, many of the phonological changes in Greek were already underway in some places by the 4th C BE, and I think I have read that by about 300ad, something more or less approximate to the modern pronunciation was already in place.
Isn't this an argument for learning the Attic pronunciation, if you want to read Attic (as opposed to post-300 AD Greek)?

Conversely, if your claim is that all Greek literature from around 300 AD onwards may as well be read in the modern pronunciation, I would not be so sure. For one thing, "more or less approximate" is, I think, a considerable exaggeration. For another, a lot of Greek was purposely Atticizing, much of it with fairly assiduous effort; can we firmly say it is better to read such Greek with (not only the vernacular pronunciation of its time but) the Modern Greek pronunciation, than with the Attic pronunciation (the phonology of the language which the writers did their best to imitate seeming far more propitious a choice surely than the unpredictable result of 1500 years of subsequent development)?
One assumes that, even if they heavily atticised, the authors still had their contemporary pronunciation in mind. For example, I think it would be rather silly to speak Katharevousa with an Attic accent (I know it's not the greatest example, but I think it's a valid one in the current discussion).

My view is that generally I would agree that attempting to keep close to a reconstructed accent would be more helpful.

That said, I usually find it quite bewildering when this topic comes up, as people - on both sides of the argument - seem rather dogmatic. The Greek half of me understands why Greeks might not like 'baraboi' telling them how they should pronounce their own language, and the English half doesn't understand why the Greek half is happy to have all of it's vowels mushed into one big 'iota'.

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