Offended by modern phonology in Ancient Greek classroom

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.
scrambledeggs
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:18 pm

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.

User avatar
rustymason
Textkit Fan
Posts: 240
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:26 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX

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.

quendidil
Textkit Member
Posts: 196
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:39 am

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.

User avatar
rustymason
Textkit Fan
Posts: 240
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:26 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX

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.

Swth\r
Textkit Fan
Posts: 275
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:51 pm
Location: Greece

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.
Dives qui sapiens est...

User avatar
Adelheid
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 424
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 8:58 pm
Location: Mijdrecht
Contact:

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.
Regards,
Adelheid
http://www.perispomenon.nl

User avatar
Lex
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 732
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:34 pm
Location: A top-secret underground llama lair.

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:
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!

scrambledeggs
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:18 pm

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.

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

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.
(Occasionally) Working on the following tutorials:

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

User avatar
rustymason
Textkit Fan
Posts: 240
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:26 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX

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!

Xaire,
Robiginosus Caementarius

Post Reply