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21 Part 1.4 - Difference between Ancient Greek pronunciationsand modern Greek pronunciations?




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This article is from the Greece FAQ, by Nikolaos (Nick) C. Fotis, nfotis@theseas.ntua.gr with numerous contributions by others.

21 Part 1.4 - Difference between Ancient Greek pronunciationsand modern Greek pronunciations?

From: ls1@cec1.wustl.edu (Lambros Skartsis)
----

[ About the Erasmian model of pronounciation ]

> ccc@cs.toronto.edu ("Christina C. Christara"):
>
>> ls1@cec1.wustl.edu (Lambros Skartsis)
>>
>>I think that it was Erasmus who first claimed the above, as well as that
>>the today's "soft" greek consonents (ghamma, dhelta, etc.) were pronounced
>>as "hard" by the ancients (i.e., "g", "d", etc.) - and so the term
>>Erasmian pronounciation. I believe that this theory is very highly
>>disputed today.
>
>I received another message about this, and I think you are right.
>Indeed, I have heard that there is a dispute about the pronounciation
>proposed by Erasmus, and that many of his interpretations of the
>Greek sounds/letters/language are questioned.
>When I was in high-school I was taught the Erasmian interpretation
>and nothing else. I heard about the dispute later.

Actually, even this dispute became an emotional matter for the greeks.
If you really think about it, not only the language but the way it is
pronounced is a matter related to the national characteristics of a nation.
Imagine ancient greek pronounced the Erasmian way: with all these hard
consonents and the abundance of two-vowel sets (i.e., vowel followed by
vowel). The latter is something that we know very well that was
considered as quite bad-sounding to a anc.greek's ear ("hasmodia").
Actually the whole effect would be an almost .... dutch sounding - and
hence the accusation by many greeks that all these Erasmian theories
so often adopted by germanic scholars were a part of the well-known
trend of association of ancient greek culture/arian theories/modern germanic
peoples. The greeks of course go to the other extreme and often preach that
hardly any basic change occured in accent.
For the dipthong pronounciation argument (i.e., e.g. "oi"="i" or "o-i") I had
seen some time ago the following evidence against the Erasmian pronounciation
[the validity of the theory behind which , as I said earlier, I believe not
to be that popular any more(?)]: an Athenian
speaker is said to have confused his audience by the use of the word
"loimos" vs. "limos" (both, in modern greek would be pronounced as "leemos",
while they mean [in both anc. and modern greek] a desease and hunger,
respectively). For a confusion to have occured, it is argued, both words
should have been pronounced the same in ancient greek, as well.

 

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