I must admit, I use common German school pronunciation for Ancient Greek, which may seem somewhat weird to purists of reconstructed pronounciation on the one hand and modern Greeks on the other hand. I do this for reasons of practicality. It's how I've always been pronouncing Greek words and I didn't want to change that.
Using modern pronunciation is a bit dissatisfactory, because it doesn't really distinguish between a lot of vowels and diphthongs. There was a similar problem when I studied Biblical Hebrew, because Modern Hebrew pronunciation has lost a lot of distinctions that are still written down but not pronounced any more. In the case of Hebrew, I opted for a moderate reconstruction of ancient pronunciation, because I liked the way it sounded and I'm not going to read at a synagogue or go to Israel for the time being anyway.
As for Sanskrit, its pronunciation has been described by ancient grammarians (Panini) in excruciating detail and thus been handed down from one generation to the other. So, I'm trying to use the traditional pronunciation as it is still practised in India today. It's a bit difficult with all the retroflex and aspirated sounds, but it's the real thing.
As for Ancient Greek, and thus returning to the beginning, it doesn't really matter to me how θ, φ, and χ are pronounced and whether ω is open or closed. However, I need to be able to distinguish between ει, η, ι, οι, υ, and υι, otherwise I'd go nuts trying to write something in Greek. I know native speakers of modern Greek will probably see this differently, but I'm learning Ancient Greek just the way hundreds of thousands German pupils have learnt it. The only really weird thing is pronuncing ευ and ηυ like German "eu" (approximately like English "oy"), but I got used to it.
If anyone is interested in reconstructed Homeric pronunciation, I don't get tired of posting this video. I think it's really a good attempt. Enjoy!
Re: Classical Languages - Study Group
Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 12:04 am
I agree with everything that has been said. I see no problem with choosing either pronunciation or both (as Dillon suggests). And I also like Strataki's reconstruction. The one thing I disagree with is this:
Josquin wrote:but I'm learning Ancient Greek just the way hundreds of thousands German pupils have learnt it.
First because I'm a bit of an iconoclast (yes, ironic for someone that studies classical philology) and I don't like "traditions" when they stand in the way of actual progress and in this case the Prussian system of education (and its modern heir) has hindered many Greek & Latin students from actually learning Greek and Latin so I say we go Nietzsche on them.
Second, because the tradition argument cuts both sides. Even well after Erasmus, it was usual for students of all Europe (and even of the Americas) to learn Greek using the "historical pronunciation" (see this Jesuit book for example, or Engelbert Drerup's Die Schulaussprache des Griechischen von der Renaissance bis zur Gegenwart). The historical pronunciation could be traced even to Thucydides (debatable, but at any rate is much, much sooner than what supporters of the reconstruction are willing to admit). Also going nuts over differentiating vowels and diphthongs shouldn't be a determining argument when choosing sides, the French phonology is also crazy, and English phonology is not exempt from difficulties, the languages are as they are and we have to learn them despite their difficulties. It's just a matter of practice.
In any case I must say I'm very happy to see that you guys have such a nice active community going on here.
Re: Classical Languages - Study Group
Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 12:18 pm
Well, but my point was (or should have been...) that those vowels were all distinguished in Ancient Greek pronunciation, so why should I pronounce them all the same now? For a native speaker of Modern Greek that may make sense, because they are used to it, but for me it would be a conscious effort to do so. Distinguishing those sounds is a) much easier for me and b) closer to original pronunciation, so these are two good reasons - at least for me - to do so.
But if anyone likes to pronounce Ancient Greek the modern way, they should absolutely do so. As I said, I'm not dogmatic about this. Just as there are different traditions pronouncing Latin and Hebrew, there are different traditions for Greek. I'm not here to judge them or "go Nietzsche on them".
By the way, thanks for all those resources! I'm going to update the resource post on the first page soon. I just need the time to do so.
I've done most of my listening with audio with modern Greek pronunciation. Over the years, I've developed a sort of hybrid pronunciation when reading aloud. I put my mouth into my Spanish speaking position (tongue further forward and upward and lips tighter) than my native English position. I tend to use modern Greek consonants (closer to Spanish phonemes than English) and some variation of ancient Greek vowels. I also use some tonal accent as well as lengthening and shortening of some vowels. I also tend to slur and elide sounds within phrases so that I am pronouncing phrases as a unit rather than individual words. The prosody of the modern Greek I've listened to also tends to have an influence. The main thing I'm striving for is something that feels flowing and natural.
So in other words, I'm probably combining a bad Spanish and English accent on top of a bizarre tonal system and rhythm system. But, the only one who usually hears it is my dog and he doesn't complain.
Another interesting resource is the csntm.org site (Center for Studies of NT Manuscripts). They have many high quality images of various NT manuscripts from across the centuries. If anyone is interested in seeing examples of various types of writing styles and media of ancient Greek, this is a good site. We're spoiled with the nicely edited, formatted, and printed editions we have today. Looking at some of the examples on the csntm site probably gives a good sense of what Homer, Plato, and NT texts were probably like for most actual readers millennia ago.
The general running together of characters in the old texts gives me the impression more of a vocal transcription than formal writing. I sometimes wonder if some texts were more like shorthand that were emphasizing a vocal transcription. An interesting observation I've made since reading aloud more is that I've found it easier to understand old manuscripts when reading aloud or at least silently to myself. The clean majuscules (all caps) are more legible to my eye and I can read texts that I am already familiar with. However, the many ligatures in minuscules is still mostly unintelligible for me.
There is no cost involved, of course, and my only affiliation is being a member of the study group; I trust that there is no concern in sending out this notification, but please delete if that is not the case.
As per their flyer:
Egyptian (Hieroglyph) Study Group
GLYPHSTUDY--WHO WE ARE
GlyphStudy is a FREE, student-run study group offering study sections with a variety of popular Middle Egyptian grammars. We provide an interactive and supportive environment for students at all levels of study, but we particularly encourage beginners to study with us.
BEGINNER SECTION STARTING MAY 28, 2018
We will be using James Hoch’s Middle Egyptian Grammar as our textbook. It’s a complete, college level textbook and will take a little over 2 ½ years to complete. You will need to purchase a textbook in order to participate. Visit us on Facebook for more details, or write the owner for the long version of this blurb. https://www.facebook.com/GlyphStudy-Stu ... 845260078/
SIGN ME UP! IT’S A 2-STEP PROCESS
Step #1 Send an email with both your first and last name, and the textbook section (Hoch18) to the owner’s address below GlyphStudyemail@example.com If you don’t send me this information, I cannot process your application; it’s list policy. Step #2 Apply to join the GlyphStudy list by sending an email to: GlyphStudyfirstname.lastname@example.org
Years ago I worked a bit through Allen's book, but I found that I could have benefited by having a "buddy" to bounce thoughts off of. I like this group idea and look forward to starting.
Anyone know of any other cooperative study groups like this? I know the Spanish group here will be reading a book together, but I am not yet even near that level.
“Stinking awesome” is now my official catchphrase!
I initially signed up late 2016 (not for Hoch) but I found the textbook — Allen, from memory — a bit too intimidating and somewhat demotivating. The only book I've come across that enticed me was Assimil's L'égyptien hiéroglyphique which I'll probably be using as supplementary material.
I'm all for an additional study-group for Middle Egyptian as per your message on the main “Language Courses” forum — either as part of, or in addition to the Classical Languages Study group or GlyphStudy, or off-line in some capacity.
Other members of the forum are surely more knowledgeable than myself about the different study groups but I would be interested to know as well. I am only aware of Schola Latina Europaea & Universalis/Sermo for Latin which has a forum for students that have completed Sermo I, and another for the study of Ancient Greek around a French textbook (apologies, I don't have the details to hand). These are more facilitated "courses" than study groups, however.