Prosody and Learning a Language

End of sentence for example.

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 16th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Louis L Sorenson wrote:I think the prosody of each language needs to be learned where possible, when possible, and when learning it does not conflict with communication.

In my experience, there are languages which become more "forceful" to end a sentence and there are those which "trail off". There are those which get slower and the syllables longer to end a sentence and there are those that get faster. Sometimes intonation rises, sometimes it falls.

Is there a concensus on how Greek behaved(/s) at the end of a sentence? How would you teach that particular point - what conditions would prompt the use of which type prosody in Greek, if one were to teach it?
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Re: Prosody and Learning a Language

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 16th, 2014, 6:06 pm

RandallButh wrote:Now now, let's all remember that keyboards don't smile, twinkle the eye, and nuance speech, in the way that face-to-face communication does.

Good point.

RandallButh wrote:As for Koine being tonal or accentual, I think that the linguistics is pretty clear. One needs a mechanism in order to drive the "Great Greek Vowel Shift" that followed Aristotle and the rise of Greek all over the world, roughly 3rd-1st centuries BCE. That vowel shift involves a collapse of phonemic length in the system. The collapse of length, on a simple analysis, results in a system where accent is phonemic, but not tonal. Thus phonologically τον οίκον (acc) is distinctive from τόν οίκον (gen pl).

My sense is that the Koine period was a period of great transition in the phonology of the Greek language. Different changes happened at different times and different places. Not only that, but different social classes spoke differently. Also, as we know in the case of Swedish and Japanese, pitch-accented languages can have stress-accented dialects. In addition, there was probably some period where the systems overlapped, where accented syllables had both a pitch accent and a stress accent (they have a common physiological basis after all so they tend to be correlated).

Now, I know that there is a lot of early evidence in Egypt for at least some of these changes, but in other places the evidence comes later. Perhaps the bulk of the changes were in place throughout the Hellenistic world by the 2nd cen. CE (AD)--that's when you start seeing the differences show up in poetry--, but how much earlier and where is a much harder question. I'm just very skeptical of blanket claims that it was this way or another in the Koine period, especially at the time of Paul. I'm really frustrated that I cannot be more definitive, but I think the diversity of the language has to be recognized.

RandallButh wrote:The 'fly in the ointment' and the problem about dating descriptions by ancient Greeks is that the old tonal accentual system was taught and passed on in the schools until the end of the first millenium CE, when it was mechanically and artificially transferred over to the miniscule manuscript tradition, and remained until the 1970's. In other words, the old system was understood and taught, even though the people were talking in a language with a leveled, non-tonal, vowel system. Our manuscripts, Egyptian and DeadSea papyri and inscriptions and graffiti from all over the Mediterrean are ample testimony to the watershed development of the Greek language by the beginning of the common era.

I don't see Devine and Stephens making that mistake with the evidence that they used. To be sure, they are indeed hopeful that they can project the Koine-era evidence back into the classical times (their main interest) and they can be fairly criticized for that, but that is a far cry from saying that their Koine-era evidence is only valid for earlier Greek. At any rate, none of the evidence in D&S comes from Egypt, so it's perfectly plausible, given the diversity of Koine, that what they reconstruct for Delphi isn't applicable to Egypt at that time. I'm also not as hopeful that we have ample evidence that the extensive changes in the phonological system all took place throughout the entire Hellenistic world by the beginning of the common era. A date like the 2d cen CE, I'd feel more better about. Maybe in Egypt before the common era as the Egyptian papyri tend to indicate, fine. But as far as I know, none of the NT writers talked like an Egyptian. As for the Dead Sea documentary papyri in Greek are mainly 2d cen. CE (Bar Kokha), if I recall correctly, which fits a 2d cen CE date better than the 0 CE one.

RandallButh wrote:PS: I've wondered how Devine and Stephens would analyze the Seikilos song? 1st century, short ride from Ephesus?

Their article does not address it unfortunately, but looking at the very short song, it seems (at least in my impression) to exhibit the same basic features that D&S point out for the Delphic hymns: the high values of the acute and circumflex, the catathesis (downtrend) after them, the behavior of the grave accent in relation to the intonation, etc. But that was found near Ephesus, which (together with Attica) may have been more conservative (in some respects) in their Greek than, say, Egypt.
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Re: Prosody and Learning a Language

Postby RandallButh » January 17th, 2014, 1:25 am

When I talk about pre-Christian era Greek and the great Greek Vowel shift I do not imply that the full modern five-vowel system was in place. Two vowels were yet to change, eta and ypsilon. But the whole system had already started to change, one needs to understand what had already moved the "80%", and length appears to be the factor, even if it took a couple of centuries to work around the mediterranean.

You almost make it sound like Egypt is somehow the 'odd man out', although they are what is known about Greek everywhere as we get to see fuller pictures, even if the papyri can make this look like 'looking under the streetlamp for a coin'. Even in Athens it appears that η went to an [i] sound around 200CE, and that was the second to the last of the vowels to change. Egypt and Judea are late with these vowels, too.. The vowels in Judea/Nabatea in 120 CE look like pretty broad Koine, where the eta had not yet shifted, nor ypsilon. You have to love these French-sounding Koine speakers.
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Re: Further beyond consistency

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 21st, 2014, 6:39 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Paul-Nitz wrote:In learning, consistency is king. I'd say Ancient Greek speakers should use their native prosody. They can do that with no effort whatsoever and with perfect consistency.

For want of a model, yes, for the learning period / process, but later, you will find that reading the texts has an effect on the way you speak it. As a learner tries to catch all that seems like it should be in one breath into one breath, and tries to pronounce enclitics as part of the word they are joint with. .

You'd probably be better to disregard what I've written here and go with what you know, but for what it's worth, here are, in their most basic statement, the rules that I have applied to the text - in preparation for reading:

According to what seems to me to be practical and possible in reading "like a langugae", there are some pauses that can be affected by what is around them and some that are not affectable.
  • There is a default word break between words.
  • A verb other than an infinitive (or perhaps participle) is followed by a cancellable pause "~".
  • words like οὗν, γάρ are both preceeded and followed by a non-cancellable pause "^"
  • Words like δὲ, are preceeded by non-negatiable pause canceller "-"
  • The article in the nominative case is followed by an optional cancellation of a pause "~" (and perhaps preceeded by a non-cancellable pause "=")
  • The artice in oblique cases is both preceeded and followed by optional cancellations of a pause "~" - "article" means joint word it does things like make no space between the preposition and it's nominal phrase, or no space (pause) between a verb and it's object.
  • καί is preceeded by a non-cancellable pause "^".
  • Personal pronouns in the nominative case are followed by an optional cancellation of a pause "~"
  • Personals pronouns in oblique cases are preceeded by a cancellation of a pause "~"
  • Special words like εἷς, μία, ἕν, πρῶτος, τέλος, πᾶς (in all forms), ἕκαστος, λοιπά are inherently special and always receive stress no matter where they are in a sentence. Perhaps the list is subjective and depends on the speaker and their community. Stress increases word pronunciation time, but doesn't overly affect pauses around the word.
  • Prepostions are followed by a cancellable pause "="
  • The The word or group of words second from the end of a unit is pronounced slowly (in longer time) and there is a change of intonation of some sort (possibly a rising then falling tone).

These reading guidelines are simplistic but could be useful. I use similar things for teaching reading English - but the rules are quite different from what we have in English. I don't know why this works, but they seem to work for me to make Greek very much easier to read.

It is probably a waste of your time to try to understand the symbols, but here is a bit of Ephesians 4 with some of those rubbish rules marked on it:

Παρακαλῶ= ^οὖν^ ~ὑμᾶς ^ἐγὼ= ^ὁ~ δέσμιος ἐν= Κυρίῳ (~)ἀξίως= περιπατῆσαι ~τῆς~ κλήσεως ^ἧς^ ἐκλήθητε=, μετὰ= πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης ^καὶ πρᾳότητος, μετὰ= μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν= ἀγάπῃ, σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν ~τὴν~ ἑνότητα ~τοῦ~ Πνεύματος ἐν= ~τῷ~ συνδέσμῳ ~τῆς~ εἰρήνης. ἓν σῶμα ^καὶ ἓν Πνεῦμα, ^καθὼς^ ^καὶ ἐκλήθητε= ἐν= μιᾷ ἐλπίδι ~τῆς~ κλήσεως ~ὑμῶν·
εἷς Κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα·
εἷς Θεὸς ^καὶ πατὴρ πάντων,
ὁ~ ἐπὶ= πάντων, ^καὶ διὰ= πάντων, ^καὶ ἐν= πᾶσιν ~ἡμῖν.
Ενὶ -δὲ ἑκάστῳ ~ἡμῶν ἐδόθη= ^ἡ~ χάρις κατὰ= ~τὸ~ μέτρον ~τῆς~ δωρεᾶς ~τοῦ~ Χριστοῦ. ^διὸ^ λέγει=·
ἀναβὰς= εἰς= ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσεν= αἰχμαλωσίαν
^καὶ ἔδωκε= δόματα ~τοῖς~ ἀνθρώποις.
~τὸ~ -δὲ ἀνέβη= τί ~ἐστιν εἰ μὴ~ ὅτι ^καὶ κατέβη πρῶτον εἰς= ~τὰ~ κατώτερα μέρη ~τῆς~ γῆς; =ὁ~ καταβὰς =αὐτός~ ~ἐστι ^καὶ =ὁ~ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων ~τῶν~ οὐρανῶν, =ἵνα πληρώσῃ= ~τὰ~ πάντα. ^καὶ αὐτὸς~ ἔδωκε= ~τοὺς~ μὲν ἀποστόλους, ~τοὺς~ -δὲ προφήτας, ~τοὺς~ -δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, ~τοὺς~ -δὲ ποιμένας ^καὶ διδασκάλους, πρὸς= ~τὸν~ καταρτισμὸν ~τῶν~ ἁγίων εἰς= ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς= οἰκοδομὴν ~τοῦ~ σώματος ~τοῦ~ Χριστοῦ, μέχρι= καταντήσωμεν=

Is that understandable? = plus ~ equals zero. = plus ^ equals ^. etc.

Do you know the rules of English well enough to make a comparision between this and English. But probably it's boring anyway.
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Re: Prosody and Learning a Language

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 21st, 2014, 10:06 am

Stephen,
This is interesting and I'd like to give it a shot at trying to understand your system better. Is it possible that you made a couple of mistakes with the symbols in the description? It seems like there are two contradictions. Or, more likely, I just don't get it. An audio recording of your Ephesians excerpt would help.

(By the way, the retro color doesn't show my age, the SIZE does.)
Stephen Hughes wrote:cancellable pause "~"
an optional cancellation of a pause "~"

non-cancellable pause "="
a cancellable pause "="
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Re: Prosody and Learning a Language

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 21st, 2014, 12:17 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:Stephen,
This is interesting and I'd like to give it a shot at trying to understand your system better. Is it possible that you made a couple of mistakes with the symbols in the description? It seems like there are two contradictions. Or, more likely, I just don't get it. An audio recording of your Ephesians excerpt would help.


Paul-Nitz wrote:(By the way, the retro color doesn't show my age, the SIZE does.)
I just hold down the [Ctrl] key and throttle back on the mouse-wheel.

Stephen Hughes wrote:cancellable pause "~"
an optional cancellation of a pause "~"
non-cancellable pause "=" (Should be "^")
a cancellable pause "="

Well, that could give you a good explanation of the Modern Greek word - if you wanted to learn a useless one - καθυστερημένος "the student who is slower than the other students to get things" (cf. the well-known concept of "magnetic hysteresis" - the lag of the magnetic fiedl behind the electric field in a material, which affects the design / efficiency of magnetically coupled circuits in for example voltage transformers)

I mean, that yes, you have understood the system better than I was able to express it. For myself, I just use pause ("=") and UNpause ("~"), and I know which ones usually/always stick around and which one don't, but to write it for you I mande the distincition more clearer with "^" for the compusary pause, and "-" for the compulsary UNpause. Changing something I was familiar with just confused me.

Recording sounds (ha ha) like its easy to do, but I don't know how to record properly, but I'm getting there - I rewired the PA system on Monday afternoon to go to the overhead projector computer instead of over to the Church hall, but I'm still trying to work out the software. And, even if it were to be working you'd be right scunnered with my blathering.
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Discusion about my basic rules for reading

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 21st, 2014, 1:41 pm

Hi Paul,
I don't have a recording to send to you. So here are some expansion of what the rules mean and how they compare with English rules:

  • There is a default word break between words.
    That is sort of the basic assumption that other things build on.

  • A verb other than an infinitive (or perhaps participle) is followed by a cancellable pause "~".
    In English a verb and its (following) object are pronounced together, and apart from pronouns are pronounced together. For Koine Greek it seems that the anarthrous object is pronounced at a distance from the verb, that gives extra time to the listener to consider the verb, which is perhaps something like emphasis, but what is emphasis anyway?? An arthrous direct object is pronounced with the verb, so the verb would get less attention, but I'm not sure if that is de-emphasising or not emphasising. The article means "joint", ie joint in pronunciation to the thing it is joint to.

  • words like οὗν, γάρ are both preceeded and followed by a non-cancellable pause "^"
    Just like when turning a corner there needs to be a slow-down so that a change in direction in the flow doesn't lead to someone not being able to follow. It is the same as what we do in English with "buuuuuuut". English as a rising tone for showing that there is more to come. The well-drawn from example is the question - i.e. the rising tone shows that there is an expectation that more will be said - and in this instance it is the other person who does the saying! For the buuut in English there can be a slight rise in intonation to show that one ought to get ready for something that will come. Another example is the use in a list. "For breakfast, I eat eggs (slight rise in intonation), bacon (slight rise in intonation), toast (larger rise in intonation) and porridge (fall in intonation to mark the end of what you should expect is being said) - given that if we accept that questions as far back as the Koine period were marked by a rising tone as they are in Modern Greek, then it is possible that the same feature could be incorporated in the intonation of the Koine period, but that would only be speculation - probably useful speculation, but that is not the only thing that could have been done. As we can see from the list of vices πᾶσα πικρία καὶ θυμὸς καὶ ὀργὴ καὶ κραυγὴ καὶ βλασφημία ἀρθήτω it ends on the longest element, which suggests that lengthening (slowing down of speech) marks the end of a list (and as I will mention below βλασφημία is the second last part of a phrase, so it is said longly and in this case the choice of where to put the longest word matches the way it would be said flowingly. The same thing happens in English too. "I wan't fish, chips, potato scallops aaaand (rising tone as noted) a burger."

  • Words like δὲ, are preceeded by non-negatiable pause canceller "-"
    Light pronunciation seems in order here so as not to get into the way of other patterns.

  • The article in the nominative case is followed by an optional cancellation of a pause "~" (and perhaps preceeded by a non-cancellable pause "^")
    The nominative case of the article and personal pronouns is different from the oblique cases both in relative position to the verb and in function. I think that is reflected in the pausation that surrounds it.

  • ]The artice in oblique cases is both preceeded and followed by optional cancellations of a pause "~" - "article" means joint word it does things like make no space between the preposition and it's nominal phrase, or no space (pause) between a verb and it's object.
    In English, the word "the" seems to be usually prefixed to its noun, but in greek it seems to be not only with the following noun, but also causes attraction to the preceeding element if that is possible.

    The obvious problem with this rule and the one before it is the neuter article both singular and plural!! And that is some thing that I find requires more grammatical effort during reading.

  • καί is preceeded by a non-cancellable pause "^".
    English "and" can be like ~and~ where natural pauses before and after are both cancelled gving 'n'

  • Personal pronouns in the nominative case are followed by an optional cancellation of a pause "~"
    The other-than-pronominal subject in English is a little distant from the verb, but pronominal subjects are closer with only normal word break. That is logical for English because in English the pronominal subject recapitulates the previously mentioned nominal subject, so it can be said without a pause to allow the listener processing time. In Greek that is true, but it is also true that there is an emphatic pronoun where the listener is expected to think about something for a while to get he emphatic force of it. In that emphatic case there would be no loss of the pause.

  • Personals pronouns in oblique cases are preceeded by an optional cancellation of a pause "~"
    They are often moved up closer along the line to the verb (or put next to the preposition) and there is very little new information introduced, so they don't need to have great lot of time for people to think about it.

  • Special words like εἷς, μία, ἕν, πρῶτος, τέλος, πᾶς (in all forms), ἕκαστος, λοιπά are inherently special and always receive stress no matter where they are in a sentence. Perhaps the list is subjective and depends on the speaker and their community. Stress increases word pronunciation time, but doesn't overly affect pauses around the word.
    This happens in all languages that I know, so I don't see why it would / shouldn't happen here. The natural position that these should gravitate to in Greek is the second last position.

  • Prepostions are followed by a cancellable pause "="
    Contary to the seeming intent of the collocational nature of preposition I think that prepositions are separated from what follows them unless they are otherwise un-separated by reason of an oblique pronoun or an article. The preposition followed by an anarthrous nominal phrase, then, provide a pause for the listener to think just a little bit longer about the "meaning" of the preposition, whereas when there is an arthrous nominal phrase no special ammount of time is given to thinking deeply about the meaning of the preposition, but the emphasis of thought is shifted to thinking a bit more about the nominal unit (behind the article).

  • The The word or group of words second from the end of a unit is pronounced slowly (in longer time) and there is a change of intonation of some sort (possibly a rising then falling tone).
    Following on from the stuff I wrote up the page a bit, I have speculated here a rising and falling tone on the assumption that there wasn't a significant tonal sequence earlier in the phrase. In English, the final, not the second last element is significantly lengthened, like a car or any natural object coming to a natural stop such as the human body. In Koine Greek it seems more like when somebody is walking and then comes to a stop - the last full step is the slowest full step, and then the trailing leg is brought up - the second last word is the longest and then there is a little adjustment that does little for forward motion of the body - in the case of Greek, the more important element is put before the explicative element. It is likely that if there is some sort of trailing off of volume at the end of a phrase, that would be possible. Also, because the last word is often short, it was probably said more quickly - seemingly half the time to bring up the trailing leg.

Those ideas of speed are premised on the idea that the same humanbeing that walks is the one that talks and listens. Movement is suitable for the same humanbeing that speech is suitable for them to both speak and listen to.

Nonsense explicated by rambling is not the best thing to offer you, but it is perhaps the best thing that I can offer you.

Anyway, despite having waffled this waffle, I'll try to get some sort of recording together before Sunday - even if it does have cicadas in the background.
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