The book The Prosody of Greek Speech
is truly insightful. I briefly read through the whole book, and recommend it to those who are teaching Greek, especially using an aural/oral pedagogy - at least a brief review of it. I'm not a linguist, but have had some linguistic training and have tried to keep abreast of some topics the last few years - so I may get some terms wrong. (Note: the book is very technical, and filled with jargon).
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 English the phrase "What do you mean." has a number of ways it can be spoken. (a) "What↑ do you mean?" (b) "What do you mean↓?" (c) "What, do you mean...?" ask the same question, but incorporate different emotional content,the first surprise, the second frustration, the third an admission of surprise and self-correction. But there are constraints on word order, etc. that are intrinsic to the language. That's what The Prosody of Greek Speech
is getting at.
How can we demonstrate that there actually were prosodic domains intermediate between the word or appositive group and the utterance? And if we can, how do we know which sequences of words can make up these phonological phrases and which cannot? Under what circumstances, if any, can a subject be phrased with its Verb? Can a direct object modified by an Adjective be phrased with its Verb? What happens if there is also an indirect object? Is a Prepositional Phrase always a phonological phrase by itself or can it be joined with an adjacent constituent? In addition to discovering its syntactic constituen-cy, we should also like to know what the Greek phonological phrase sounded like; specifically whether, in addition to the temporal demarcation (final lengthening) normally found at the end of phonological phrases, the Greek phonological phrase was also characterized by tonal properties such as the scaling of accentual peaks within the phonological phrase
I bet what really killed the tonal aspect of Greek was that it became an international language. Too many Barbarians learned it and changed the tone from a genuine Greek tone, to an easy stress based
That may well be true. But don't confuse prosody with a tonal accent. Modern Greek has prosody, as all languages do. In written language, prosody is more hidden, we call it other names: fronting, emphasis, de-empahasis, pause, postponement, cadence, rhythm, etc. In poetry, prosody may be more prominent, but it is present in all types of literature: narrative, poetry, oration, proverbs, ktl. The prosody of Greek may have changed some when the phonemic length difference collapsed (ο = ω, ε = η, ᾱ = α; ῑ = ι; ῡ = υ). It would be interesting to see if this change in vowel length changed the Greek language structure - modern Greek is more word order oriented than ancient Greek, I've been told.
I remember that I was told that when Chinese speakers mock American English - they speak a bunch of gibberish in monotone; when English only speakers mock Chinese speakers, they speak in short syllables with repeated rising-falling pitches. What you are hearing is the difference in prosody between the two languages. But prosody goes beyond the word boundary, to the phrase, clause, sentence and even paragraph boundaries. Speed of delivery, pauses, etc. all figure into the mix. (I wonder is some languages take less time to process than others? Is there an optimal language?).
Then there is what I call the phonemic center of the mouth (I'm sure it has a more proper linguistic term): the place in the mouth where the tongue seems to hang out and colour all the speech. Greek more to the font of the palate; In German, near the back of the palate; Hebrew even further back. Some consonants take longer to pronounce than others; I'm sure that comes into play. Almost every language learner colors their second language with overtones of their first. They also color their second language with the syntax and thought patterns of their first language. But I think that since Modern Greek is so close to Koine, that it should be used for students modelling when they try to speak. There is plenty of NT audio to listen to from native Greek speakers.
Just my two cents, correct me where I'm wrong.