Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby RandallButh » September 1st, 2011, 5:13 am

Vasile Stancu wrote:
RandallButh wrote:
In effect what you mean is that you choose a system where you maximize distinctions based on orthography.


Not only that, but a system which is also based on natural sounds; ...

It is not (critically) important that the system should to be acurate historically,


Linguists that have worked with 'Restored Attic' only dealt with "natural sounds", to do otherwise would have been non-linguistic. And a restored system might as well be accurate historically. If someone could propose "A" or "B" and one of them was the historical one, then that one might as well be chosen. It would be silly, and ultimately selfdefeating, to choose a non-historical one. Like trying to apply Pseudo-Chaucer to Shakespeare. the arbitrariness of such an approach will fail in the end.

When people learn another language it is natural to adapt to the new language rather than try to adapt the new langauge to themselves.
And as to the widest functional use for the richness of the whole language: "The Koine can be considered the minimal/simplest system that could carry the ancient language."

This is where the adage, 'if it was good enough for Paul, and Luke, and Josephus, then it is good enough for me' applies.
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Vasile Stancu » September 1st, 2011, 7:51 am

RandallButh wrote:"The Koine can be considered the minimal/simplest system that could carry the ancient language."


Indeed, I can understand that; however, I am still hoping that we may be able sometime to commonly speak about "a system which could be considered the maximal/most comprehensive system, that can easily and naturally carry the ancient language at any of its ages"...
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby RandallButh » September 1st, 2011, 8:20 am

Vasile Stancu wrote:
RandallButh wrote:"The Koine can be considered the minimal/simplest system that could carry the ancient language."


Indeed, I can understand that; however, I am still hoping that we may be able sometime to commonly speak about "a system which could be considered the maximal/most comprehensive system, that can easily and naturally carry the ancient language at any of its ages"...


That is easy to answer, but it only partially applies. The Sidney Allen and Stephen Daitz' system is the most comprehensive and has already been worked out with a reasonable consensus about its validity. Of course, it can carry the ancient language, easily, because it 'is' the most ancient recoverable layer. However, to ask that it carry 'any of its ages' is the wrong question and is asking it to do something that never happened in antiquity. That is like asking to use a validated Chaucerian pronunciation for all later stages of the English language. It is wrong-headed, especially after the Great Vowel Shift (14-16c for English [triggered by the black death?], 4-2c BCE for Greek [triggered by Alexandrian hellenistic?]). And to set up a 'pseudo-chaucerian' system would only make matters worse. Basically, the ancient Koine pronunciation system was on the "Shakespearian" side of the vowel shift and is the natural choice just like Shakespearian is the natural choice for English, unless almost all of one's reading was going to be restricted to 'pre-vowel shift'.
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Vasile Stancu » September 1st, 2011, 5:57 pm

RandallButh wrote:... However, to ask that it carry 'any of its ages' is the wrong question and is asking it to do something that never happened in antiquity...


I believe I have already admitted that such a thing never happened in antiquity; what I am expecting is that it may happen in our contemporaneity.

May I have one last question: I suspect that anyone who has decided to adopt a certain system, the same person would use that system when reading any piece of ancient literature, regardless of its age. Is my assumption correct? Do you personally prefer to shift from restored Koine to restored Attic when reading Plato, for instance? (By the way, what about Homer?)

(By another way: the Allen - Daitz samples that I can find on Internet sound very strange to my ear, as if it were a kind of an artificial language. Is it just my inability to appreciate it at its true value? Does it claim that this is the way people really spoke the language in those times?)
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 1st, 2011, 6:46 pm

Vasile Stancu wrote:May I have one last question: I suspect that anyone who has decided to adopt a certain system, the same person would use that system when reading any piece of ancient literature, regardless of its age. Is my assumption correct? Do you personally prefer to shift from restored Koine to restored Attic when reading Plato, for instance? (By the way, what about Homer?)


I may be idiosyncratic but I pronounce Classical (Golden, Silver Age) Latin differently from later (Christian) Latin.

As for a restored Attic, I can't really handle the aspirated consonants properly. I think I can produce them, but I can't really hear them.

Stephen
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Devenios Doulenios » September 1st, 2011, 8:48 pm

χαιρε Vasile,

As for which Greek accent to apply to Plato, the Greeks of today apply the same accent to Plato as they do to Koine writers: the Modern Greek one. I don't know for certain, but I would guess they would apply the same accent to Homer and others who did not use Attic. I recently did a first read of Plato's Symposium in Greek and while doing so practiced reading it aloud, using the Modern Greek accent, just as I use it for the Greek Bible. It sounded natural to me. After all, both Plato and the Greek Bible are in ancient Greek. (I refer to the original NT and the LXX, not a modern Greek translation.) Would Plato approve? Maybe, maybe not. But from what I've read, during the heyday of Attic, Attic was not the only Greek dialect used for literature, or for everyday communication. Would someone speaking Ionic, for example, switch to Attic when reading Plato? (It's a relevant question because in ancient times reading aloud, even to oneself, was the norm.) Maybe, but it seems to me that it would be most natural for the person to use their own dialect. After all, given what people do today with modern languages, I expect relatively few people spoke multiple dialects of ancient Greek.

Based on my experience in working with modern languages (French, Spanish, German, Portuguese) and native speakers, what usually happens in such a case when reading literature or other materials in the language being studied or spoken is that the speaker does not switch accents if the material was composed in a dialect that differs from his/her own. Instead, he reads the material in his native dialect. When I was studying Spanish in college, I focused on the Latin American variety, although I also read literature from Spain. But when I and other students read aloud from Peninsular works (written in Spain), we did not switch to Castillian accent, used in Spain, to read them (although we could have, as we learned about it also). We used the Latin American accent, and the teachers did not mind at all. Also, I had some native speakers as teachers, and they used their native accent, regardless of the origin of the material. It seemed completely natural both to the natives and non-natives to do things that way. Everybody understood everybody else, and nobody was offended.

To use Randall's examples of Chaucer and Shakespeare, most professors and most students do not attempt to reproduce Chaucer or Shakespeare's pronunciation when they read them aloud. Nor do actors when they recite these works in a performance. Americans like me use American pronunciation for these writers, and Britons use their preferred accent.

I haven't heard the restored Attic, so I can't speak to how artificial it may sound. I do know after listening to the New Testament being read with the Modern Greek accent, after hearing it read first in Erasmian that the Modern accent sounds more natural to me. And I expect that Randall's restored Koine will sound natural also. (BTW, Randall, I downloaded the audio sample of the Prologue to John from your site yesterday. Am looking forward to listening to it.) As for Latin, as a student and former teacher, I first learned the restored classical accent. But after hearing files of the Vulgate read with an accent based on Spanish, I thought the Spanish-based one sounded natural, and the restored classical sounded very artificial. I then heard some Latin using the Ecclesiastical accent (based on Italian), and it sounded natural to me also—much more so than the restored classical.

As for your proposed system making distinctions between sounds that later fell together, such an approach strikes me as just as artificial as Erasmian. And even proponents of Erasmian often will admit its artificiality. If that's what you want, why reinvent the wheel? Why not use Randall's Living Koine system? It has the virtue of being historically accurate. As for how speakers of modern languages deal with this kind of issue, most languages are up to 50% redundant. Context, practice, and learning the sound and writing systems well resolves the majority of ambiguities. Even in a language like Spanish which is highly phonetic, there are occasionally ambiguities. Some speakers pronounce j and g alike in certain contexts, for example. But there are seldom any problems figuring out what is meant if you are gaining a good command of the language and paying attention to context.

By all means, use whatever system you want and you feel comfortable with. But if you're going for a "natural" system, I suggest you pick either the Buthian approach or the Modern Greek one. From what I've read, there is some disagreement/uncertainty on how Attic's pitch accent was pronounced. Given that, it seems to me that a restored Attic would be somewhat artificial in any case. With the other 2 approaches (Buth and Modern), you can at least demonstrate with a high assurance of certainty that the pronunciation was actually used by real speakers of the language at some point in history.

Devenios Doulenios
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος
"τὴν ζωὴν καὶ τὸν θάνατον δέδωκα πρὸ προσώπου ὑμῶν τὴν εὐλογίαν καὶ τὴν κατάραν ἔκλεξαι τὴν ζωήν ἵνα ζῇς σὺ καὶ τὸ σπέρμα σου"-Dt. 30:19

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby RandallButh » September 2nd, 2011, 12:32 am

I appreciate Devenios' reply. People tend to read material in a language in their own dialect of that language.

Presumably, that would mean that Josephus or Paul would read Plato in their 1st century dialect. In answer to Vasili's question, that is how I would read Plato, too.

The only exception to this practice would be when purposefully wanting to read old poetry. For that I would try to read metrically. And sometimes I used to use Restored Attic on Homer or the Athenian playwrights. I tend to avoid it nowadays because it is more important for me to get one dialect internalized. If I was as secure in my Greek as my Hebrew, I might go back to reading old poetry that way, just for curiousity's sake. This may be compared to reading Chaucer as Chaucer in English. Reading Chaucer in such a funky sounding dialect can be entertaining. Such occasional readings certainly don't change my English when speaking normally. And this last comment brings us back to why the question is important in Greek. 'Reading aloud' is not the question. But what dialect does one want to internalize? If one is reading from multiple periods, the natural choice is the dialect that one becomes capable of fluent communication. This also raises the question of 'carrying capacity'. Since I want to be able to think in and with the ancient Greek, using those infinitives, futures, datives, and vocab that have fallen out of the modern language, I have chosen a pronunciation that is slightly expanded from modern Greek. The Koine vowel system seems to provide that sufficient 'carrying capacity' for the old language. When in Greece I drop the Hta [e] sound on the street but tend to keep the Y-psilon [y] since 'umlaut-u' is heard by Greeks as [i] and its foreignness fits with my own foreignness in any case. The bigger problem in Greece is going in and out of modern/ancient.
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Vasile Stancu » September 2nd, 2011, 1:36 am

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experience.
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Devenios Doulenios » September 2nd, 2011, 7:52 pm

I appreciate Randall's thoughtful response. One quick follow-up, with more examples from Spanish.

While taking graduate courses in Old Spanish (circa 5th/6th centuries A.D. to 1500) at Louisiana State University, we read some 12th and 14th century poetry from Spain. When we read aloud from these works, we used modern Latin American pronunciation. These were the original texts, not modernized Spanish versions. Similarly, when I read Cervantes' Don Quijote in its original form (16th century Spanish, comparable in reading difficulty to Shakespeare in English) for pleasure and read aloud for practice, I used modern Latin American Spanish pronunciation.

My example earlier about ambiguity in pronunciation (j and g) would have been more pertinent if I had talked about vowels. One typical example is the vowel /e/, often written é (as in ¡Olé!, "Hurray!" "Bravo!"). In Spanish this sound and the diphthong ei/ey (both spellings are used, e.g., rey, "king", reina, "queen") are pronounced just alike. But there is seldom any confusion in understanding despite the shared sound, once you begin internalizing the language.

A good teacher, of course, will help students navigate such potential pitfalls as he/she is teaching the sound system and orthography. The student learning on his own will need to become aware of them and keep them in mind, but it is doable. Last year I switched from Erasmian to Modern pronunciation for my Greek, after being used to Erasmian for 40 years. It was difficult at first, but I got used to the new system fairly quickly, and almost never slip back into Erasmian now. As the majority of my Greek is self-taught, that proves it can be done if one works at it. One big help was the audio files from GreekLatinAudio.com. I recommend them to anyone wanting to make the switch or considering it, and to beginners also.

Vasile, best wishes, and success with your continued learning. :)

Devenios Doulenios
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος
"τὴν ζωὴν καὶ τὸν θάνατον δέδωκα πρὸ προσώπου ὑμῶν τὴν εὐλογίαν καὶ τὴν κατάραν ἔκλεξαι τὴν ζωήν ἵνα ζῇς σὺ καὶ τὸ σπέρμα σου"-Dt. 30:19

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'
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Re: Does pronunciation matter? If so, why?

Postby Nikolaos Adamou » September 3rd, 2011, 7:45 pm

I did not want to keep discussing these issues, but, I would like to post few questions.

1) when we I think about majority, majority of whom, - is it the same if we put all together, or a distinction needs to be made.
Natives and non natives, even scholars are the same?
2) the discussion is about "pronunciation" or προφορά, while the issue is more general, the sound of the voice given by letters composing words,
and if we want to put it in appropriate terms of the Greek grammars by the Greeks, prosody, προσῳδία,
which is the first unit that Greek grammars of the antiquity deal with,
the relationship between γράμμα - how a letter is written - στοιχεῖον - the dynamic (phonetic) characteristics of it.
3) The way that sound is pronounced cannot be learn from those who are not natives.
4) A proper understanding of the sound, gives the correct spelling,
orthophony and orthography are two sides of the same coin.
5) http://readgreek2me.blogspot.com/2011/08/which-greek-grammars-do-i-use-and-why.html
here I give the links of the greek grammars and commentaries,
Hellenism is the term used when the voice is Hellenic like,
Solacism is the syntax is not appropriate, incorrect, and therefore not clear in terms of the meaning, &
Barbarism is when the voice does not sound like Hellenic voice.
and the cholia on Theodosios discussing the above in barbarism describe situations similar to those that appear when follows a non hellenic practice.
6) Helladius in the 1712, writing in parallel Greek & Latin also takes the same position,
so if one has a hard time to understand the argument in Greek may look at the Latin parallel text.
7) Academic Honesty requires one not to refer "modern" greek pronunciation but Historical Greek Pronunciation, as Karagounis and recently Philemon Zachariou in his
Reading and Pronouncing Biblical Greek: Historic Evidence of Authentic Sounds showed.

I was recording recently a reader from a Greek Orthodox Church reading the Gospel reading.
He was confusing in his reading the ὅς as ὡς. The fact that we make mistakes, does not mean that things are the same.

From Homeric to Classical period we have the largest change in Hellenic language. Obviously, that period many things, including the sound, changed.
But from the Hellenistic period the stability is more or less given in the language, and the next drastic change is regretfully in 1981.
But even if the last 30 years many in Greece lost a lot from their understanding of our language, does not mean that all we lost our minds or our memories, or our knowledge.

The solution I propose is to go back to Byzantine Grammarians who kept the Hellenistic tradition.
[url]The Byzantine grammarians[/url] by Robert Henry Robins - 1993 - 278 pages is a good example.

Thanks
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