ἡ ὑποπροφορά is a term that I coined in early 2012 to refer to the pronunciation (προφορά) that lies beneath (ὑπό) one’s pronunciation. For Ancient Greek, the προφορά is the pronunciation scheme (Erasmian, Restored Attic, Buthian, Modern Greek, one’s own mix, et. al.) that one uses. The ὑποπροφορά is the more subtle way that that pronunciation scheme winds up sounding. As I see it, there are three (3) differences between the προφορά and the ὑποπροφορά.
#1 Οne’s προφορά is largely a matter of choice, whereas one’s ὑποπροφορὰ is largely not. An American can decide to speak Ancient Greek with a Modern Greek accent, but, for the most part, he will still wind up sounding like someone speaking Ancient Greek with an American accent. Particularly so to a Native Greek. I remember that Niko A. once commented that John Simon’s fantastic GNT audio at greeklatinaudio.com sounded “unnatural” to him, despite the fact that Simon uses a Modern Greek προφορὰ. I suspect that Niko, who is a Native Greek, was picking up more on Simon’s ὑποπροφορά than on his προφορά.
Somebody once said—I forget who, it might have been Mark Lightman--that the προφορὰ proposes but the ὑποπροφορά disposes. For example, various pronunciation schemes tell you that omicron is pronounced like short “o” in “office” OR like long “o” as in “note.” But, as a practical matter, all sorts of Ancient Greek speakers, Erasmians and MG and Buthians alike, often will pronounce omicron long like “o” as in “note” in open syllables, but like “o” in “office in (some) closed syllables. Really, it depends on the Greek word. Many people, even Modern Greeks, will say ὡ λώγως ἦν πρὼς τὼν θεὰν. (What Buth might call Modern Greek selective Doric Astartism.) Continental Europeans tend to do something similar with eta, like long “a” as in “late” in open syllables, but like short “e” as in pet in (some) closed syllables. (ἡ τες ὑποπροφορᾶς γραφή.) No Greek grammar will tell you to do this, but it happens all the time. Then there is the odd phenomenon of what I call American hypoprophoric final epsilon. Everyone agrees that epsilon should always be pronounced short “e” as in “pet.” But on a few select words like φίλατε many Americans pronounce the final ε like “ay” as in “late.” Why does this happen? Because ὑπὸ τῆς ὑποπροφορᾶς νικᾶται ἡ προφορά.
But the ὑποπροφορά is generally more subtle than how sounds are pronounced. The ὑποπροφορά is how sounds SOUND. One’s ὑποπροφορά consists of whether vowels are glided or clipped, how tonal the speech sounds, how fast words are spoken and which vowels and consonants are fully enunciated. Think about all the people you know for whom English is a second language. Many of these folks pronounce English precisely by the book (προφορἀ) but each of them has a distinct SOUND to their English (ὑποπροφορά.)
#2 For me, at least—maybe it’s just me, but for me at least—when it comes to understanding Ancient Greek, the ὑποπροφορά is a bigger factor than the προφορά. All things being equal, I find Erasmian to be a little easier to understand than MG or Buthian because it is more phonetic and I’m a little more used to it. But I have discovered that it is easier for me to understand a Buthian προφορά with a strong American ὑποπροφορά than it is to understand an Erasmian προφορά with, say, a strong French or British ὑποπροφορά. For me-- maybe it’s just me--the more American hypoprophoric one is—glided vowels, slow pace, no rolled rhos, unstressed short vowels reduced to schwa—the easier it is for me to understand you. Now, I’m not saying that one SHOULD or should ΝΟΤ adopt American hypoprophoric Greek. I have never told anyone how they should speak any language and I never will. All I am doing is expressing the fact that, for me, certain hypoprophorica make a prophora a little easier to understand. And I am talking only on the margins here. I can understand any προφορά not withstanding any ὑποπροφορά, so I have no strong feelings about how you speak Ancient Greek, as long as you do so often, and preferably to me. I am, in short, a descriptive, not a prescriptive, hypoprophorologist.
#3 I lied when I said that there are three differences between the ὑποπροφορά and the προφορά. I can only think of two, and I have already pretty much said everything on this “topic” that I want to. (Can something be ad nauseam the first time you say it?) By the way, what is this obsession with dividing everything into threes? Thus Caesar did with Gaul, thus vaudeville did with stooges. There are TWO ways ὑποπροφορά differs from προφορά.