Is this a viable pronunciation system?

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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 21st, 2015, 2:48 am

Chris Servanti wrote:I have seen this in buth's work especially with the upsilon. The only problem I have with that is that there is no way to know this kind of authentic pronunciation for even a few words, let alone the entire language
Let's talk for a moment about how attitudes shape understanding.

The type of attitude that produces statements like "maximum differentiation between letters helps students", also produces the idea that every word must / should have its own meaning (λόγος/ῥῆμα), every extant grammatical form should have a differentiable class or function (-θην/-όμην), that things spoken can not go beyond what is stated (ἡμῶν/ὑμῶν).

But does it really help students to think in those terms? Evidently not.

On the basis that in those cases of the working of the language, where it is not helpful for students to make maximum differentiation, I question whether applying the same maximalistic attitude to pronunciation really helps students either.
Chris Servanti wrote:authentic pronunciation

In Buth's terms, the way to know how vowels were confused in spelling (and by implication in pronunciation) for "even a few words", is by looking at the evidence from the papyri and inscriptions, which are autographs containing mistakes to a larger or lesser degree. Some of the evidence that has led him to those conclusions is set out in the preface to his edition of a small selection of Epictetus (ISBN 965-7352-07-X). There is nothing in what he says that has not been noticed by others, but what he has done is to spell out the system of pronunciation that must needs be existed for the errors to have been made (systematically). Besides those spelling errors, adopting that system doesn't seem to interfere with understanding.

Let me say, (from myself), that there is a big difference between listening to a text in which all the words, forms and grammatical (morpho-syntactic) structures are familiar, and listening to a text in a completely foreign language. The more familiar one is with a language, the more comprehensible a listening text becomes to understand. Beginners start out learning a language with no skill in the grammar of that language. If they want to express themselves, they unsyntactically string a few words together. When they listen, they may recognise a familiar word or two and assume a meaning (basically by contextually guessing).

Continuing with my thoughts, listening is usually not dictation, it is comprehension. Dictation is itself a useful application of listening skills, but it involves recognising what has been said and writing it down - listening and productive use of the exact same language. Most people don't walk around with notebooks, writing down what others say, then reading it to be able to make sense of it. We write down what we hear after we have understood it, so that we can remember it better or more accurately.

Further, as listening develops in a language, more of what is said is recognised. If that is forced into the reproduction model in the early stages, it seems that a lot of progress is being made, but later there is an inability to differentiate between the most important things that have been heard and those of lesser importance. Comprehension breaks down when input is too quick. If listening develops as ever more accurate (grammatically directed) guessing, then at the higher levels, ranking the importance of the various elements is a lot more natural.

Another point is to ask whether the text comes before the spoken or the spoken before the text. Spelling is a convention for what is spoken, capturing some of the speech act (spoken or thought) and recording it. Having a pronunciation system that is exactly the same as the written, might obfuscate the directionality of presidence.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 22nd, 2015, 12:48 pm

I have said something about the changes and survival of η as "e" or "i" in Modern Greek, as an indication of variety, rather than conformity in another thread just now, seeing as it goes beyond what is being looked for here. The main point is that η among all other vowels is the one that has the least standardisation (the other and to a lesser extent is υ as "i" or "ου").

Does it affect understanding in the New Testament? Not so far as I have found yet. (υ as "i" or "ου", however, may have some bearing on how definitely we can the λυ- / λου- pair in Revelations).
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 24th, 2015, 3:09 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:I have said something about the changes and survival of η as "e" or "i" in Modern Greek, as an indication of variety, rather than conformity in another thread just now, seeing as it goes beyond what is being looked for here. The main point is that η among all other vowels is the one that has the least standardisation (the other and to a lesser extent is υ as "i" or "ου").
As Tim Finney asks, "how is modern English pronounced?" There's some variety.

A couple of useful links:
As the last points out:
As regards Greek pronunciation, the disputed letters in the period of the NT are the following:
Six consonants: β γ δ ζ θ χ
Three vowels: η υ ω
Seven diphthongs: αυ ευ ηυ αι ει οι υι
Buth, Theophilos, and modern are all putting on the same green.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 9th, 2016, 4:02 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
As regards Greek pronunciation, the disputed letters in the period of the NT are the following:
Six consonants: β γ δ ζ θ χ
Three vowels: η υ ω
Seven diphthongs: αυ ευ ηυ αι ει οι υι
Buth, Theophilos, and modern are all putting on the same green.
For what it's worth, I was just reviewing pronunciation decisions with Micheal Palmer. Here are my current preferences, which are similar to Buth's but not identical.

I pronounce all of the consonants as in modern Greek. I think this is the same as Buth.

η, υ should be distinct from each other and from ι and ει. I pronounce η as in IPA e, as in German beten. I pronounce υ as in German ü. I think this is the same as Buth.

I pronounce αυ, ευ, ηυ as αβ, εβ, ηβ - I really have no idea whether ηυ was pronounced this way in the Hellenistic period, or how Buth pronounces it, but I find the symmetry helpful for remembering and teaching.

I pronounce αι, ει as in modern Greek. I think this is the same as Buth.

I currently pronounce οι and υι the same as ι, I know that Buth pronounces οι as German ü, I am not sure how he pronounces υι.

I currently pronounce rough breathing, I think Buth does not.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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RandallButh
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by RandallButh » January 10th, 2016, 2:29 am

That was pretty good, Jonathan.

We basically differ on OI and YI, and the rough breathing.

OI was the same as Y in the first century, so I pronounce both as German umlaut [ue]/French u.

Because of an attested spelling like OIEIW "to the son" I pronounce as υ--ι--ω [IPA: yio]. In other words I give both the οι-sound and the ει-sound their full vowel color, though I try to slur them as one syllable if given half a chance υι--ω.

Gotta love the Greeks. Aber die Roemer sind spinner! (Asterix)

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Stephen Carlson » January 10th, 2016, 3:01 am

Here's a Language Log post about Sanskrit scholars speaking Sanskrit at conferences: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=23412
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Paul-Nitz
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 10th, 2016, 10:20 am

Jonathan Robie wrote: Here are my current preferences
Jonathan,

Those choices look close enough to be called "Restored Koine" to my ears.

I know a couple people who have adopted Restored Koine, but do pronounce the rough breathing mark. It causes no problem for understanding.

I know many who are unable to do an οι and υ like über. They try, and end up pronouncing it like an "ee" (as in "eat"). That's not much of a problem in communication. If I hear ι ανθρωπι ι καλι ισιν.... I can easily understand οι ανθωρποι καλοι εισιν.

The most frequent pronunciation misunderstanding I personally have experienced is when those who speak Restored Koine, but make eta's sound like epsilons. When they mean to say "τρέχῃς" but instead pronounce it as ̈́"τρέχες," I'm left wondering whether they mean τρέχεις, ἔτρεχες,or τρέχῃς.

By the way, after some reading about how the brain reads (Sousa) I'm coming to the conclusion that if a sound is not phonemic for a student in his mother-tongue, it has low value to teach them to pronounce a foreign sound. So, for example, African students have much difficulty producing the ü (German) sound. Some pick it up, most fail. I could spend much time pushing them to learn how to pronounce it, but since it held no meaning for them in their upbringing, it will not signal meaning for them, even if they learn to produce it accurately. I have the same experience in Chichewa. There is no sound in Chichewa which I cannot accurately produce. But I still do not HEAR the phonemic value between, for example, an aspirated and unaspirated "k" sound.

Thus, I think any pronunciation system will need to change slightly in different areas. But I think we can still call it by the same name (in this case, Restored Koine) if the basics are the same and there are no huge problems of misunderstanding between people using the variations.

I wonder about your students, Jonathan. Because of my German heritage, I don't have huge problem pronouncing the ü (German) sound, and I think I even hear it as a sound that has phonemic status. But I doubt that a majority of Americans have the same experience. If this is the case, I don't see a problem introducing the "pure" system and then allowing "ee" for οι and υ. That's what I do with my African students. But do call it "Restored Koine." Then people like me will know "Oh, good, this is a person I won't have to strain to understand."
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Stephen Hughes » January 11th, 2016, 11:01 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:I pronounce all of the consonants as in modern Greek. I think this is the same as Buth.
Do you pronounce the consonants with single values in all contexts, or with the full range of variations. People usually have to make quite some effort to take the extra steps.

Do you change sound for the γ between a simple "y" sound and the strong gargling gutteral sound? Likewise between the two pronunciations of the χ in the same positions?

Do you voice the κ, π, and τ when they follow the γ, μ and ν respectively? How about across word boundaries?

I must say, that when I used to use Modern Greek I was going through the process of cultural and identity adjustment with some difficulty, so wasn't aiming to sound native speaker, so I used only about 80% of the sounds correctly, but that was adequate. I was still asked what part of Greece my parents had come from. :x

The complex sound changes that are involved beyond the one-to-correspondences do take quite a bit of work and relearning of how to use your mouth muscles.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 11th, 2016, 3:33 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I pronounce all of the consonants as in modern Greek. I think this is the same as Buth.
Do you pronounce the consonants with single values in all contexts, or with the full range of variations. People usually have to make quite some effort to take the extra steps.

Do you change sound for the γ between a simple "y" sound and the strong gargling gutteral sound? Likewise between the two pronunciations of the χ in the same positions?

Do you voice the κ, π, and τ when they follow the γ, μ and ν respectively? How about across word boundaries?
I'm confident that a native Greek would find fault with my pronunciation of the consonants. When it comes down to it, I'm trying to come up with a system that is simple to teach, and I wouldn't want to load my students down with all that.

But one of the things that affects my pronunciation is that most of what I listen to is spoken with a modern pronunciation. One person in my class speaks modern Greek fluently and she definitely pronounces things differently than I do. She sounds much cooler. She has no problem understanding my pronunciation.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Is this a viable pronunciation system?

Post by Jonathan Robie » January 11th, 2016, 3:35 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:Those choices look close enough to be called "Restored Koine" to my ears.
OK,I'd like to call it a form of Restored Koine. I do think there's some variation within the Restored Koine community.
Paul-Nitz wrote:By the way, after some reading about how the brain reads (Sousa) I'm coming to the conclusion that if a sound is not phonemic for a student in his mother-tongue, it has low value to teach them to pronounce a foreign sound. So, for example, African students have much difficulty producing the ü (German) sound. Some pick it up, most fail. I could spend much time pushing them to learn how to pronounce it, but since it held no meaning for them in their upbringing, it will not signal meaning for them, even if they learn to produce it accurately. I have the same experience in Chichewa. There is no sound in Chichewa which I cannot accurately produce. But I still do not HEAR the phonemic value between, for example, an aspirated and unaspirated "k" sound.

Thus, I think any pronunciation system will need to change slightly in different areas. But I think we can still call it by the same name (in this case, Restored Koine) if the basics are the same and there are no huge problems of misunderstanding between people using the variations.

I wonder about your students, Jonathan. Because of my German heritage, I don't have huge problem pronouncing the ü (German) sound, and I think I even hear it as a sound that has phonemic status. But I doubt that a majority of Americans have the same experience. If this is the case, I don't see a problem introducing the "pure" system and then allowing "ee" for οι and υ. That's what I do with my African students. But do call it "Restored Koine." Then people like me will know "Oh, good, this is a person I won't have to strain to understand."
Good point. And "ee" may be the next best alternative.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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