Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby cwconrad » January 29th, 2013, 10:32 am

I've just been reading Randall Buth's fascinating post of a year ago (Jan 26, 2012) in the thread "Buth and Diacritical Marks" (http://ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtop ... a89c#p4436). The whole question of how Koine Greek texts were written and pronounced in the era of our concern has arisen anew in the proofreading work that Louis Sorenson and I have done on the soon-to-be-published third edition of Funk's Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek (see viewtopic.php?f=36&t=1691&p=9117#p9117). In one of our exchanges on whether the υ of the imperative λύε is long or short, we've raised the question whether there is any distinction between long and short iota or upsilon in Hellenistic Greek. Louis suggested that Randall probably would be content with using a monotonic keyboard for writing Koine Greek -- eliminating grave and circumflex accents. I seem to recall a discussion from a year or two ago about trying to conform our spelling and pronunciation of Biblical Greek to the scribal usage of the first century, such conformity to include not writing accents at all, or perhaps only a monotonic accent. My recollection is that Randall did not favor such an attempt, and that he argued rather that the spelling and accentuation of our modern printed Biblical Greek texts is important for pronunciation. I wonder whether we might revisit that question.

Randall says that the imposition of standard spelling and accentuation as we know it came in with the scribal shift to minuscule writing in the 9th century and that it imposed an Attic system of accentuation upon the Hellenistic Biblical texts. If that's a misunderstanding, I wonder whether Randall and/or others who really know about these matters would enlighten the rest of us. I'm only aware of Germans taking strict care to standardize orthographical usage so that spelling and sounding of words better represent the practice of speakers at the current time. Would it even be possible -- or desirable -- to think about writing Hellenistic Greek so that it more accurately represents the way Hellenistic Greek was spoken (and written) in the time and places of interest to us?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby RandallButh » January 30th, 2013, 10:09 am

Carl, you raise questions that can be answered for the most part, though some items may remain 'free'.

On accents, I think that the circumflex was still partially diagnostic in the first century so the polytonic system should be kept. Now before I am misquoted, let me explain. Words that ended in a circumflex ALWAYS kept their accent, at least according to the rules, and we can assume that a residual accent was heard on τῶν in words like τῶν ἀνθρώπων [tón anthrópon]. On the other hand, words like τόν in τὸν ἄνθρωπον [ton ánthropon] did not retain any accent in the spoken flow. Consequently, there were quite a few words that were heard in context with differing accents. I have been trying to be consistent in this over the last few years, something that I did not appreciate, say, fifteen years ago.

By the way, the grave accent was a 'potential place-holder accent.' It showed where an 'underlying' accent would appear under certain conditions. It was not pronounced unless one paused on the word. So as the last word in a phrase, a grave would be pronounced and written as acute, that is, as a pronounced accent. I also assume that some words that were marked by fronting for the purpose of focus would be pronounced even though having a 'grave accent.' The writing system did not mark this since it was mechanically generated as a spelling convention. That is, the word accent of the Focus would have been pronounced for a similar reason, the fronted focal word would likely have been spoken slightly slower and articulated more carefully. This is my personal reconstruction, I do not have ancient testimony. I only know that focal intonations turn up in many a non-tonal language, and I am guessing that such would have been the case in Greek from the Koine period.

In terms of orthography, in general I don't see a need to "unspell" standard published texts.
Although it irks me that Westcott and Hort's Koine spelling of names according to the oldest manuscripts was redone in order to appease an Erasmian pronunciation, like with Πειλᾶτος to Πιλᾶτος and Ἰωάνης to Ἰωάννης. The irksome part is that the rationale given for the change was "to follow 1st century convention." That, of course, was pulling wool over the eyes of readers, and might even be called academically dishonest. They should have said that they changed Westcott and Hort's spelling "for convenience." That would have been fair and honest.

Here is the orthography from the Nazareth Inscription, a first-century publication of a rescript from Caesar (Claudius?).
Irregular spellings in this 90-word, 22-line official inscription include:
line 5: αμετακεινητους ‘unmoved,’ [=ἀμετακινήτους ]
6 επιδιξη ‘would prove,’ [=ἐπιδείξῃ and in full writing επιδειξηι ]
9 εξερριφφοτα ‘thrown out,’ [=ἐξερριφότα]
10 δωλω ‘guile,’ [=δόλῳ, full writing δολωι]
16-17 θρησκκίας ‘devotion,’ [=θρησκείας]
18 τειμαν ‘to honor,’ [=τιμᾶν]
19-20 αμετακεινησαι ‘to not remove.’ [= ἀμετακινῆσαι]
There are no names in the inscription, but the orthographic conventions are fairly visible. For names one needs to look at the papyri like p45, 75, 66, and Vaticanus.

Here is the whole inscription, accents added, orthography preserved.
1 Διάταγμα Καίσαρος
ἀρέσκει μοι τάφους τύνβους
τε, οἵτινες εἰς θρησκείαν προγόνων
ἐποίησαν ἢ τέκνων ἢ οἰκείων,
5 τούτους μένειν ἀμετακεινήτους
τὸν αἰῶνα. ἐὰν δέ τις ἐπιδίξῃ τι-
νὰ ἢ καταλελυκότα ἢ ἄλλῳ τινὶ
τρόπῳ τοὺς κεκηδευμένους
ἐξερριφφότα ἢ εἰς ἑτέρους
10 τόπους δώλῳ πονηρῷ με-
τατεθεικότα ἐπ’ ἀδικία τῇ τῶν
κεκηδευμένων ἢ κατόχους ἢ λί-
θους μετατεθεικότα, κατὰ τοῦ
τοιούτου κριτήτιον ἐγὼ κελεύω
15 γενέσθαι καθάπερ περὶ θεῶν
ἐς τὰς τῶν ἀνθρώπων θρησκ-
κίας. Πολὺ γὰρ μᾶλλον δεήσει
τοὺς κεκηδευμένους τειμᾶν.
καθόλου μηδενὶ ἐξέστω μετα-
20 κεινῆσαι· εἰ δὲ μή, τοῦτον ἐγὼ κε-
φαλὴς κατάκριτον ὀνόματι
22 τυμβωρυχίας θέλω γενέσθαι.

Carl, doesn't line 2-3 strike you as a rather surprising Latinism, TE like -QUE?
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 31st, 2013, 5:06 am

Change orthotonic (?) conventions is probably impossible now (like my other fantasy: replacing the two sigmas with a lunate sigma), but I had dictatorial power, I would, at a minimum, drop the graphic grave accents on clitics (particularly the proclitics). Right now, the convention is that the graphic grave is dropped only if there is a breathing already on the vowel, so we have ὁ ἄνθρωπος with no graphic grave but τὸν ἄνθρωπον with one, etc.

I suspect that two-syllable personal pronouns like ὑμᾶς lost their accent when deaccented, and there is some slim written evidence for that. Perhaps those two can be written as enclitics. I'm not too sure about oblique forms of the third person personal pronoun αὐτός, but I think those are often deaccented as well.

While we're at it, why not drop the accents on the connecting particles και, δε, etc.? (Oh, I just did.)

Not sure what to do about the iota-subscripts. Probably, I'd leave them in as a reading aid.

Also, the punctuation. Right now, the punctuation in the critical editions makes hardly any sense from a Greek perspective and seems to be a modern (German?) style imposed on the text. I would prefer a punctuation that better reflects (what I think is) the prosody of the Greek language. This probably means more commas, after initial genitive absolutes and other participial frames, after strong (contrastive) topics, and after strong focus constituents, non-restrictive relative clauses, etc. Colons, not comma, should mark off parallel clauses.

For example, at Mark 1:8 instead of
Mark 1:8 NA27 wrote:ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
. One could re-punctuate it as:
Mark 1:8 scc wrote:ἐγώ, ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι · αὐτός δε, βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
. (without addressing what to do with the probably unaccented ὑμᾶς).
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby RandallButh » January 31st, 2013, 5:25 am

Stephen,
I follow you on most of this, but wonder why you want to drop the accent on ὑμᾶς? By my rules, as a circumflex it retains its accent even in context.

I do suspect that there were quite a few 'mini commas' when fronted, topical, and focal material was displaced from a default order. However, I'm not sure that we need to mark these since a responsible reading puts them back in when focusing on meaning.

Another quibble:

Stephen wrote
Mark 1:8 ἐγώ, ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι · αὐτός δε, βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ


I would prefer reading fronted Contextualizing Constitutents (aka 'Topic') without a pause and thus dropping any final acute accent. As mentioned above, Focal consituents are another matter and probably had different patterns, with a slight pause and therefore with a final acute accent.
Natually, as with most pragmatic matters, there are occasions when different readings are possible. Your verse Mark 1.8 can be read as simple frontings (non-Focal contextualization) if the main point is in how the baptisms differ, or a Focal intonation may be added as well, if the main point is "we're different." The previous verse might point to "we're different" as the main point, but I prefer to read
ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι · αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ

which leaves the main point as the difference in baptism.

That may come from reading Luke 3, where 'water' is a marked focus:
εγω μεν υδατι βαπτιζω υμάς
ερχεται δε ο ισχυρότερός μου ού ουκ ειμι ικανος λυσαι τον ιμαντα τών υποδηματων αυτού
αυτος υμάς βαπτισει εν πνευματι αγιω και πυρί
οὐ το πτυον εν τή χειρι αυτού διακαθαραι την αλωνα αυτού και συναγαγείν τον σιτον εις την αποθηκην αυτού
το δε αχυρον κατακαυσει πυρι ασβεστω.

PS: I marked final syllable accents that resist dropping (mostly circumflex). Other words receive their normal pre-final accents.
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 31st, 2013, 7:50 am

RandallButh wrote:I follow you on most of this, but wonder why you want to drop the accent on ὑμᾶς? By my rules, as a circumflex it retains its accent even in context.


This has nothing to do with--and does not affect--your general point about the survival of the circumflex accent into Koine. The issue is specific to the accusative and dative plurals of the first and second personal pronouns. There are two lines of evidence:

First, Smyth § 325f. says that there is evidence (mainly in Attic poetry) that the final syllable of these pronouns are short when unemphasized (accented as ἧμιν, ἧμας, etc.), and occasionally even when they are emphasized (accented as ἡμίν, ἡμάς, etc.). So what this means is that for unemphasized forms of these pronouns, there really wasn't a long vowel to support a true circumflex accent in Koine's predecessor, and so whatever reflex of the circumflex remained in Koine in other places, it is not there for these unemphasized pronouns.

The second line of evidence is that when these pronouns are unemphasized (i.e. not in focus or as a contrastive topic), they tend to follow Wackernagel's Law, suggesting to me that that are probably as enclitic as τινι, τινα, τισι, τινας, etc.

With this in mind, I now would emend my proposal of Mark 1:8 to
Mark 1:8 scc 2.0 wrote:ἐγώ, ἐβάπτισά ὑμας ὕδατι · αὐτός δε, βαπτίσει ὑμὰς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ

(I have not come to a decision about the use of the grave on a two-syllable enclitic following a paroxytone.)
RandallButh wrote:I do suspect that there were quite a few 'mini commas' when fronted, topical, and focal material was displaced from a default order. However, I'm not sure that we need to mark these since a responsible reading puts them back in when focusing on meaning.


I fully agree, but the point is too strong. One could say that about all punctuation. They weren't really there to begin with and responsible reading put them in. The issue is more on where to draw the line as to how much punctuation to put in. I favor being rather more explicit for the following reasons:

1. I think it is important to convey to modern readers what the prosody of the Greek sentence is, which the current punctuation practice of the critical editions does not do. By having a somewhat more unfamiliar system of punctuation, it lets the modern reader not only know but feel that they are not in Kansas anymore.

2. The prosody of the Greek sentence is not taught in Greek classes, and there is almost no training for current Greek teachers about this information structure stuff, so it would be nice if the edition of the Greek text did a lot of that work for them.

3. It is actually the practice of some Greek manuscripts. Though medieval manuscripts vary in the extent of their punctuation, some of them do mark these constituents with a hypostigme (the equivalent of a comma).

4. With a more liberal use of commas, one can get oxytones on certain fronted constituents for free, without having to propose a new convention for accentuation.

RandallButh wrote:Another quibble:

Stephen wrote
Mark 1:8 ἐγώ, ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι · αὐτός δε, βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ


I would prefer reading fronted Contextualizing Constitutents (aka 'Topic') without a pause and thus dropping any final acute accent. As mentioned above, Focal consituents are another matter and probably had different patterns, with a slight pause and therefore with a final acute accent.
Natually, as with most pragmatic matters, there are occasions when different readings are possible. Your verse Mark 1.8 can be read as simple frontings (non-Focal contextualization) if the main point is in how the baptisms differ, or a Focal intonation may be added as well, if the main point is "we're different." The previous verse might point to "we're different" as the main point, but I prefer to read
ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι · αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ

which leaves the main point as the difference in baptism.


It's probably a different interpretation of the information structure, but I view ἐγώ and αὐτός as contrastive topics (Goldstein's strong topics)--though they are topics, they also have the secondary focus in a double-contrast configuration (my theory of information structure is closer to Manfred Krifka's than Knud Lambrecht's, so I can tolerate more than one focus). Pronouns are also used for "switch topics," but they are not followed by a pause and I would not propose a comma for those.

RandallButh wrote:That may come from reading Luke 3, where 'water' is a marked focus:
εγω μεν υδατι βαπτιζω υμάς
ερχεται δε ο ισχυρότερός μου ού ουκ ειμι ικανος λυσαι τον ιμαντα τών υποδηματων αυτού
αυτος υμάς βαπτισει εν πνευματι αγιω και πυρί
οὐ το πτυον εν τή χειρι αυτού διακαθαραι την αλωνα αυτού και συναγαγείν τον σιτον εις την αποθηκην αυτού
το δε αχυρον κατακαυσει πυρι ασβεστω.

PS: I marked final syllable accents that resist dropping (mostly circumflex). Other words receive their normal pre-final accents.


And here's how I'm leaning to punctuating Luke 3:16b-17.
Luke 3:16 scc wrote:16b ἐγώ μεν ὕδατι, βαπτίζω ὑμάς. ἔρχεταί δε ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου · οὗ, οὔκ εἰμι ἱκανὸς λῦσαι τον ἱμάντα των ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ. αὐτός ὑμας βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ και πυρί. 17 οὗ το πτύον, ἐν τῃ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ διακαθᾶραι την ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ, και συναγαγεῖν τον σῖτον εἰς την ἀποθήκην αὐτοῦ. το δε ἄχυρον, κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ.


As you can see, I am still willing to retain most accents, including the standard accentuation on lexical words (e.g. nouns and verbs). I'm also willing to retain the smooth and rough breathings because I'm not convinced that Koine has completely become psilotic, especially in careful, elite speech (i.e., Luke).

It seems like we have somewhat different philosophies of punctuation, Randall. Yours seems aimed at the fluent Koine reader (where your proposal is not terribly different from the early manuscripts I've σεεν except with more spacing), while mine is more aimed at conveying graphically what the Greek sentence is doing prosodically. (I suppose you're already doing a lot of that, not graphically, but orally by verbalizing the text for your students.) Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby RandallButh » February 1st, 2013, 3:47 am

First, Smyth § 325f. says that there is evidence (mainly in Attic poetry) that the final syllable of these pronouns are short when unemphasized


Stephen, I think you're misreading/-applying Smyth. Smyth was quoting exceptions, poetic allo-forms, not the norm. that's what "sometimes" means. He still used a circumflexed final vowel for his unemphatic paradigm. Having access to poetic allo-forms might not be so different from having a preposition like πέρι instead of περί.
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby Stephen Carlson » February 1st, 2013, 5:02 am

RandallButh wrote:
First, Smyth § 325f. says that there is evidence (mainly in Attic poetry) that the final syllable of these pronouns are short when unemphasized


Stephen, I think you're misreading/-applying Smyth. Smyth was quoting exceptions, poetic allo-forms, not the norm. that's what "sometimes" means. He still used a circumflexed final vowel for his unemphatic paradigm. Having access to poetic allo-forms might not be so different from having a preposition like πέρι instead of περί.


Yes, these forms are found in poetry, but it is important to keep in mind that it is poetry that gives us fairly secure, contemporaneous length information. Prose does not. So, I'm not impressed that prose is not as helpful in this regard. So, yes, the allo-forms of ἡμας etc. did exist, just like the allo-forms of περι existed. I think that the existence of such allo-forms points to the existence of unaccented / clitic forms of these words (I also consider two-syllable prepositions to be proclitic in Koine), which is what we already expect from from analogous examples both within Greek and also in related languages.
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Re: Accents: Orthography and Orthophony(?)

Postby RandallButh » February 1st, 2013, 6:50 am

But the existence of the forms doesn't mean that they were the most common.
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