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Romanos

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 13 Oct 2004 :  23:11:31  

 

I collect ancient coins, and one of my specialties is coins of the Greek cities of the Balkans during the Roman Empire. I have noticed that when the names of the Roman emperors and officials are spelled out in Greek letters, if you pronounce the names using the modern Greek pronunciation, they seem to match the Latin pronunciation. For example, "Antoninus" is spelled ANTWNEINOS, where EI represents Latin I, and so is pronounced just as it is in modern Greek. (Obviously, the OS ending is the expected hellenization of a Latin masculine ending.)
I am not a scholar, nor very knowledgeable about ancient languages, but the modern Greek pronunciation that we use in the Greek church for "koiné" (kiní) and Byzantine Greek seems very natural and easy compared to what I learned in college NT Greek. When I read my Greek Bible, I of course read it with modern pronunciation.
So I am in favor of using modern pronunciation.

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Windwalker

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 24 Oct 2004 :  19:48:56  

 

I am no scholar but an incessant inquirer into ancient wisdom, which seems to me to be as valid to day as then (extracting some scientific advances of course). Anyway, I wonder if correct or authentic pronunciation of ancient Greek is all that critical for exploring the wonders of ancient texts? I, for instance, speak an Appalachian dialect of the modern American English language but I have no problem reading an English newspaper or book no matter where it was printed. It seems more impotant -- to me -- to know the culture and history of the time in order to understand the words rather than the exact pronunciation. If I have missed the whole point of the discussion, forgive me but also, please, enlighten me.

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George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 24 Oct 2004 :  22:09:09  

 

You have not missed the point, and, in my opinion, what you say is true. There is a difference in degree rather than in quality. Let me use an example. We discuss now without being in the same place, face to face. Is there nothing that we miss? Is it absolutely the same as if we were talking face to face? Yet, we can discuss indeed, understand each other, even have an important discussion. The same happens in the language. Pronunciation is one of the elements one misses trying to have as full a knowledge of Greek as possible.
And there is not only one pronunciation. Ancient Greek had many dialects like modern Greek, and as Eideneier says "one of the most important scientific discoveries of the recent decades, is that modern Greek dialects are connected with the ancient Greek dialects spoken in the same geographic areas". They had differences like those between Appalachian English and Irish, they had more differences than these, - while written Greek had its own pronunciation too! I'm sure you can get some new sense both of your Appalachian English and of British English when you listen to a native of London, and an even more different sense when you listen to an oratorio of Britten's. Eideneier in the same book ("From Rhapsody to Rap") reminds that "the Homeric works are transmitted to us in a written form of the language, which tries to depict on the paper as closely as possible the artistic language of aoidoi and rapsodoi. And we must say again emphatically, that it is not about the language of oral communication: Homer did not compose in the way he spoke, neither the written composition was related with the spoken language. (...) When we refer to the history of the Greek language, in reality we refer to the history of the style of the Greek written language".

This is why I think that when someone says "I want to know how to pronounce ancient Greek" the first question would be "What ancient Greek of all?", but to want to decide what pronunciation to learn and how, is not only a technical need (I have to pronounce somehow!, in whatever way), but also an essential need, the need to talk with someone face to face instead by email only. This need includes more than pronunciation, but it includes also pronunciation. And of course, there are so many things to learn by etymology, interpretation and all the ways we have to approach the texts and the language herself besides pronunciation, that we must not complain. There are still much to learn and more important than what we miss. And in the end, although I prefer Modern Greek (Athenian) pronunciation, the decisive factor in all cases is if someone enjoys speaking. I would say that in this respect non-Greek people have an advantage here, they can re-invent the ancient Greek pronunciation – provided they will forget this or that "Authentic Ancient Greek Pronunciation", being aware that they indeed re-invent, in ways that please their ears and heart. I know this sounds a little anarchical, but it's a thought that I make, I hope with a good reason - while I strongly recommend learning the living pronunciation of Greek by modern Greeks.

Read also an excellent (and long) article published at Filologia Neotestamentaria 8 (1995), pp. 151-185, about The error of Erasmus and un-greek pronunciations of Greek

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Nikolaos

Netherlands
6 Posts

Posted - 15 Jul 2005 :  14:52:09  

 

Dear friends,

although I never studied linguistics and my scolarly interests are laying on the sphere of Theology, I consider it logical to express my μαρτυρία (martyria) as a modern Greek.

I believe that the continuity of a language is an important factor for someone to be based on when seeking the source of the problem. A living organism never fails to give authentic martyria. The scholars may discover indications or even proof supporting their opinion, but it remains an opinion, which occasionaly turns into a theory.

Moreover, as George notices, Homer was not writing in spoken Greek! The distinction should be made between written and spoken language, because it is unlikely, according to my opinion, pieces of litterature to indicate, moreover to prove theories of pronounciation. Exampli gratia, the ancient dialects, which are living witnesses (Pontiac, Cypriot, etc), trade the pronounciation of -ει and -οι at the end of verbs as modern greek does it, that is 'ι'.

My advice, as a native Greek, to the students of the language,will not necessarily be to follow the modern-Greek pronounciation when learning ancient greek (this anyway is a matter of free choice), but definitely to study the tradition of the Greeks as a living tradition, where the past is united with the present and remains alive.

My greetings,
N.P.

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shrewyak

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 13 Oct 2005 :  16:27:35  

 

I am preparing to go to graduate school for classical studies and I have question regarding learning modern vs ancient Greek. Obviously there is much more material available for the study of modern Greek, and since now I have a busy work schedule I would prefer to start learning through one of the many audio courses available. Now the texts that I will eventually be studying will be in ancient Greek, so how much would it benefit me to learn modern Greek? I guess what i am also asking is, would it give me bad habits or hinder my eventual learning of ancient Greek? Would the modern English vs Shakespearean English be a good analogy to the relationship? Any input would be appreciatted.

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