When I took Koine Greek my teacher taught us to pronounce omicron differently than specified by the book, Basics of Biblical Greek by William D. Mounce. Instead of pronouncing it as the o in pot, he had us pronounce it as the o in poke. For example, the book would instruct us to say anthropos, (the Greek word for man - sorry, I can't figure out how to post in Greek font on here, so that'll have to do :D), “anthropas” and he would say it as “anthropos”. He also said omicron as “ohmicron” instead of “ahmicron”. I’ve never come across anyone, either in books or online, who pronounces omicron in biblical Greek this way, so I’m wondering why he had us learn it like this. Is this incorrect, or is this an acceptable alternative? I’d definitely rather have it be the latter as it’s now thoroughly engrained in me that way, but as I’m going to teach my siblings Koine Greek now, I’d like to know if I should go to the pain of relearning it so I can teach it to them correctly. Thanks!
If in "pot" o is pronounced 'mixed' with an a sound, this is not what happens in Greek, where o is just this. However, in poke too the o is mixed with an u sound (poouk), which is also not happening in Greek. Think of a word with a clear o and pronounce it thus. For the Greek o I use the "oasis" example (separate o from asis, and you have the Greek sound of o) at the www.ellopos.net/elpenor/lessons/lesson1.asp">Greek Letters lesson. The word "job" also is close to the Greek o. The word "for" also is close.
I think the sound of omicron in Koine Greek is somewhat debateable between a sound like that in poke or a sound like that in pot. That is why I suggest either one may be used, as one may decide upon, and as long it is different from the quantity of omega.
In the first century O mega was pronounced the same as O mikron. That is why the Greeks came up with two names "mega" and "mikron".
Evidence? We have many papyri where writers in the first century mix up these two letters, so many in fact, that we can be sure that these are not accidents but two symbols for sounds that were pronounced the same. You may see a summary of evidence for first century Greek at www.biblicalulpan.org under "courses" "Greek demo" H KOINH PROFORA or directly www.biblicalulpan.org/PDF%20files/PRONSYS1%202005.pdf Basically, in the first century the language had already developed into a system that was close to 'modern Greek' plus two vowel sounds [ ü ] and [ e ].
That is why the modern pronunciation is a good system for KOINH Greek, and why, perhaps even better, someone using a historically reconstructed KOINH as outlined in the above webpage (not the Mounce book!) can hear the modern pronunciation easily and shift into modern easily.
I would strongly recommend AGAINST 'ah' for O mikron. That mixes up phonemic sounds and produces something that was never part of the Greek language. Ever. Think of it: you might want to sing AGIOS AGIOS AGIOS and might be embarassed to find out that you were singing AGIAS AGIAS AGIAS "of a holy female (goddess?thing?), 3x".
For the record, linguistically, in Homer's day O mega was probably closer to 'awe' (in some dialects of English), and O mikron, besides being shorter in time, was probably slightly higher and central in the mouth and closer to the 'o' in 'oasis'. S. Allen, Vox Graeca, has this correctly. However, length dropped out of the Greek sound system shortly after Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE) and before the first century. The resulting change to Greek was as great as the English vowel shifts that occurred between Chaucer and Shakespeare. And while we might use modern English pronunciation for both these English literatures, the reverse is not recommended. One would not recommend Chaucer's pronunciation for either Shakespeare or modern English. Even more, we wouldn't want to use a 'mistaken Chaucer' for anything. Likewise, 'ah' (alpha!) for either O mega or O mikron should just be erased from the options for students, no matter how well-meaning the intention was.