Re: zeta, ksi etc (was: THEORY Ideal system of writing)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 14, 2004, 6:18|
On Friday, August 13, 2004, at 05:36 , Muke Tever wrote:
> On Fri, 13 Aug 2004 07:34:54 -0500, Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
>>> > Also the Greek Zeta, according to one textbook - /dz/
>>> No - 'tis the Semitic 'zai' (Hebrew 'zayin'). /dz/ is an widespread
>>> convention in reading ancient Greek. The evidence, however, is that it
>>> varied in the different dialects between [dd] ~ [zd] ~ [zz], with the
>>> latter becoming the norm in the Hellenistic period.
>> I believe we've discussed this before in the years we've both
>> been on the list, but what about <Zeus>, whose <z> comes from a
>> palatalized PIE */dy/ in *dyeus? This is not to deny the other
>> pronunciations were licit in various dialects, but it seems hard
>> not to admit this pronunciation at, at least, a very early,
>> perhaps prehistoric, period.
> << From the purely phonetic point of view, [...] the most
> reflex of [dy] and [gy] would have been something like [dž] or [dz]
> and such a pronunciation must in fact have been current in some
I'm well aware of this, and I've even stated on this list before that in
Mycenaean Greek the pronunciation was almost certainly an affricate. i.e.
[dZ] or [dz]. There was also almost certainly a voiceless affricate [tS]
ot [ts], which arose from earlier [tj] and [kj], and probably an aspirated
voiceless affricate from earlier [t_hj] and [k_hj]. In Linear B, the
initial consonant of syllables beginning with the affricates are all
transcribed with |z|.
We know quite clearly from the spelling that in the ancient Greek period,
[ts] (and [ts_h]) became [ss] (regressive assimilation) in some dialects
and [tt] (progressive assimilation) in other dialects.
It would be expected that [dz] would likewise become [zz] or [dd]. We know
from occasional spellings that it did indeed become [dd] in some dialects
such as Cretan Doric. But there would be no unambiguous way to indicate
[zz]. All we can do is to assume, reasonably IMHO, that zeta (early
written like H on its side, and later as Z) denoted [zz] in those dialects
where [ts] --> [ss]. Certainly this is the (normal) Hellenistic
pronunciation which the Romans at first transcribed as |ss| before
adopting the Greek letter.
But both sounds were a bit anomalous. Although some dialects had [zz], no
dialect had ungeminate /z/ as a phoneme; but [z] did occur as an allophone
of /s/ before voiced consonants. It was enough to make [zz] acceptable,
with the result that /z/ occurred only geminate in some ancient dialects
and in Hellenistic Greek.
[dd] was even anomalous in that, for some reason, voiced plosives were
otherwise not geminated. It is noteworthy in Cretan Doric, the anomalous
[dd] tended to give way to the perfectly acceptable [tt]. It seems that to
avoid either anomally, instead of simple assimilation, Mycenaean [dz] was
subject to metathesis and became [zd], i.e. /sd/ in many dialects,
including the Attic dialect of 5th century Athens. The sound, however,
seems generally to have been written with zeta; but the Lesbian dialect of
Aiolia retained the sound when others were tending to pronounce it [zz],
and in that dialect we do find the spelling sigma-delta.
> it was with this value that the letter (I) was carried to Italy,
> where it
> was used to represent [ts], for example Osc. húrz [horts] 'garden'
Yes, but Oscan cannot be used as _direct_ evidence of Greek pronunciation,
as the Oscans, like their neighboring Umbrians, as well as the Latin and
the Faliscans, all adopted their alphabets later from the Etruscans. The
Etruscans adopted a very early form of the western Greek alphabets(the
Hellnistic and later Greek alphabets are derived from the east Greek set
of alphabets). That it was archaic is evidenced by the fact that the
Etruscans always wrote, as in very early alphabetic Greek, from right to
left in the Semitic manner.
It may well be that the Mycenean affricate was still heard in some
dialects at the time of borrowing; I guess there was quite a state of flux
in the western Doric dialects at the time. It may well be that the sound
we traditionally transliterate as |z| in Etrucan was some affricate such
as [dz] or, considering that Etruscan had no voiced plosives, [ts].
> A development of stop + sibilant to sibilant + stop is not
> unprecedented: in several Slavic languages for example the presence
> absence of such a metathesis is a distinguishing trait of dialect
> groups. >>
> --Sihler, _New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_, §201
> (The (I) there should be the I-shaped zeta glyph.)
Yep - the 'H on its side' is used in the archaic Greek alphabets for later
"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760