Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: OT: "Yugoslavia" in Greek

From:Haggen Kennedy <haggenkennedy@...>
Date:Saturday, November 10, 2007, 3:11
	Hi. :)

MorphemeAddict@WMCONNECT.COM wrote:
> Can anyone here tell me why the Greek name for Yugoslavia (Giougkoslavía) > starts with a gamma?
Basically because, in Modern Greek, diphthongs starting with "y" and "w" are heard by the native Greek speaker as a soft palatalization, which they relate to their Greek gamma. The English sound in "y" (compare "ear" and "year"), to the Greek ear (no pun intended), is a gamma. Let me tell you a funny story. The first time I went to Greece, which was the first time I actually started learning Modern Greek, I was baffled by the letter gamma. I remember I was hanging out with a bunch of friends in Glyfada, a suburban area in Athens, and at some point I'm asking them to teach me how to pronounce that strange sound I had never heard before (this happened almost a decade ago). Then, seeing me bewildered by it, one of them says to me: "it's so easy. It's like the English 'gee' (the letter G) in the word 'welcome' ". That really threw me off. Now, just what did he mean by that? There's no "G" in "welcome". What should I do with that piece of information?, I was asking myself silently, but ultimately I said, out loud, that he was nuts. There was no G in "welcome" - he was pronouncing "welcome" very slowly for me to hear. That's when all the Greeks around me laughed hard and said, "oh, well, to Greeks there is!". At the time I thought it was inexplicable, but later I understood that diphthongs like those, starting with "y" and "w" are heard by Greeks as a gamma. The phoneme is similar, of course. More or less what happens with B and V, or interdental sounds that are pronounced as /f/ or /v/ by native speakers who lack the sound in their language (as when the French say "sink" meaning "think", for example). That's where you see how words like "iatros" (doctor) in Ancient Greek became "giatros" in Modern Greek. Examples abound. Peace, Ken :)


Carlos Perez <carlos96397-ling@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>