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YI (was: Rare Phonetics)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 26, 2001, 17:06
At 2:21 pm -0500 25/6/01, Danny Wier wrote:
>From: "Christophe Grandsire" <christophe.grandsire@...> > >| En réponse à Danny Wier <dawier@...>: > >| > French: nasal front mid-low rounded vowel [oe~] >| >| And don't forget the dreaded /H/ (inverted lowercase h, the non-vocalic >| equivalent of /y/) which exists in only a handful of languages all over the >| world. > >That is also found in Abkhaz, and it was in Classical Greek (_huios_ >"son", for >example).
On what evidence? As all other diphthongs were falling diphthongs in ancient Greek, I would have thought [yj] is much more likely. Inscriptions show that from the the 6th cent. BC onwards the diphthong tends to monophthongize to written plain upsilon; this surely makes more sense if it was [yj] >> [y:], rather than [Hi] >> [y:]? In the Attic dialect the diphthong is found only before vowels, and Sidney Allen in his "Vox Graeca" recommends the pronunciatuon [yjj]. Indeed, in a footnote he specifically argues against prnouncing it as a rising diphthong. One must remember that Greek upsilon was certainly [u] (short) or [u:] (long) in the earliest Greek, and retained that pronunciation in the Doric dialects; 'twas the Hellenic Koine that made the Attic-Ionic [y]/ [y:] universal elsewhere. Therefore, the earliest pronunciation of this diphthong is, surely, likely to have been [uj]. Michel Lejeune in his "Phonétique historique du mycénien et du grec ancien" specifically warns against pronouncing the diphthong according the conventional French way of _oui_ /wi/ [sic] or reading it with the sound of _ui_ in _huis_ /Hi/; according to him, its earliest sound was like French _houille_, i.e. /uj/. He sees the development as [uj] >> [yj] >> [y:], with [yj] being unstable and tending to monophthongize; I see no reason to doubt him. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================