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The Erasmean system of pronouncing Greek (was Re: Multi-lingos)

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Sunday, August 27, 2000, 20:15
Mangiat wrote:

> > callanish wrote: > > > > > > Actually, philosophy of religion was quite, quite interesting. We > > > > had a Greek who laughed at us trying to pronounce the Greek > > > > gods' names, and.... > > > > > > OK, I'll grant that although the phonology of modern Greek has changed > quite > > > significantly from that of Ancient Greek, it's still probably closer > (and > > > more "authentic") than our method of pronouncing Ancient Greek as if it > were > > > English! > > > > Well, most schools don't use the old pronunciation that acts as if > > Greek went through the Great Vowel Shift (where <nous> = /n&us/). > > Most today use either the Erasmean system or the newly reconstructed > > one with a distinction between aspirated and unaspirated stops. > > In Italy we are taught that the Erasmean system is, AFAWK, the closest to > the old pronounciation.
No, AFAIK the Erasmean system was based to a large extent on contemporary Greek pronunciation with a lot of good guesswork. Its salient features are: (a) use of [f], [T], and [x] for the 'aspirated' letters phi, theta and chi. The pronunciation scheme that is univerally recognized among non-crackpot linguists says these letters were originally actual aspirates, that is, they actually had a longer period before the voice-onset of the following vowel than nonaspirates. (b) [u] for the omicron-upsilon digraph, where the original probably was, at one point at least, a true diphthong of [o] and [u] or some variation on that theme. (c) IIRC, use of [z] for zeta when the original was either [zd] or [dz] depending on who you ask; pace Ray, I prefer to believe in most cases, as with <Zeus>, it was the latter, for typological and comparative reasons. Considering the resources available to Erasmus, however, it was quite an achievement in early philological studies.
> I can't figure out how (Modern) Greeks can say their > pronounciation is the same as in Homer's times. H, Y, OI, EI, HI are all > pronounced the same: if this was true even 2k yrs ago, why not using an > unique grapheme?
That is certainly one of the most obvious and straightforward complaints about the Greek nationalists' claims. The sad fact is, though, that science, like religion, has often been manipulated for political ends, and will continue to do so as long as people see they will benefit personally somehow by it. ====================================== Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ======================================