Gignac, and Egyptian Greek phonemics

Fritz Knobloch states that he has "not made much use of Gignac's book",
which is about the same thing I said--he for one set of reasons, I for
another set.  He adds that he has found Gignac's articles to be helpful;
so have I.  But the book was what was recommended (and I had omitted).
Phonemics was the subject, not grammar.  For grammar, Gignac is wonderfully
valuable.  In my quarter-century in Berkeley, when I was working on my
T-G Grammar of Hellenistic Greek, Gignac was more important to me than
Mayser (and Teodorsson not yet in existence).  After moving to Harvard
and now Wellesley alone, my time for grammar is almost non-existent,
and phonemics only slightly better.

I still have a problem of method for the so-called filtering out of Egyptian
phonemics.  Some instances of this are fairly obvious; but to label any
pronunciation not in Attic and not in modern pronunciation moves too
easily.  Modern Greek is not the descendant of all non-Egyptian forms
of Hellenistic Greek; it descends from a geographically more limited
area, and may tell us nothing about Greek spoken in (say) Cilicia,
or even (old) Rome.  Even the vastly more limited (geographically)
case of Old English(es), Middle English(es) and modern English(es)
tell a story of pronunciations spreading, holding sway in several areas, and
then disappearing.

The Attic side is also not altogether without risk.  Hellenistic Greek
generally owes moreo Attic grammar than to other dialects, but in
pronunciation, including significant factors involving spelling
(cf. -att-, -ass-), was more indebted to other dialects.

My own belief is that we know much less about Hellenistic pronunciation
over the Greek-using world than is often implied, as Pomp Colwell,
my teacher in textual criticism, used to emphasize.  Only in recent
decades have we begun to learn much about how Shakespeare's company
pronounced his English!  (Sorry about the informality above: it was
Ernest Cadman Colwell, who let us call him "Pomp" when we got our

--Edward Hobbs