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Pronunciation of γαμμα (Buth-Koine)

Posted: August 4th, 2011, 6:41 pm
by Charlie Johnson
I've been pronouncing γαμμα as a "g" uniformly, but recently I've come across the notion that in the Koine period, it at certain times carried an English consonantal "y" sound. According to the reconstructed Koine system, when do I pronounce as "g" and when as "y"?

Re: Pronunciation of γαμμα (Buth-Koine)

Posted: August 5th, 2011, 8:06 am
by Louis L Sorenson
Randall Buth's freely available pdf on pronunciation speaks to this. You can find the pdf at ... n_2008.pdf

The ancient voiced stops β, δ, γ appear to have become fricatives first [IPA β, δ, γ], before the
ancient stops φ, θ, χ. Already at the beginning of the Roman period βῆτα was becoming a 'soft'
bilabial fricative, probably like Spanish sound of 'b' in Havana/Habana (the city). γάμμα became
a velar fricative, and even a palatal fricative in conjunction with front vowels. During the Roman
period δέλτα eventually became fricativized everywhere (like the English sound in 'this')18.
[p 223]

Likewise, notice the examples of γάμμα reflecting a fricative abound, in some cases approaching
a palatal [y] sound.20 The insertions and the substitutions with ι would not be probable without
γάμμα having become a soft fricative.

ιγερου for ἱεροῦ ‘of a temple, of holy’ (from 5 BCE)
υγιου for υἱοῦ ‘of a son’ (from 16 CE)
εριευς for Ἑργεύς (frequent in 1c CE)

It appears that the ancient voiced stops β, γ had already gone soft by the first century and
should be pronounced like International Phonetic Alphabet [β, γ].
The difference you are seeing are the pairs
γε γει γη γι γυ γοι [γ] or [γι] (IPA?) before mid/high front vowels
γα γο γω γου [g] or [γ] before low back vowels

I cannot find a reference in Buth's materials that speaks directly to this - but I think I've read it somewhere.