pronunciation difference between η and ει

Is vocalizing the Greek words and sentences important? If so, how should Greek be pronounced (what arguments can be made for one pronunciation over another or others?) How can I write Greek characters clearly and legibly?
wqhhust
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pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by wqhhust » November 21st, 2020, 2:15 am

I am learning Greek from book downloaded from https://www.biblicalgreekbeginningtheadventure.com/

I found both of η and ει share the same pronunciation, is that right?

η :ey in they
ει:ei
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S Walch
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by S Walch » November 21st, 2020, 10:43 am

That depends on who you ask (and on the century), but more or less, yes, both η and ει (and ι as well) started to have the same pronunciation, and still do in modern Greek.

Can get a good overview of this at https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/ ... unciation/
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ed krentz
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by ed krentz » November 22nd, 2020, 10:34 am

The modern Greek,pronunciation is called iotacism. Ai, Ei, oi, I, ETA, are all pronounced the same. It makes learning correct spelling difficult for beginners in the Greek language.

That is why in teaching beginning Greek I did not use this modern Greek pronunciation, though I taught students about iotacism later.
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Edgar Krentz
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Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Mark Jeong
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Mark Jeong » November 22nd, 2020, 2:20 pm

η never had the sound of "ey" as in "they." It would be more correct to say it once had the sound of the "e" in "they." It's not a diphthong, whereas ey is. A lot of people, both those who use the Buthian pronunciation and Erasmian, pronounce it like "ey," but that's not correct. If you use the IPA chart, the sound would be represented by "e" (a close-mid vowel) in contrast to epsilon represented by ε (an open-mid vowel). You can hear the sounds here: https://www.ipachart.com

The difference is very subtle, and even native speakers of languages like French and Korean that have the distinction can rarely hear it in normal speech.
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Jason Hare
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Jason Hare » November 23rd, 2020, 9:33 am

ed krentz wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 10:34 am
The modern Greek,pronunciation is called iotacism. Ai, Ei, oi, I, ETA, are all pronounced the same. It makes learning correct spelling difficult for beginners in the Greek language.

That is why in teaching beginning Greek I did not use this modern Greek pronunciation, though I taught students about iotacism later.
Not αι. This diphthong sounds like epsilon in the modern and Koiné pronunciation. [αι, ε] = [ε]. In this case, words like λύεσθαι [pres mid/pas inf] and λύεσθε [pres mid/pas ind 2p] sounded identical.

In modern pronunciation, [ει, ι, η, υι, οι, υ] = [​i]! There had to have been a distinction between [η] and [υ] in the Koiné, else there would be no way to distinguish between ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς, which is a basic distinction that had to have been made. We can be sure that [οι] = [υ] and relatively sure that they sounded like [ü] in French and German.

There were a lot more homophones in the Koiné period than what we normally teach in American schools, in which Erasmian (or some form of it) has originally been taught. With the modern pronunciation, there would be even more homophones, some of which would lead to serious misunderstanding when applied to the Koiné.
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Jason A. Hare
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 23rd, 2020, 12:05 pm

Jason Hare wrote:
November 23rd, 2020, 9:33 am
ed krentz wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 10:34 am
The modern Greek,pronunciation is called iotacism. Ai, Ei, oi, I, ETA, are all pronounced the same. It makes learning correct spelling difficult for beginners in the Greek language.

That is why in teaching beginning Greek I did not use this modern Greek pronunciation, though I taught students about iotacism later.
Not αι. This diphthong sounds like epsilon in the modern and Koiné pronunciation. [αι, ε] = [ε]. In this case, words like λύεσθαι [pres mid/pas inf] and λύεσθε [pres mid/pas ind 2p] sounded identical.

In modern pronunciation, [ει, ι, η, υι, οι, υ] = [​i]! There had to have been a distinction between [η] and [υ] in the Koiné, else there would be no way to distinguish between ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς, which is a basic distinction that had to have been made. We can be sure that [οι] = [υ] and relatively sure that they sounded like [ü] in French and German.

There were a lot more homophones in the Koiné period than what we normally teach in American schools, in which Erasmian (or some form of it) has originally been taught. With the modern pronunciation, there would be even more homophones, some of which would lead to serious misunderstanding when applied to the Koiné.
Confusion between ἠμεῖς and ὐμεῖς is pretty common in the manuscripts.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Jason Hare
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Jason Hare » November 23rd, 2020, 3:53 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
November 23rd, 2020, 12:05 pm
Confusion between ἠμεῖς and ὐμεῖς is pretty common in the manuscripts.
Because the manuscripts were from a different period, no? Do we see such confusion in the earlier manuscripts?
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Jason A. Hare
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 23rd, 2020, 3:54 pm

Jason Hare wrote:
November 23rd, 2020, 3:53 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
November 23rd, 2020, 12:05 pm
Confusion between ἠμεῖς and ὐμεῖς is pretty common in the manuscripts.
Because the manuscripts were from a different period, no? Do we see such confusion in the earlier manuscripts?
As I recall, we do see some, since the earliest manuscripts still date from the period where itacism is well on its way.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

S Walch
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by S Walch » November 23rd, 2020, 8:03 pm

The main resource for these sort of questions is still F. T. Gignac's A Grammar of the Greek Papyri of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (released 1976).

On η for υ and vice-versa, he states (Vol. 1 p. 262):
Gignac wrote:a. υ x η·
This interchange occurs frequently in all phonetic conditions throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods.
He then gives a list of many papyri using ἡμῶν for ὑμῶν starting from 48 CE through to 611 CE, and pretty much all the other sort of combinations you could think of for other confusions of υ x η or η x υ (even in words like δύο > δήο = OTaitPetr. 295.4,6,9, which is dated around 6-50 CE).

Evidently from the 1st century on-wards, both these letters were starting to be pronounced similarly (at least in Egypt), and which gradually got more and more intertwined as the centuries went on.

Gignac's entire discussion on this is in Volume 1, pages 262-265.
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Jason Hare
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Re: pronunciation difference between η and ει

Post by Jason Hare » November 23rd, 2020, 11:07 pm

Well, that's all good information. Seem bad for communication, though. Can you imagine speaking a language in which you cannot distinguish orally/aurally between "you" and "we"?

"I pray that God gives us [ἡμῖν] reprieve from our [ἡμῶν] troubles." > Which someone takes a nice blessing from you, as he hears it as if you had said, "I pray that God gives you [ὑμῖν] reprieve from your [ὑμῶν] troubles." What foolishness this could lead to!
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Jason A. Hare
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