Philemon Zachariou wrote:Mike,
The Athenians in Socrates’ day confused ει, η and ι. The question then arises, If the Athenians already had ι, why did they need another letter for the same sound? The introduction of η (not as h), already widespread among the other dialects as a vowel, was at first intended to be used as a convenient monoliteral symbol for metrically (not phonetically) “long” diphthong ει (ε?). By now, however, ει was already monophthongized and treated like ι, so η became popularly read like ι, while versifiers and specialized readers continued for a time the use of ε rather that η, all the more additing to the confusion expressed in Kratylos (418c): οἱ μὲν ἀρχαιότατοι ἱμέραν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκάλουν, οἱ δὲ ἑμέραν, οἱ δὲ νῦν ἡμέραν “the very ancients called day ἱμέραν, others [later] ἑμέραν, and now ἡμέραν.”
Well, yes and no. That answer the first question, but I don't really see how it relates to why η would be more stable in its spelling and not be confused with the same consistency with ι until so much latter.
Philemon Zachariou wrote:You (Randal) said that Caragounis' book (1) does not show a reliable linguistic handling of the data, (2) that Caragounis recognizes that he is citing isolated instances of examples that only become clear norms a few centuries later, and (3) the book does not overturn the chronological conclusions of other historical phonological studies. I have read the book myself, and now I wonder what exactly it is that you found in the book that supports your three claims. That is, what are the data, and what makes you say that Caragounis' linguistic handling of them is not reliable? Where does he admit (recognizes) that he is citing isolated instances of examples that become the norm a few centuries later? What examples are you referring to that leave the conclusions of other phonological studies intact? What studies are you referring to, and what conclusions do they arrive at (that are apparently different from Caragounis') ?
Since Dr. Buth is away from his copy of the book, I am perfectly happy to provide some examples.
Caragounis passes off statistical issues with brief comments with no explanation of the *why* like this one:
Caragounis, 370-1 wrote:The letter Η interchanges with I already by the Vth c. B.C., that is before its official acceptance in the Athenian alphabet in 403 B.C. ... The frequency of its interchange with I increases dramatically from the IIIrd century B.C. in the Ptolemaic papyri. ... The interchange of H with EI becomes very frequent from around 200 B.C., again leading to the same conclusion.
No explanation of what would cause the dramatic increase in frequency is provided.
In dealing with η, Caragounis also stacks the deck in his favor by providing data for an interchange between η - ι, η - ει, and ηι - ι . The problem is that this skews the anaylsis in one direction from the start. He is seeking to show that η = ι and so he simply doesn't deal with the data where there is interchange between η and ε. Caragounis' anaysis as massive and footnoted as it appears, is not thorough
. He also doesn't deal with the possibilities of misspelling, the difference between vowel quality in stressed and unstressed syllables, the differences in vowel quality in varying syllable structures (e.g. how does vowel quality change in an open syllable vs. an closed syllable and are such differences represented in spelling variation). In contrast, Gignac deals with all of these issues in significant detail and makes judgments on the basis of frequency.
Compare Caragnounis' statement above with that of Gignac below
Gignac, 235 wrote:The process of itacism, which resulted in the eventual identification of the sounds originally represented by ι, ει, η, ηι, οι, υ, υι in /i/, was well advanced in Egypt by the beginning of the Roman period. ει and ι are alternate representations of /i/; η and ηι are identified, οι, υ, and υι all represent /y/. Moreover, there is a very frequent interchange of η with ι and ει, indicating that η also represented /i/ at least in the speech of many writers. On the other hand, there is a frequent interchange of η with ε (and sometimes with its phonetic equivalent αι) throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods, in similar documents and sometimes in identical phonetic conditions and even in the same words in which an interchange of η with ι or ει is found. There is also an occasional interchange of ε (αι) with ι and ει.
Moreover, Gignac notes than many of the places where η appears in place of ει appear directly preceding back vowels (e.g. χρηῶν for χρειῶν or χρήας for χρείας), which would suggest that the assimilation of i --> e _/+back vowels--a perfectly conceivable phonological rule.
So the question is: Why doesn't Caragounis deal with only a limited set of the data that fits with his own assumptions and not with the other data that does not?
Caragounis, The Development of Greek and the New Testament
Gignac, A Grammar of the Greek Papyri of the Roman and Byzantine Periods
(for the record, my own pronunciation is: ι, ει, η, ηι, as /i/ and οι, υ, υι as /y/, which I think is relatively close to that of the late 1st century. My problem isn't with the pronouncing of η as /i/, but with exactly when that change occurred)