The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

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Benjamin Kantor
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The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by Benjamin Kantor » February 8th, 2019, 7:56 am

I recently did a blog post (video in Koine Greek, written out in English) about the pronunciation of β δ γ following nasals in Koine Greek:

https://www.kainediatheke.com/blog/koin ... oine-greek

I'd appreciate any feedback!

More practically, I'd like to hear if you all think it would be worthwhile pedagogically adopting such a pronunciation, or to keep our pronunciation of the consonants more like Modern Greek in this respect.
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MAubrey
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by MAubrey » February 8th, 2019, 3:26 pm

Well, I like the Trajan data. That's lovely.

As for the practical question, I don't know. In theory yes, but the topic is so fraught that it generally feels like a lost cause to even try.

Randall has been working at it for decades and there hasn't been much change.
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by Benjamin Kantor » February 8th, 2019, 5:01 pm

MAubrey wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 3:26 pm
Well, I like the Trajan data. That's lovely.

As for the practical question, I don't know. In theory yes, but the topic is so fraught that it generally feels like a lost cause to even try.

Randall has been working at it for decades and there hasn't been much change.
Yeah, the Trajan thing is pretty neat.

Yes, Randall has done really good work on this, especially its integration into pedagogy. I think he had a good deal of foresight in keeping in mind the ability for it to transfer over to modern Greek, even if it means adopting a consonant system that is more late roman/early Byzantine than 1st century; but I agree with his choice there.

With regard to how “fraught” this endeavor is...I don’t think it needs to be as complicated as it may sound. The consonants, no doubt, are much more difficult than the vowels, but we can still glean what we can from what’s there. In light of the Egyptian data, even a small amount of evidence is likely to confirm the same developments in Palestine (but with caution due to different languages in contact).


Also two big game changers in the past few years:


1) Publication of electronic concordance of Greek Judaean Desert texts
2) Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae Palaestinae - Collection of all inscriptions in Israel from hellenism to Islam. I was one of the minyons that helped with the Caesarea volume :)

CIIP is still being published (8 volumes in total, 6 are published), I’ve gone theough the first four for spelling interchanges.

Between all of that evidence, I’ve been fond to express where we stand this way ...


We have more evidence for how Greek was pronounced than we do about some historical events from the same period.
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by MAubrey » February 8th, 2019, 8:48 pm

I don't think its fraught in any sense of technical difficulty. For the most part, I think the phonology of the period is extremely well established, though of course, there is so much that can and needs to be done a dialectology for not only Palestine, but also Asia Minor.

I think the real challenge is that simply too many people don't care and also don't understand why they should care. 99% of introductory Greek classes are taught by theologians and historians, not linguists or philologists. And those people just aren't interested.

But for what its worth, I've been on board for this for nearly a decade now. I switched my pronunciation to a historical one back in 09'. Historical phonology is a monumental task, it's just unfortunate that convincing professors and adjuncts is an equally monumental one.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 8th, 2019, 10:09 pm

MAubrey wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 8:48 pm
But for what its worth, I've been on board for this for nearly a decade now. I switched my pronunciation to a historical one back in 09'. Historical phonology is a monumental task, it's just unfortunate that convincing professors and adjuncts is an equally monumental one.
I like the historical pronunciation too, but I see little hope that the guild will change for several reasons.

1. There's no training in pedagogy for their Greek teachers. Some schools just have their grad students do the teaching.

2. Classicists won't adopt the Koine pronunciation. Many of those doing Koine studies started with classical Greek.

3. Too many now want an "exegetical payoff," and pronunciation is hardly going to provide that until they start reading manuscripts. (Even then, knowing that ει = ι and αι = ε is going to get you about 80% there.)

4. I've been to SBL and even the Erasmian "standard" isn't standard. The competence is quite low. There are even folks who pronounce all the vowels as if it were German. Oral communication of Greek in NT studies isn't reliable and isn't relied on.
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Benjamin Kantor
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by Benjamin Kantor » February 9th, 2019, 1:00 am

MAubrey wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 8:48 pm
I don't think its fraught in any sense of technical difficulty. For the most part, I think the phonology of the period is extremely well established, though of course, there is so much that can and needs to be done a dialectology for not only Palestine, but also Asia Minor.
Ah, I see what you mean. I'm with you there. For what it's worth, I am just now beginning to develop a database (with some help from a friend who was been working in coding since they were 13) to conduct a comprehensive analysis of every Greek inscription from Hellenistic/Roman/Byzantine Palestine and the Judaean Desert material as well. Not only will I document all spelling interchanges, but literally every word so that we will have statistics on proportion: e.g., "in this city/region, in this century, out 300 times were etymological stressed long ῑ occurs, X are represented by ι, Y are represented by ει, Z are represented by η, etc." It is a big project but I am hopeful about getting it done within the next few years. I have already done a lot of the work of going through data, I just need to be thorough about going back and documenting it in the database so we can get really good numbers on all of these things.

I will leave Asia Minor for someone else perhaps :) Though who knows ...
MAubrey wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 8:48 pm
I think the real challenge is that simply too many people don't care and also don't understand why they should care. 99% of introductory Greek classes are taught by theologians and historians, not linguists or philologists. And those people just aren't interested.
Yeah, unfortunately that does seem to be the case in many instances. However, I feel like the interest in pronunciation and communicative teaching/learning is definitely growing in the last ten years or so. That is encouraging. So even if it is quite small relatively now, the direction suggests that eventually it won't be so small anymore. I've heard recently of two more colleges/universities who are adopting communicative Greek teaching over the next year.
MAubrey wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 8:48 pm
But for what its worth, I've been on board for this for nearly a decade now. I switched my pronunciation to a historical one back in 09'. Historical phonology is a monumental task, it's just unfortunate that convincing professors and adjuncts is an equally monumental one.
Agreed :)
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Re: The pronunciation of the Classical Greek stops β δ γ in Koine Greek AFTER NASALS

Post by Benjamin Kantor » February 9th, 2019, 1:16 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 10:09 pm

I like the historical pronunciation too, but I see little hope that the guild will change for several reasons.

1. There's no training in pedagogy for their Greek teachers. Some schools just have their grad students do the teaching.

2. Classicists won't adopt the Koine pronunciation. Many of those doing Koine studies started with classical Greek.
I don't think that Koine pronunciation is necessarily the crux of the issue. I think communicative teaching and fluency is. So if classicists want to read and speak in a restored Attic that's fine with me, but those of us who mainly study Koine should do so in Koine pronunciation. And there have always been groups of classicists who attempt to communicate in ancient Greek. I myself started in classics and eventually changed to the Koine pronunciation while I was still doing my degree in classics.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 10:09 pm
3. Too many now want an "exegetical payoff," and pronunciation is hardly going to provide that until they start reading manuscripts. (Even then, knowing that ει = ι and αι = ε is going to get you about 80% there.)
That's a fair point. I would also mention, though, there are actually a number of forms that become identically pronounced in Koine (e.g., future and aorist subj. in some parts of paradigm) but are distinct in traditional pronunciation, and the reverse as well, forms that are identical in the traditional pronunciation but distinct in Koine. All these things affect the way you think about the verbal system, for example, and the way you understand how authors are using the verbal system.

The difference, and many instances lack thereof, of things like:

τί ποιήσωμεν vs. τί ποιήσομεν

help illustrate that point.

It also makes reading papyri much more fluid, as you mention.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
February 8th, 2019, 10:09 pm
4. I've been to SBL and even the Erasmian "standard" isn't standard. The competence is quite low. There are even folks who pronounce all the vowels as if it were German. Oral communication of Greek in NT studies isn't reliable and isn't relied on.
Indeed. I am not really sure what to call a pronunciation of Greek where there seem to be no constraints on stress. I don't know why, but for some reason, it is like the traditional pronunciations (or Erasmian, not sure what to call it) have nothing to do with stress. I'm not sure why, but stress seems to be ignored by teachers and students alike when pronouncing Greek.


Long story short, I think they key is fluency, and fluency has to be tied to a real pronunciation. As I mentioned in a previous post, though, I think the direction is up for those speaking Koine and I expect it to continue, hopefully :)
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