Re: RE- Accents

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 20 1995 - 11:43:21 EDT

At 5:55 AM 9/20/95, Karen Pitts wrote:
>RE: Accents 9/20/95 10:43 AM
> This
>means that we do lots of things to reinforce Greek. Speaking (how do you
>speak if you don't pay attention to accents? - but only using stresses, I
>wouldn't know how to do pitches), writing on white boards, translating English
>to Greek, coming up with silly pneumonics to remember vocab and paradigms.
>For this approach, we need to know accents.

Now here I am 100% in agreement: students need to pronounce the words and
they need to read aloud and get the aural and vocal reinforcement of the
printed and visually apprehended words. And for this you need, quite
practically, a way to accent the words that is uniform whether it bears any
real relationship to the way ancient speakers of the language at any one
time and place pronounced it (and I am skeptical about being very precise
on the actual pronunciation at any one time and place in antiquity of
Greek). I don't even think which convention one uses is that important. I
use the traditional Erasmian pronunciation, not because I think it is
right, but because it is the one most likely to be understood by others who
have been taught Greek elsewhere (at least, elsewhere in the U.S., although
I know other pronunciations are practiced elsewhere).

But here's a challenge to accentual pronunciation: how do you pronounce a
word with a circumflex on the penult and an acute on the ultima and
followed by a string of enclitics, such as, for example:


This only makes sense if you pronounce the omega of ANQRWPON with a rising,
then falling pitch on the omega and then with a rising pitch for each
successive acute. I'm assuming the theory that an acute represents a
musical 1/5 above the tone of the unaccented syllables (and a grave a
musical 1/3 above them, the circumflex a rising and falling 1/5 = 1/3).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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