Re: accents - Orthographic Reformation

From: Isidoros (
Date: Wed Feb 12 1997 - 22:58:11 EST

Stephen Carlson, filoi,

a couple of quick points, and primarily on the Smyth excerpt..

>The following is from Smyth, section 161 (p. 38):
>"The invention of th marks of accent is attributed to Aristophanes
>of Byzantium, librarian of Alexandria about 200 B.C.

>The use of signs
>served to fix the correct accentuation, which was becoming uncertain
>in the third century B.C.;

Accentuation was not becoming uncertain, in itself; it was rather the
increase of currency of Hellenism that "spread" the language natural
speakers (as "natural teachers") thin, in an increasingly Hellenizing
populae, to the extend that, in the increased want to learn it, it was
the correspondingly diminishing availability of natural speakers-teachers
that increased the sense of uncertainty among the non-Hellenic speaking
peoples-- thus was created the demand for an ever greater number of
markings, including lettering, which in places exceeded thirty.

>(The use of signs...) marked the variation of dialect usage;

Hmm, and not so much that, as the accenting (and "breathing")
variation within the language itself, and correspondinly within
each language-dialect grouping. The main goal, that is, for this,
was not to render possible recognition and communication by
other dialect members, as communication among the members
of the same one language/dialect.

>and rendered the acquisition of Greek for foreigners.

About right--as that was the intend, to ease the access.

>The signs for
>accents (and the breathings) were not regularly employed in Mss.
>till after 600 A.D."

Correct, and it must be said, for our possibly considered orthographic
reformation purposes here that, the Hellen Greeks, the original natural
speakers,who weren't in need of any markings, while in the beginning
were rather indifferent, later on generally resisted the imposition of
the many accents and the aspirants, considering them unnecessary,
exceessive and inefficiently counter-productive. The three accents and
the three spirits were imposed in effect by a fanatical insistence on
their, almost devine origin and importance, by Church grammarians, who
increasingly exercised educational influence through the Christianized
Byzantine emperor and the politicized Patriarchate in Constantinopolis.

Eventually zealousy became hard-line and authoritarian canon. And the
Biblos, originally written without accents and aspirants, was canonised
too to be informed by impressive, but weighty, complicated marks.
One might had been enough, yet the imposing effect went beyond
Constantinople, Alexandria, Antiochia, to the whole of the Hellenized
world, Rome, Nice, Lyon, Cyrene, on to Alexandria ESchate, and so
that over the centuries the effect was that the foreigners, most all
eventually Christianized-- and not because of, but inspite of the excess
markings--pretty gave much gave up on learning the language, as was
too cumbersome (not the only cause for that, and perhaps not even the
more important, though an important one) while even the indiginous
Hellenes were made to write (and even at some point speak it) as if
learning foreigners. And if did not do so, were singled out as
resisting nationalists, and punished, in many various ways, for it.
End to this process, and as CWC mentioned as a markings reformation
of the Greek language in modern times, did not come in Greece until...
1976. Yet, the Church and, world-wide, the want of being linguistically
Hellenized reverent iereis and the enduring scholars suffer still
from that zealousy. As does the only true Christian Logos.

>If there was quite a bit variation in the accent among the Greek
>dialects, then that variation would have placed considerable
>pressure on the Koine to level the accents.

Not necessarily, Stephen, if by "accents" you mean the accentuation
marks. Take, for example, our... list. One here is the (Greek !!) dialect,
and yet do not you feel already the mounting anticipation and the
counter-reformational pressure?!

Carl Conrad appropriately used the terms "orthographic reformation"
when commenting in the positive yesterday (I appreciate it) on my
proposal that all the aspirants be made away in the teaching, and
the reading, of Biblos, and that the three accents be appropriately
replaced by only one, accent, stress, TONOS -- and that be done
accorgingly on to the text, and printing--not only in order to
ameliorate the learning, and teaching *kopos* and save thousands,
potentially millions of hours of waisted (the least) intellectually
hindering, and *mal8akizein* the mind *ponos*, making EASIER
for the many, but, importantly, in order to restore the Holly Book
to its proper and rightful *topos* and read it as originally, or
nearly so, intended-- with all the possibly meaningful contextually
semantic, exegetical benefits that might eventual surface,
as Cindy Westfall pondered on.

The Ionic Centre, Athens

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