Re: Teaching Beginning Greek Pronounciation

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Feb 22 1997 - 12:45:34 EST

At 11:02 AM -0600 2/22/97, Sam Johnson wrote:
>I am seeking advice on teaching beginning greek. I have truly enjoyed
>the discussion from previous posts but my question is on pronounciation
>for beginners. I have learned the Erasmus system but Spiros Zodhiates
>convinced me to learn modern greek pronounciation. That is all I use but
>I do know the Erasmus system.
> I have two eager men at church who will be going into the ministry and
>are preparing to go to Seminary in a few years. I am really leaning
>toward teaching them modern greek because I see some definite advantages
>and I would introduce them of course to erasmus pronounciation but my
>emphasis would be modern greek. Does anyone see any real harm in doing
> This is not a discussion about modern greek vs koine pronounciation
>but about getting two men started in Greek. I have already decided on
>the grammer book but I would like to hear from anyone who has an opinion
>about this. I have put together a very simple chart on modern greek
>pronounciation that would replace the grammer's phonetic pages.

It would appear that you've already made up your mind and want support for
the decision you've made. While I'm not pushing for the Erasmian
pronunciation, I don't quite see what the "definite advantages" of the
modern Greek pronunciation might be. I do think that one needs to learn to
read aloud continuous sequences of the text and hear the sounds. The one
thing I find disturbing about using modern Greek pronunciation is the fact
that so many of the vowels and diphthongs that are spelled differently
(e.g. H, U, OI, I, EI and another set E, AI) that the student fails to have
the advantage of a pronunciation that reinformces the written forms of
words he/she is learning. What are the advantages that outweigh this if you
use the modern pronunciation? It has always seemed to me that the
fundamental reason for pronouncing a dead language is to gain the aural
reinforcement for the written words.

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

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