Re: Greek Pronunciation

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 09 1998 - 10:47:54 EDT

At 9:27 AM -0500 9/9/98, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 09:12 AM 9/9/98 +0100, Edgar Krentz wrote:
>>Recently Chrys Caragouinis send me a copy of his articler "The Error of
>>Earsmus and un-Greek Pronunciations of Greek,"Filologia Neotestamentaria 8
>>(1995) 151-185.
>"The Error of Earsmus", eh? What a wonderful title!
>>I am curious. Has anyone else read his paper and written an evaluation of
>>it? He concludes that the modern Greek pronunciation is the same as that of
>>ancient Greek, going back to the fifth century BC. He deals with Allen's
>>VOX GRAECA in passing on p. 183.
>The *same*? As in, no change at all in Greek pronunciation since the fifth
>century BC? No, I haven't read his paper, and I'm very interested in what
>you have to say about it when you've worked through it.
>But given what we know about Grimm's Laws and phonological change in
>languages like English and German, why should the pronunciation of Greek
>stand still from the fifth century BC onward?

Well, I'd like to see the article, certainly. But with Jonathan, I find it
difficult to believe that the modern Greek pronunciation goes back to the
5th century B.C., although I think it might very well go back to the 1st
century A.D., at which time the papyri show barely literate spellers
spelling the vowel sounds like those of modern Greek. What's far more
difficult to believe is that the Athenian spelling reform of 403/2 would
have retained seven distinct vowels if that repertory had already been
reduced significantly by itacism.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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