Re: Pronunciation, was Re: Did Paul Speak Greek with a Turkish Accent?

Date: Sun Mar 21 1999 - 23:02:04 EST

Jay Adkins wrote:

> Dear John Burnett, M.A,
> Thank you very much for expressing a point of view I had not considered on
> pronunciation of the GNT. Since you feel the erasmian pronunciation is
> incorrect, can you please supply a corrected key for us Īlittle Greeks.'
> Again Thank You for your help.
> Jay Adkins
> ---

Same as modern:

A = father

B = v (the name of this letter is "veeta"-- note that Greek is pronounced sort of
softly -- no hard b, g, d -- these are voiced affricatives, except g is hardly
voiced at all); not as in "ball"

G = Ghamma. This is sorta hard to describe. Hardly voiced. Before an i or an e it
can be softened to a soft gh or even as far as a y ("gia-gia", grandmother, is
pronounced "yia-yia"); sometimes it's more or less like a hard g (in "Georgios",
"George", the first g is like in "god" and the second is a gh sound; but the
diminutive, "Giorgos" is pronounced Yorgos and GERONTA is "yeronta", elder).

D = Dhelta: dh or th as in "the" or "that"; NOT as in "thin" and NOT as in "dog".

E = as in "met" (i.e., "me" is pronounced like "met" without the t; NOT like "may")

Z = dz (ZWH, "dzoee"; don't emphasize the d unless it feels natural: ZHLOU =
"zeelou"; MH ZHLOU = "mee dzeelou")

H = ee (MH = "mee")

Q = Theeta: th as in thin
I = ee (it's generally shorter than H for example: MH GINOU = mee ghinou)
K = k
L = l
M = m
N = n
X = x

O = obey (as opposed to moan) -- LOGOS sounds exactly as you'd expect, or as in
"logo" (= trademark).

P = p
R = r
S = s
T = t

U = ee; ISCUROS = "ees-kheeros" (but soften the kh to almost an h when you say
this); but sometimes shorter, as in "pin" (hUMNHSW, "I will hymn" = "himneeso").

F = f

C = kh, sometimes softer, almost an h; they tend to transliterate it with an h
(PARASCOU = "paras-hou")

Y = ps

W = moan (as opp. to obey); don't fret too much over the difference between o-micron
and o-mega; in practice there's little difference

There is NO hard breathing, ever (except in another context altogether!); hUMEIS is
pronounced "eemees"; hUPER is "ee-pair".

ai = almost as epsilon; i.e., "met", though a little more toward the front, though
not quite so long as in "may"; KAI is usually transliterated "ke"

ei = ee (ANALUEIN = "ana-lee-een")
hi = ee
oi = ee (!) (MOI, "to me", is "mee"; OIMOI, "woe!", is "eemee"; GENOITO is
ui = ee (hUIOS is "ee-os")

au = af before unvoiced consonants (hAUTOS = "aftos"); av before voiced or vowels
(AURION = avrion)

eu = ef before unvoiced consonants (EUCARISTIA, "efharistia", eucharist) (the sound
'ef-' is hard to say before the letter xi, but they do it!-- PROSEUXETAI,
"prosefxetai") ; ev before voiced or vowels ("perisevon" for PERISEUWN, exceeding;
EUMORFOU, "evmorfou", well-formed; EU is "ev" by itself)

ou = moon

I think that covers them all. Hope it's helpful.

If you're anywhere near a Greek church, just go some Sunday and ask the guy selling
candles in the back of the church (there's always a guy selling candles in the back
of the church) if there's a book you can follow (there almost always is, in the
pews), and then just ask someone standing near you if they can help you follow
along. And just read along and listen. You'll learn more in one service there than
you'll pick up in a week of emails. Don't be alarmed, though-- if you aren't from a
liturgical church, it will all seem pretty foreign and questionable to you!


John Burnett, m.a.

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