Re: Greek Pronunciation

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Tue Oct 19 1999 - 12:57:58 EDT

<x-flowed>To: Joe A. Friberg, et al.,

<< [comments from Randall Buth:] but emically, the same pronunciation
should be used for both /oi/ and /u/, and that pronunciation for 'oi'
should be distinguished from /i,ei/, as well as from /ou/. >>

JAF: << While it may be historically inaccurate, I have attempted to
maintain a distinction between each graphemically distinct vowel and
dipthong. I find this helpful for learning/remembering spellings. I would
suggest the heuristic value outweighs historical considerations, esp. for
the beginner. >>

Where did you learn this?

My own personal variations on pronunciation include the following.
According to Smyth, the long and short of the alpha, iota, and upsilon are
supposed to be pronounced differently. But most Greek texts do not
distinguish between the long and short of these vowels. I pronounce the
long and short of the alpha and upsilon the same. And I arbitrarily
pronounce some iotas long, and some short, whichever sounds best to me.
Smyth says the short upsilon should be pronounced like the French "tu" and
the long like the French "sur." I don't speak French, so my upsilon sound a
lot like my pronunciation of the diphthong OU (which I guess I probably
also pronounce wrong). The short of it is this. Although I've tried to
learn a different pronunciation for each vowel and diphthong, my U & OU
sound the same, and my H & EI sound the same. I don't consider this a great
drawback, after all, no one in my neighborhood knows ancient Greek! <g>

FWIW ... anyone interested in reading a history of the Greek language
might want to take a look at: "Greek: A History of the Language and its
Speakers" by Geoffrey Horrocks (Addison Wesley Longman, 1997).

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)

 From Luther's Large Catechism: "Why, do you think, is the world now so
full of unfaithfulness, shame, misery, and murder? It is because everyone
wishes to be his or her own master, be free from all authority, care
nothing for anyone, and do whatever he or she pleases. So God punishes one
knave by means of another" (BoC 386.154).

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