Re: ei=i, (was Accent)

From: yochanan bitan (
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 05:59:28 EST

<x-charset ISO-8859-1>Gartig egrayen:
> It seems to me . . . that is the
>biggest decision: whether to make scholarly attempt at reproducing ancient
speech or
>use the current-day pronunciation of the people for whom Greek is a living
> The benefit of the Traditional (Modern Greek) pronunciation, I
imagine, based on
>my experience with Modern Hebrew, is that one is better able to
understand the
>liturgy in Greek in a Greek Orthodox church and to communicate with Modern
>speakers. (It also happens to be closer to First Century pronunciation
than our
>academic attempt to speak Attic.)

You will notice in another email an "emic Koine", about 75% of the way to
Greek speakers have actually responded to me positively saying, "Oh, that
sounds like Greek." and "Oh, that's not offensive." The Greek speakers even
imagine hearing rounded "u/oi" as "i" at first.

And listening to modern Greek from a 'Koine' is not the biggest problem.
The Koine y/oi vowel (French y) has become 'i' in modern and gets picked up
easily in Koine ears , because of the 'i' sound-overlap in common. (In fact
ancient Egyptians didn't always hear that sound so well either and
sometimes wrote "imein" 'to you'/hUMIN, many centuries before the 'u/oi'
phoneme went to 'i'.

I've had students visit Greek areas and report that their ears were attuned
to the market and reaadily picked up words and phrases while companions
with much fuller, academic training completely missed everything,
complaining that it 'wasn't "Greek"'.
Another student started listening to modern Greek radio broadcasts, was
able to pick out some words and claimed that the language 'sounded
friendly(=recognizable)' to his ears.

So yes, even the modern language may play a secondary role in decision

There is more than one way to be academic and true to at least a great part
of the ancient world.

One might argue that it is a compromise, and perhaps thereby lose both
sides, but emic Koine is remarkably pleasant for both.
[By the way, Erasmian speakers are usually unaware that their "Attic"
fricatives theta, fi, and chi are 'modern'. They are certainly not BC and
probably didn't become fricatives until Origin's time and later. Yet I've
included them in "emic Koine" on three grounds: a. the change took place
within the Koine period, b. the majority 'academic' dialects already accept
it, c. the aspirate/unaspirate-stop distinction is difficult for speakers
of western European langauges [why push a problematic point that's already

Randall Buth

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