[b-greek] Re: A question about koine pronunciation

From: Jack Kilmon (jkilmon@historian.net)
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 16:38:57 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
To: "Biblical Greek" <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Cc: "Biblical Greek" <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2000 1:01 PM
Subject: [b-greek] Re: A question about koine pronunciation

> At 1:20 PM -0600 11/9/00, Marilyn Phemister wrote:
> >Hi People,
> >
> >I have acquired Zodhiates' tapes of the Greek New Testament, which is
> >with a modern Greek pronunciation. I'm listening to it, but it will take
> >long time before I can understand it, I would rather have the
> >taught in textbooks for koine. It looks like I will have to make my own.
> >
> >There is one problem. There are some differences in how the
> >of koine is presented. I have the Parson's Greek tutor, which surprised
> >by treating the first letter in PNEUMA as a silent letter. Some
> >don't help the student a bit with this, and one I found says that no
> >letters are silent. So I have been pronouncing the first letter of such
> >words as PNEUMA of PNEUMATOS. Leaving it silent seems to me like giving
> >Greek an English pronunciation. THEOS is pronounced with a break, like
> >THE-OS, which I have a difficult time accepting as correct.
> >
> >If I can learn the correct way of pronouncing "pneuma" and "theos" I
> >I will be ready to begin recording.
> I do have a somewhat irreverent and very pragmatic approach to this
> problem; the primary reason for vocalizing Ancient Greek is to add the
> aural reinforcement to the visual and intellectual recognition of words:
> HEAR a word one is becoming intimately familiar with contributes immensely
> to making it a concrete experience of physical reality, not just the
> printed symbol on the page. But to endeavor to attain THE SINGLE RIGHT
> pronunciation of ancient Greek is of some questionable degree of value. I
> personally think it's better to learn a pronunciation that distinguishes,
> where possible, the way that roughly similar consonants, vowels and
> diphthongs are pronounced. I believe it probable that the Greek of the era
> of the composition of the NT was pronounced much more like modern Greek
> than like any of the schemes offered for pronunciation of classical Attic,
> but the phenomenon of "itacism" has reduced U, I, EI, H, OI to a
> scarcely-distinguishable vowel sound; I think that the reinforcement of
> sound in learning Greek is better enhanced by using even an arbitrary
> pronunciation that distinguishes the vowel sounds.

I agree with Dr. Conrad. Having found some scholars claims concerning
the pronounciation of Koine to sound awkward and wooden, I pronounce
it much like modern Greek, hence nevMA for PNEUMA. I think we also
have to recognize regional variations that made Koine of the Middle East
sound differently than that in Athens...some becoming almost a patois that
in modern example would have St. Lucian French driving Voltaire crazy.


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