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

From: yochanan bitan (ButhFam@compuserve.com)
Date: Fri Nov 10 2000 - 07:40:28 EST

>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 Carl on the benefit of audio/oral language learning,
also, there is no single right pronunciation of Greek at any one period.
On the itacism question, the good news is that for roman Koine there was
only EI=I, AI=E, W=O and OI=U.
H, A, OU remain themselves.

Today in class we ran across some obvious advantages to this later system,
we were reading some Greek documents from the Dead Sea, the non-Jewish,
Greek Bar Kochba letter (e.g., PEMSE=PEMYAI +"no desire to write in
Hebrew") and a Bababa Greek document. Students acquainted with Emic Koine
had no problem, those with traditional pronunciations found things bizarre.

Randall Buth

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