[b-greek] re: In response to Aspectual only change

From: yochanan bitan-buth (ButhFam@compuserve.com)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 10:36:43 EST

>>Clay replied:
>> If we are talking about Hellenistic Greek there was no fixed method of
>> pronunciation to communicate this feature. To the extent that the aspect
>> encoded in the vowels it is lost even in speech when you have an
>> international language where vocalization is regional.
>Well, I wish we had recordings from that time to nail it down empirically,
>but since we don't, I can only speak a bit more from a cross-linguistic
>perspective. If people feel the need to make some meaning distinction
>they find a way to do it, even if there are mitigating factors such as
>vowels falling together.

First, Wayne's secdond point provides a general expectation and

However, both of these are too pessemistic about what we do already know
about pronunciation of Greek. We have tens of thousands of documents from
the time period that are full of 'homemade' spellings that give a good
general picture about which sounds had fallen together. As I mentioned
before, EI=I, AI=E, OI=U (which do not equal OU), and W=O are the main
culprits by the first century. As you will be able to see, these do NOT
affect aspect or tense marking in any great way.
There are occasional homonyms created by such changes, but also occasional
e.g. graYH 'he would write' versus graYEI 'he will write' becomes clearer
(at least until the later Byzantine [post-Constatine] Hta=I)

Mentioning the above phonemic equalizations does not mean that dialectic
distinctions wouldn't be heard. On the contrary, the way that someone would

purnownce vawells laik EI=I (either shorter, longer, higher, lower,
hollower, tighter, etc)
would give away a local background and certain words in any one region
might be pronounced in a non-standard form, for example substituting
"EPHDH" for "EPIDH" 'since' as a diactlectic word but not a systematic
sound shift. (cf. English 'been' [ben][bin])

Randall Buth

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