From: Randall Buth (ButhFam@compuserve.com)
Date: Sun Feb 10 2002 - 08:38:07 EST
Just got back from some time in the Galilee. I apologize for an
>Could someone point me to a good source for a complete list of "itacistic
>spelling changes?" I am currently working in two different mss. Codex
>Panopolitanus and P.Oxy. 4499 which both have these spellings <
I saw that Michael Holmes already pointed you to Francis Gignac,
Grammar of the Greek Papyri of the Roman and Byzantine Periods,
vol. 1, Phonology. Milano, 1976.
That is the most complete listing of data, both itacistic,
dialectical and random mistakes. Great book.
However, if you found wading through Moulton too meandering then
Gignac may not help.
In a nutshell:
"Itacism" is a term that referred to mixing up Greek
historical spellings because the underlying vowel phonemes had
merged with /I/. This term, itacism, is also used to refer to any
similar common, spelling mixup that is based on an underlying merger
of vowel phonemes.
The broad, universal, itacistic interchanges, post-Constantine,
That turns out to be, of course, the modern Greek vowel system.
Beyond those, almost anything could and did happen sooner or later,
for a lot of reasons beyond simple itacism.
Again, broadly speaking, there are two other categories of "irregular
spellings" beyond itacism. Spellings may represent alternative
dialectical words, or spellings may simply be typos (maybe written
on a hot day after a nice lunch, as I 've joked with students in text
criticism classes.) What is meant by a dialectical word?
During the 4-10c CE the phoneme /U/ was in the process of
assimulating to /I/. It happened early in popular Greek though
literate classes apparently maintained /U/ (=phonetic "y",
umlaut "ue") until the beginning of the second Christian millenium.
However, in a few dialects, when /U/ disappeared in the main
dialects, their own /U/ disappeared and
assimilated with /OU/. Thus, for all of the dialects /U/
disappeared, ie., Greek no longer had an [y] sound,
but in a few dialects we start to see new words
based on a different phonetic history. Such dialectical forms are
"real" spellings and not technically itacism. Thus, if you found a
south Pelapponese medieval text with /gloukos/ 'sweet' you
would not call that itacism, technically, but a dialectic word
for the wider /glykos/. However, if you found anyone writing
/GLIKOS/, /GLHKOS/, or /GLEIKOS/,
those would be known, recognized or "common" itacisms.
The common, pre-Constantine "itacisms" were:
EI = I,
AI = E,
W = O,
OI = U.
Those also tend to describe the major itacisms in our 'good
manuscripts' of the NT. Itacistic /H and U/ only tend to show
up in the second half of the first millenium in our manuscripts,
though the infamous problem of unstressed H/U in
HMWN/UMWN 'our'/'your' was apparently quite
early. E.g, Col 3.4 where this fluctuates between
UMWN p-46, alef, D versus HMWN B and D-corrected.
Hope this helps. Something similar to the above might be found in
Bruce Metzger's introduction to Text Criticism. I don't have it
at hand's reach. For more, you would probably need to
plow through some chapters of Geoffrey Horrocks, Greek,
A History of the Language and Its Speakers. Longmans 1997.
His control and selection of the data is quite impressive, as might
be expected of the successor to W. Sidney Allen at Cambridge.
(If you don't own it, this one should go on a 'must buy' list.)
Randall Buth, PhD
Director, Biblical Language Center
and Lecturer, Biblical Hebrew
Rothberg International School
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