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Subject: Note to Christo, on the pronunciation of classical Greek
Author: Pavlos   (guest)
Date: September 17, 2004 at 2:15:19 AM
Hi Christo! Here are a few comments on the points you made:

I am completely *agnostic* as to what the exact pronunciation in classical Greece was! As a matter of fact, some scholars even claim that ancient Greeks spoke in a staccato accent reminiscent to modern Chinese. Go figure! Arguing about what was the "correct" pronunciation of Ancient Greek is really beyond the point. It is a fact that ancient Greeks had several differences in their pronunciation, as can be attested by the different spellings of phonetically related sounds. For example, take "v" and "f" and "p" : Macedonian Greeks usually used a "beta" instead of a "phi" which was used by Attic Greeks (eg. "belekys" instead of "pelekys", "balakros" instead of "falakros"). As far as how "b" is concerned, there is heuristic onomatopoeic evidence to suggest that "beta" was pronounced as "v". I can give you lots of examples if you wish.

There is absolutely *no* evidence to suggest that the invented Erasmic pronunciation had *anything* to do with how Greeks spoke in Ancient times. Why do you say this recreated accent is reliable, with what evidence can you support this?

The "h" sound in vowels with a daseia may have been lost in modern Greek, but it is still remembered since the daseia is still written (even though it was "officially" abandoned by parliament, so as to simplify spelling, many Greeks including myself still use it).

In addition to producing the sounds "s" and "h" the *daseia* in some cases also sounded as "beta" (this is a remnant of the long lost "digamma, "F"). For example the verb "ORO" ("to see") got a daseia to replace "FORO" - this eventually evolved to the modern "blepo" (pronounced "vlepo"). Another example is "hesperos" which may have been pronounced with a slight "v" as it eventually evolved to the Latin "vesper" and eventually "west" (as an amusing side-note, consider the Greek-Hebrew origin of the archetypically brit "Westminster Abbey" – it is from "west" < "vesper" < "hesperos" and minister < monastery < "monazein" *to live alone* < "monos" *alone* and Abbey < medieval Greek "abbaeion" < Aramaic *abba* meaning father).

As for your suggestion that "super" preced "hyper", I have found absolutely no evidence to support that it belonged to some "proto-language". Without wanting to diss linguists, I am wary about "protolanguages" such as "Indo-European" which is a conjectural language constructed ex post – pretty much a pre-historic Esperanto. As preculative as the Erasmian accent :)

One final point: unlike Latin, which is no longer spoken, Greek still is. A French person or even an Italian cannot read a Latin text and understand it, unless he has delved in classical studies. However any Greek with a modicum of literacy can read, understand (fully, if a classical dictionary is handy!), and certainly *feel* works written by Homer, Aristophanes, Plato, Julian, the New Testament, etc...

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