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Author Topic: Modern Greek and Russian vs. Koine and Slavonic  (Read 4280 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 02, 2011, 06:10:47 PM »

I've wanted to learn Koine Greek for a while now and since I was also thinking of going for modern Greek instead since I don't plan on going into ministry, I was wondering what the degree of similarity between them is. Is it like Old English vs modern or would I be able to "manage" with a few reference books after knowing modern Greek?

Same question for Russian and Church Slavonic.
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 06:40:52 PM »

The differences between Koine and Modern Greek are pretty vast. The vocabulary remains broadly similar, but there are massive differences in pronunciation, syntax and verb inflection. That said, if you don't plan on travelling to Greece especially soon, I'd recommend learning Koine first and then, after you have a good grounding in that, you can with effort pick up the modern language. The other way around, Modern Greek first and Koine later, won't be easy.

Church Slavonic is not an ancestor of Russian. Church Slavonic is a South Slavic language (related to the ancestor of Bulgarian and Macedonian) that was only borrowed by the Russians as a liturgical and chancellery language. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning Church Slavonic. It's an ugly, artificial concoction and there are few good primers for it. For that, I'd recommend learning a modern Slavonic language like Russian first and then slowly getting accustomed to Church Slavonic on that basis, which is what most Orthodox worshippers do.
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 06:54:42 PM »

Ok. Thanks!
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2011, 08:20:49 PM »

The differences between Koine and Modern Greek are pretty vast. The vocabulary remains broadly similar, but there are massive differences in pronunciation, syntax and verb inflection. That said, if you don't plan on travelling to Greece especially soon, I'd recommend learning Koine first and then, after you have a good grounding in that, you can with effort pick up the modern language. The other way around, Modern Greek first and Koine later, won't be easy.

Church Slavonic is not an ancestor of Russian. Church Slavonic is a South Slavic language (related to the ancestor of Bulgarian and Macedonian) that was only borrowed by the Russians as a liturgical and chancellery language. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning Church Slavonic. It's an ugly, artificial concoction and there are few good primers for it. For that, I'd recommend learning a modern Slavonic language like Russian first and then slowly getting accustomed to Church Slavonic on that basis, which is what most Orthodox worshippers do.

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation. Except that many words in Koine will end with "n" at the end, and in the Modern the n is dropped.
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2011, 08:47:54 PM »

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation.

As a historical linguist, I can assure you there is. Greeks tend to anachronistically pronounce Koine the same as the modern language, so it's no issue for them, but that's not typical for foreign learners. Generally the reconstructed pronunciation of Attic (as put forth by e.g. Sidney Allen) is used for Koine as well. Koine had gone through some sound changes on the way to the modern language (though which are debated), but not all. For example, the sound represented by ypsilon was a high front rounded vowel until quite late, probably around AD 1000 (/y/ still existed at the time of the mission to the Slavs).

And how can you deny the differences in verb morphology? Like when Koine texts abound in infinitives, while the modern language has lost them and uses subjunctive clauses.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 08:51:32 PM by CRCulver » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2011, 09:02:49 PM »

Rubbish theories! Pronunciation has not changed one bit, and I don't care what Erasmus thought!
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2011, 09:16:23 PM »

I think we should go back to pronouncing English as it was 1,000 years ago.
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2011, 09:17:54 PM »

Rubbish theories! Pronunciation has not changed one bit, and I don't care what Erasmus thought!

And your evidence for this assertion is...?
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2011, 09:57:28 PM »

Rubbish theories! Pronunciation has not changed one bit, and I don't care what Erasmus thought!

And your evidence for this assertion is...?

http://www.scribd.com/doc/55209806/Chrys-C-CARAGOUNIS-THE-ERROR-OF-ERASMUS-AND-UN-GREEK-PRONUNCIATIONS-OF-GREEK-Filologia-Neotestamentaria-8-1995-pp-151-185

Quote
From the introduction of Greek learning to the West in the XIII-XIVthcentury and until the beginning of the XVIth century, Greek was universallypronounced in the manner in which Greeks pronounce it today. In 1528 theHumanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, who for a timehappened to live in Leuven, in the Low Countries, composed a Dialogue inLatin between a bear and a lion
3
, in which he set forth a novel way of pronouncing Greek, which has since come to be called the Erasmianpronunciation of Greek, or Etacism, and to be regarded by its proponents as
the scientific pronunciation of Greek
.
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2011, 10:04:00 PM »

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation.
For example, the sound represented by ypsilon was a high front rounded vowel until quite late, probably around AD 1000 (/y/ still existed at the time of the mission to the Slavs).

And how can you deny the differences in verb morphology? Like when Koine texts abound in infinitives, while the modern language has lost them and uses subjunctive clauses.

Using the mission to the Slavs to reconstruct pronunciation will cause problems. The Slavs had more sounds and hence why the alphabet created for them has more characters then the Greek.
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2011, 10:14:28 PM »


Who cares about Erasmus? Scholarship has moved on in the hundreds of years since him, and there are other sources for reconstructing the pronunciation of Greek through the ages. And from the perspective of a linguist, one can see that that paper is something of a crank publication. Some of his criticisms of the reconstructed pronunciation, that he thinks are devastating, are in fact something that everyone knows already and have moved past. The author's hang-ups with Erasmus and labelling modern scholars as "defenders of Erasmus" remind me of Hindu nationalists' obsession with Max Muller as if he still represents some state of the art.

Note that the author does not say that Koine Greek was pronounced as Modern Greek. Rather, he claims that the exact Koine pronunciation is lost to us, so we might as well use the Modern Greek pronunciation. Chtets Ioann, however,  claimed that Greek has always been the same (which is impossible for a human language).

Using the mission to the Slavs to reconstruct pronunciation will cause problems. The Slavs had more sounds and hence why the alphabet created for them has more characters then the Greek.

In spelling Greek names phonetically, the Slavs created a letter (called izhitsa, now defunct) to represent the sound represented by upsilon. In the earliest texts, upsilon is transliterated distinctly from other letters which in Modern Greek represent /i/.
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2011, 10:36:29 PM »

There is no reason to reconstruct pronunciations for living languages except snobbery.

Even if it could be admitted that Koime Greek did not sound exactly like modern Greek, why do so many Western Koine scholars pronounce the Greek of the New Testament in the same way they pronounce Homer?

In the same vein, why do we leave silent the silent letters we know were pronounced in Chaucer's time when we read Chaucer? Because playing Dungeons and Dragons with living languages is lame and pointless.

Koine is only a spoken language in the Greek Orthodox Churches anyway, so I see no reason to learn a reconstructed pronunciation for a language you will only ever be reading/writing, anyway. You could pronounce it in your head as Chinese and it would make no difference.
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2011, 11:03:37 PM »

There is no reason to reconstruct pronunciations for living languages except snobbery.

There's a good pedagogical reason, namely that the reconstructed pronunciation helps students to understand certain morphophonemic alterations when they learn paradigms.

Quote
Even if it could be admitted that Koime Greek did not sound exactly like modern Greek, why do so many Western Koine scholars pronounce the Greek of the New Testament in the same way they pronounce Homer?

They don't. Homeric pronunciation has digamma, non-fronted upsilon and a great many internal aspirations. No one reads those into even Attic Greek, let alone Koine.

Quote
In the same vein, why do we leave silent the silent letters we know were pronounced in Chaucer's time when we read Chaucer?

We don't. At least, when I had Chaucer in school, we were encouraged to use the reconstructed pronunciation when reading the poem aloud. The teacher even played a tape of the Prologue in reconstructed pronunciation and then told us to continue with that system in our reading. It's important to follow Chaucer's syllable count for a real appreciation of the poetry.
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2011, 11:07:58 PM »

As a Greek, I am offended that you would make a mockery and a joke out of not only my language... but the language of the Gospels, and the Fathers, and ultimately the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2011, 11:09:18 PM »

As a Greek, I am offended that you would make a mockery and a joke out of not only my language... but the language of the Gospels, and the Fathers, and ultimately the Orthodox Church.

Sorry, but merely being born a Greek gives you no special privilege to set how scholars treat your language. If fact, it's the opposite. I find that often the best research into the historical development of languages is done by those far, far away from the country in question. Think of how little study of the history of Sanskrit has come from India, where speakers feel obligated to treat it as a holy language that emanated from the gods fully formed, and it's taboo to admit that it changed over time. I find some Greeks treat their language much the same way.

Mockery and a joke? Did you ever consider that the reason people delve into the history of Greek is because they are fascinated by the language and deeply appreciate it?
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2011, 11:10:56 PM »

I think we should go back to pronouncing English as it was 1,000 years ago.
I'm game.
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2011, 11:18:46 PM »

Anyways the reconstructed pronunciation sounds like c#@$%. The modern Greek pronunciation is very euphonic.
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2011, 11:19:25 PM »

Anyways the reconstructed pronunciation sounds like c#@$%. The modern Greek pronunciation is very euphonic.

To you maybe. You really think that everyone has the same ideas about which languages are beautiful and which ugly?
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2011, 11:25:10 PM »

To me and to many others. Back in school we were free to choose between "Erasmian" and modern and everybody agreed that from a strictly esthetic/musical point of view church pronunciation is not even comparable to that pitiful high-pitched babble that is the Erasmian.
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2011, 11:29:58 PM »

To me and to many others. Back in school we were free to choose between "Erasmian" and modern and everybody agreed that from a strictly esthetic/musical point of view church pronunciation is not even comparable to that pitiful high-pitched babble that is the Erasmian.

We = a bunch of Romanians (and perhaps a few Hungarians or Germans). Hardly a varied sample, isn't it?
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« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2011, 11:38:10 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_o_yokCkII
If this doesn't make you roll with laughter or drive you nuts something is off. Now read the same using the received pronunciation. He sounds like an eunuch.
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« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2011, 11:50:16 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_o_yokCkII
If this doesn't make you roll with laughter or drive you nuts something is off. Now read the same using the received pronunciation. He sounds like an eunuch.

The problem is that his native accent shows through. It doesn't matter what pronunciation of Greek he used -- the reconstructed or the Modern Greek -- it would still sound irksome.
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« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2011, 11:50:34 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_o_yokCkII
If this doesn't make you roll with laughter or drive you nuts something is off. Now read the same using the received pronunciation. He sounds like an eunuch.
Yeah, people just learning a language sure is funny. Is your argument so bad that you can't find a video of someone reading it proficiantly?
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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2011, 12:02:29 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lb2HPeO00I
Another funny one.
The guy is dead set on butchering the Vulgate as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_toTeFr0nk&feature=related
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« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2011, 12:50:30 AM »

As a Greek, I am offended that you would make a mockery and a joke out of not only my language... but the language of the Gospels, and the Fathers, and ultimately the Orthodox Church.
You mean Aramaic?
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« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2011, 12:59:01 AM »

The differences between Koine and Modern Greek are pretty vast. The vocabulary remains broadly similar, but there are massive differences in pronunciation, syntax and verb inflection. That said, if you don't plan on travelling to Greece especially soon, I'd recommend learning Koine first and then, after you have a good grounding in that, you can with effort pick up the modern language. The other way around, Modern Greek first and Koine later, won't be easy.

Church Slavonic is not an ancestor of Russian. Church Slavonic is a South Slavic language (related to the ancestor of Bulgarian and Macedonian) that was only borrowed by the Russians as a liturgical and chancellery language. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning Church Slavonic. It's an ugly, artificial concoction and there are few good primers for it. For that, I'd recommend learning a modern Slavonic language like Russian first and then slowly getting accustomed to Church Slavonic on that basis, which is what most Orthodox worshippers do.

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation. Except that many words in Koine will end with "n" at the end, and in the Modern the n is dropped.
Rubbish.  I have-and they are readily available-a New Testament with the Koine in one column and the Modern Greek in the other, and they are not the same text.  And that's Katharevuousa, we are not even talking about Demotic.  If you think they are the same, you are deluding yourself.
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« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2011, 01:34:06 AM »

The differences between Koine and Modern Greek are pretty vast. The vocabulary remains broadly similar, but there are massive differences in pronunciation, syntax and verb inflection. That said, if you don't plan on travelling to Greece especially soon, I'd recommend learning Koine first and then, after you have a good grounding in that, you can with effort pick up the modern language. The other way around, Modern Greek first and Koine later, won't be easy.

Church Slavonic is not an ancestor of Russian. Church Slavonic is a South Slavic language (related to the ancestor of Bulgarian and Macedonian) that was only borrowed by the Russians as a liturgical and chancellery language. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning Church Slavonic. It's an ugly, artificial concoction and there are few good primers for it. For that, I'd recommend learning a modern Slavonic language like Russian first and then slowly getting accustomed to Church Slavonic on that basis, which is what most Orthodox worshippers do.

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation. Except that many words in Koine will end with "n" at the end, and in the Modern the n is dropped.
Rubbish.  I have-and they are readily available-a New Testament with the Koine in one column and the Modern Greek in the other, and they are not the same text.  And that's Katharevuousa, we are not even talking about Demotic.  If you think they are the same, you are deluding yourself.
I have a hard time believing Chtets is being serious. Anyone who knows even a bit of either modern or Koine Greek should be able to immediatly recognize just how different they are.
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« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2011, 01:37:55 AM »

The differences between Koine and Modern Greek are pretty vast. The vocabulary remains broadly similar, but there are massive differences in pronunciation, syntax and verb inflection. That said, if you don't plan on travelling to Greece especially soon, I'd recommend learning Koine first and then, after you have a good grounding in that, you can with effort pick up the modern language. The other way around, Modern Greek first and Koine later, won't be easy.

Church Slavonic is not an ancestor of Russian. Church Slavonic is a South Slavic language (related to the ancestor of Bulgarian and Macedonian) that was only borrowed by the Russians as a liturgical and chancellery language. Personally, I wouldn't recommend learning Church Slavonic. It's an ugly, artificial concoction and there are few good primers for it. For that, I'd recommend learning a modern Slavonic language like Russian first and then slowly getting accustomed to Church Slavonic on that basis, which is what most Orthodox worshippers do.

As an ethnic Greek, and as one who served in the Greek Church for most of my life I can assure you there is no major difference between Koine and Mondern Greek, especially when it comes to pronouncation. Except that many words in Koine will end with "n" at the end, and in the Modern the n is dropped.

I'm sorry, but those Greeks I spoke with in Greece said they couldn't understand virtually anything in church services. (and one of them teaches Greek and English, tried Koine but still can't understand it) I was told that it is one of the many reasons the young people don't attend church.

Modern Greek is much, much more simplified than Koine. I would definitely say it's probably easier to go from Koine to Modern than from Modern to Koine.
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« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2011, 02:53:52 AM »

I'm not buying it.

There is simply no way to really know how a language was pronounced back in the day. Full stop.

You can certainly make educated guesses using all the methods linguists and historians of language use, but you will never really know how the ancients pronounced their language. I am not talking about things like whether digamma was still present in the language -- I mean what did chi really sound like (or rho, or gamma).

As Orthodox Christians, I would expect us to understand the value of what has been inherited and to resist the urge to play Rennaisance Faire.

The Greeks use a perfectly good pronunciation of Koine which is good enough for almost any purpose and also has the advantage of being used in the liturgical setting and in modern Greece. I don't see why any casual learner of the language would want to use anything else?
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« Reply #29 on: July 03, 2011, 06:10:21 AM »

As Orthodox Christians, I would expect us to understand the value of what has been inherited and to resist the urge to play Rennaisance Faire.
So why use a dead language at all then? Saints died resisting Roman trilingualism.
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« Reply #30 on: July 03, 2011, 06:17:19 AM »

As Orthodox Christians, I would expect us to understand the value of what has been inherited and to resist the urge to play Rennaisance Faire.
So why use a dead language at all then? Saints died resisting Roman trilingualism.

Well, I personally don't feel Koine is this insurmountable obstacle other people seem to think it is, but I am coming at it from the point of view of a non-native speaker of Greek for whom modern demotic and Koine are equally frustrating. I would not want to say anything dogmatic on the subject but, in principle, I believe it is most fruitful for people to worship in a language they understand.

I just find this exercise of trying to reconstruct a pronunciation when there is a perfectly workable one at hand completely inane and without merit (I refer you to my earlier criticisms). I expect I'll get shouted at for this, but I honestly suspect the insistence on the Erasmian and like pronunciations has its genesis in not wanting to sound like those thick-eyebrowed, olive-skins do. There, I've said it.
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« Reply #31 on: July 03, 2011, 06:34:42 AM »

Ah. Ok.
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« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2011, 08:40:53 AM »

I'm not buying it.

There is simply no way to really know how a language was pronounced back in the day. Full stop.

You can certainly make educated guesses using all the methods linguists and historians of language use, but you will never really know how the ancients pronounced their language. I am not talking about things like whether digamma was still present in the language -- I mean what did chi really sound like (or rho, or gamma).

As Orthodox Christians, I would expect us to understand the value of what has been inherited and to resist the urge to play Rennaisance Faire.

The Greeks use a perfectly good pronunciation of Koine which is good enough for almost any purpose and also has the advantage of being used in the liturgical setting and in modern Greece. I don't see why any casual learner of the language would want to use anything else?
I learned for no other reason that you can't figure out the spelling otherwise.

And yes, we do know what chi, rho and gamma sounded like.
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« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2011, 08:43:57 AM »

As Orthodox Christians, I would expect us to understand the value of what has been inherited and to resist the urge to play Rennaisance Faire.
So why use a dead language at all then? Saints died resisting Roman trilingualism.

Well, I personally don't feel Koine is this insurmountable obstacle other people seem to think it is, but I am coming at it from the point of view of a non-native speaker of Greek for whom modern demotic and Koine are equally frustrating. I would not want to say anything dogmatic on the subject but, in principle, I believe it is most fruitful for people to worship in a language they understand.

I just find this exercise of trying to reconstruct a pronunciation when there is a perfectly workable one at hand completely inane and without merit (I refer you to my earlier criticisms). I expect I'll get shouted at for this, but I honestly suspect the insistence on the Erasmian and like pronunciations has its genesis in not wanting to sound like those thick-eyebrowed, olive-skins do. There, I've said it.
Erasmus got the idea to look into the subject at an Imperial Diet, where all the speeches were in Latin, but everyone gave their own national pronunciation of it, making it almost unintelligible to others.
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« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2011, 11:32:28 AM »

About twenty years ago I studied Koine Greek in college and learned the so-called Erasmian pronunciation of it.  It always sounded ugly and artificial to me, but that's just my personal opinion. It just didn't sound like a real living language. I found it lacked musicality, flow, and beauty.  It just didn't sound "alive."

Then I converted to Orthodoxy fifteen years ago. I converted in a parish with Russian Orthodox roots that used mostly English for its liturgies. The most we used Church Slavonic was maybe once a month at best, usually a Saturday morning Liturgy for our families from Russia and Eastern Europe. Sometimes we still have moliebens on Sunday afternoons in Slavonic.  I cannot read the Cyrillic alphabet.  I've never had any formal instruction in Russian or Church Slavonic, and I don't know any other Slavic languages.  However, I do seem to have an aptitude for foreign languages. I learned both French and German with ease and am fairly competent in both of them.  However, in the 15 years I have been in the Russian Orthodox Church, I know EXACTLY where I am in a Slavonic Liturgy.  I don't understand every word of course.  But here is a short list of things I do recognize and understand in Slavonic:

1. Blessed is the Kingdom ...
2. Lord, have mercy
3. Grant this, O Lord
4. The Trisagion Hymn
5. The Creed
6. The Our Father
7. Bless the Lord, O my soul
8. The Paschal Troparion
9. Glory to God in the highest
10. O Heavenly King
11. The Sanctus
12. The Jesus Prayer
13. Rejoice O Virgin, Theotokos

I find Slavonic to be a rich, beautiful and melodious sounding language. I like it, although I do prefer to attend English liturgies since English is my native language. I am not critical of the Russian Orthodox Church for worshiping in Slavonic instead of contemporary Russian. One thing I decided to do long ago when I converted was not to become a "know-it-all" convert.  I respect the Mother Church and in my case, the Church of Russia is my Mother Church.  If the mother Church wants to keep Slavonic, that's her business, not mine.  It isn't my place as a mere convert to lecture the Mother Church on what she should do.  That's for the bishops and pastors of the Russian Church to decide on their own in how to best meet the spiritual needs of their people.

Concerning Greek:
I once visited a Greek Orthodox monastery where the Abbot told me the following story about Koine Greek. I will repeat it here for those of you who may have never heard this explanation:

Koine Greek and how to pronunce it (according to Father Nicholas):
Koine Greek was invented by the scholars of Alexander the Great as a simplified way of speaking the Greek language.  The reason that they invented it was because until that time, Greeks only spoke local dialects of the Greek language.  Greeks from different areas of Greece could not understand each other without a lot of difficulty.  The Greeks from Athens could not understand the people from Sparta or Thessaloniki or the Islands easily.  The dialects really hampered their ability to communicate.  So Alexander's scholars developed Koine or "Common" Greek, creating a language from the common Greek vocabulary that all people who spoke Greek could understand.  They tried to edit out regional dialects and local variations from the language and they simplified a lot of the grammatical structure that Classical Greek has. This new language of Koine Greek was a great success.  Not only did the Greeks like it, it spread throughout the entire Levant as a language of trade and communication. In fact, it probably became the world's first international language.  Because of a vowel shift that occurred around 300 B.C. or so, Koine Greek is not pronounced in the same manner as Classical Greek. This is most noticeable with the Greek letters oi in classical Greek. Although Koine Greek retains a lot of the Classical Greek spelling, it simplified these Classical Greek pronunciations so that the Classical oi sound is replaced with just the i sound, even though the Koine word is still written with the oi.
Father Nicholas stressed that the Ecclesiastical Greek used by the Greek Orthodox Church today uses this inherited Koine Greek pronunciation.  This is not the Demotic Greek language used for sermons and announcements.  I am talking here about Koine Greek used in the liturgy.  Father Nicholas went on further to say that the so-called pronunciation of Erasmus taught in most American and Western European universities is a modernist reconstruction at best.  What the Erasmian pronunciation does is try to reconstruct what Classical Greek might have sounded like:   The Greek of Plato and Aristotle.  The problem is, Koine Greek is not the Greek of Plato and Aristotle.  Koine Greek is the Greek of Alexander the Great, the New Testament and the Early Church. It is far removed from Classical Greek. And Koine Greek already has its own proper pronunciation:  The Church has been using this pronunciation for the past 2,000 years.   It is called the "Received Pronunciation" or Ecclesiastical Greek.  It is the Greek of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is indeed quite foolish to try to impose an Erasmian pronunciation on Koine Greek!  Think of the hubris in that!  Erasmus never even visited Greece. He never got to hear the Greek language as a living, breathing thing spoken by real Greeks. And Erasmus is going to correct the pronunciation of the Church?  A language that the Church was using for over 1,500 years before Erasmus was ever born?  It is not the case that Greeks pronounce Koine Greek like Modern Greek (Demotic).  The actually case is the reverse. Demotic Greek is pronounced in the same manner as Koine Greek.  That's the point Westerners and the non-Orthodox often don't understand or refuse to understand.

I hope these words have shed some light on this topic.

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« Reply #35 on: July 03, 2011, 12:00:13 PM »

With respect to the Abbot, isn't it just as arrogant to assume the Church's pronunciations haven't changed since the First Century? I don't think any too people ever pronounce something exactly the same way. We should also take into account the influence of seminaries versus uneducated priests in influencing different chanting styles in different areas, these changes are probably impossible to completely catalog.

No point in really asking the Church to switch to Erasmian, but let's not live in a fantasy world regarding either pronunciation.
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« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2011, 01:08:32 PM »

Koine Greek was invented by the scholars of Alexander the Great as a simplified way of speaking the Greek language.

This is false. Koine Greek arose naturally through intermixing of Greek speakers from diverse backgrounds and the spread of the language to non-Greek-speaking areas. It was not "invented" by any "scholars". Anyone who told you that has absolutely no clue about the history of Classical Greek.

Quote
The Greeks from Athens could not understand the people from Sparta or Thessaloniki or the Islands easily.

Yes, they could. In fact, many of the jokes in Attic comedy arise from mixing several dialects, and even in Athens the chorus speaks in the Doric dialect (which is possibly the dialect most distant from Attic). The epic tradition, which was the basic entertainment in many areas, used a dialect foreign to the listeners, but they could still understand and enjoy it.

Quote
I hope these words have shed some light on this topic.

No, you've only perpetuated myths and misunderstandings.

You know, instead of learning about the history of the Greek language from people whose only claim to authority is that they were born Greek, why don't you actually pick up an introduction to the history of Greek written by an actual linguist? It's not as if there aren't many to choose from.
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« Reply #37 on: July 03, 2011, 04:50:18 PM »

In fact, it probably became the world's first international language.
No, that was Akkadian, followed by Aramaic. 

Because of a vowel shift that occurred around 300 B.C. or so, Koine Greek is not pronounced in the same manner as Classical Greek. This is most noticeable with the Greek letters oi in classical Greek. Although Koine Greek retains a lot of the Classical Greek spelling, it simplified these Classical Greek pronunciations so that the Classical oi sound is replaced with just the i sound, even though the Koine word is still written with the oi.
Father Nicholas stressed that the Ecclesiastical Greek used by the Greek Orthodox Church today uses this inherited Koine Greek pronunciation.  This is not the Demotic Greek language used for sermons and announcements.  I am talking here about Koine Greek used in the liturgy.

Much of the Liturgical texts are Atticized if not Attic (i.e. Classical Greek).  The Greeks just pronounce it as they do Demotic.  Koine "OI" was pronounced /y/, not /i/.  That came latter.  There is no "received pronunciation": it is just the modern pronunciation which has arisen like modern English pronunciation has arisen out of Middle English.

Father Nicholas went on further to say that the so-called pronunciation of Erasmus taught in most American and Western European universities is a modernist reconstruction at best.


"modernist": my meter for silly arguments just went off.

What the Erasmian pronunciation does is try to reconstruct what Classical Greek might have sounded like:   The Greek of Plato and Aristotle.  The problem is, Koine Greek is not the Greek of Plato and Aristotle.  Koine Greek is the Greek of Alexander the Great, the New Testament and the Early Church. It is far removed from Classical Greek. And Koine Greek already has its own proper pronunciation:  The Church has been using this pronunciation for the past 2,000 years.
Koine isn't that far removed from Attic, although modern Demotic is.  The present pronunciation for "oi" didn't become standard until around 1000.


It is called the "Received Pronunciation" or Ecclesiastical Greek.  It is the Greek of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is indeed quite foolish to try to impose an Erasmian pronunciation on Koine Greek!  Think of the hubris in that!  Erasmus never even visited Greece.

The center of Koine was Alexandria, Egypt.

He never got to hear the Greek language as a living, breathing thing spoken by real Greeks.
No one has ever heard a real Greek speaker of Koine nor Classical Greek.  They all died before the phonograph was invented.  And there were plenty of living, breathing Greeks in Western Europe at the time, which is how he published the first printed Greek New Testament.


It is not the case that Greeks pronounce Koine Greek like Modern Greek (Demotic). 
That is exactly what it is.
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« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2011, 04:53:35 PM »

Koine Greek was invented by the scholars of Alexander the Great as a simplified way of speaking the Greek language.

This is false. Koine Greek arose naturally through intermixing of Greek speakers from diverse backgrounds and the spread of the language to non-Greek-speaking areas. It was not "invented" by any "scholars". Anyone who told you that has absolutely no clue about the history of Classical Greek.

Quote
The Greeks from Athens could not understand the people from Sparta or Thessaloniki or the Islands easily.

Yes, they could. In fact, many of the jokes in Attic comedy arise from mixing several dialects, and even in Athens the chorus speaks in the Doric dialect (which is possibly the dialect most distant from Attic). The epic tradition, which was the basic entertainment in many areas, used a dialect foreign to the listeners, but they could still understand and enjoy it.

Quote
I hope these words have shed some light on this topic.

No, you've only perpetuated myths and misunderstandings.

You know, instead of learning about the history of the Greek language from people whose only claim to authority is that they were born Greek, why don't you actually pick up an introduction to the history of Greek written by an actual linguist? It's not as if there aren't many to choose from.
[/b]


Father Nicholas, for your information, was not "born Greek."  He is a convert to Orthodoxy from an Irish Catholic background. I found him to be a very learned and holy man, and very patient with me and my questions.  He was university educated and had a number of degrees. He had studied in Greece, including spending over a year at Mount Athos.  In addition to his duties as abbot of the monastery, he was also pastor to the local Greek community at the Greek Orthodox Church in town.  He exhibited a humility that you would do well to imitate.  If you can't make your point with humility, patience and love, instead of the condescending remarks and a snarky attitude that you exhibit, why bother at all?  Pride cometh before a fall, and you, sir or madame, are quite prideful. More love and less disdain for you fellow Orthodox Christians would be quite appropriate.
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« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2011, 05:02:09 PM »

If you can't make your point with humility, patience and love, instead of the condescending remarks and a snarky attitude that you exhibit, why bother at all?  Pride cometh before a fall, and you, sir or madame, are quite prideful. More love and less disdain for you fellow Orthodox Christians would be quite appropriate.

Refuting someone who states factual errors and gets their information on this scientific matter from a layman is not "being prideful". It's doing my duty as a researcher in linguistics. Now, Fr Nicholas might be a great priest and a blessing to the Church, but that does not automatically make him an authority on linguistics and his opinions infallible.

Quote
He was university educated and had a number of degrees. He had studied in Greece, including spending over a year at Mount Athos.  In addition to his duties as abbot of the monastery, he was also pastor to the local Greek community at the Greek Orthodox Church in town.

None of which overrules peer-reviewed publications by actual linguists.

We've seen a few times now in this thread the suggestion that a sincere scientific investigation into the history of Greek is un-Orthodox, "modernist" and "disrespectful to the Gospel." This is madness. We worship God through languages. We don't worship the Greek language.
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« Reply #40 on: July 03, 2011, 05:22:12 PM »

If you can't make your point with humility, patience and love, instead of the condescending remarks and a snarky attitude that you exhibit, why bother at all?  Pride cometh before a fall, and you, sir or madame, are quite prideful. More love and less disdain for you fellow Orthodox Christians would be quite appropriate.

Refuting someone who states factual errors and gets their information on this scientific matter from a layman is not "being prideful". It's doing my duty as a researcher in linguistics. Now, Fr Nicholas might be a great priest and a blessing to the Church, but that does not automatically make him an authority on linguistics and his opinions infallible.

We've seen a few times now in this thread the suggestion that a sincere investigation into the history of Greek is un-Orthodox, "modernist" and "disrespectful to the Gospel." This is madness.


I've never said such a historical investigation is madness.  Not at all.  But in just a short internet search, I have already found information on the history and development of Koine Greek that contradicts what you claim. Here are a few quotes from what I found:

Koine Greek arose as a common dialect within the armies of Alexander the Great.[2] Under the leadership of Macedon, their newly formed common dialect was spoken from Egypt to Mesopotamia.[2] Though elements of Koine Greek took shape during the Classical Era, the post-Classical period of Greek is defined as beginning with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, when cultures under Hellenistic sway in turn began to influence the language.

This source states the Koine Greek did originate as a "common dialect" in the armies of Alexander the Great.  That's basically what Father Nicholas said.

Secondly, you state that Modern Greek (Demotic) is unrelated to Koine. You state that today's Greeks merely pronounce Koine Greek in the same manner as they do Demotic (and you imply that this is somehow "ignorant" of them to do so.)  Yet the source I discovered stressed the continuity of Koine Greek with today's Demotic, and noted that many Demotic pronunciations are continuations and preservations of Koine usage.  Here's the quote:

Finally, a very important source of information on the ancient Koine is the modern Greek language with all its dialects and its own Koine form, which have preserved some of the ancient language's oral linguistic details which the written tradition has lost. For example the Pontic and Cappadocian dialects preserved the ancient pronunciation of η as ε (νύφε, συνέλικος, τίμεσον, πεγάδι etc.), while the Tsakonic preserved the long α instead of η (ἁμέρα, ἀστραπά, λίμνα, χοά etc.) and the other local characteristics of Laconic.[2] Dialects from the Southern part of the Greek-speaking regions (Dodecanese, Cyprus etc.), preserve the pronunciation of the double similar consonants (ἄλ-λος, Ἑλ-λάδα, θάλασ-σα), while others pronounce in many words υ as ου or preserve ancient double forms (κρόμμυον — κρεμ-μυον, ράξ — ρώξ etc.). Linguistic phenomena like the above imply that those characteristics survived within Koine, which in turn had countless variations in the Greek-speaking world.[2]

Lastly, you claimed the vowel shift did not occur until around the year 1000 A.D.  Yet my source claims vowel shifts occurred centuries earlier (Again, in line with what Father Nicholas told me.)  Here's the quote:

The diphthongs αι, ει, and οι became single vowels. In this manner 'αι', which had already been converted by the Boeotians into a long ε since the 4th century BC and written η (e.g. πῆς, χῆρε, μέμφομη), became in Koine, too, first a long ε and then short. The diphthong 'ει' had already merged with ι in the 5th century BC in regions such as Argos or in the 4th c. BC in Corinth (e.g. ΛΕΓΙΣ), and it acquired this pronunciation also in Koine. The diphthong 'οι' acquired the pronunciation of the modern French 'U' ([y]), which lasted until the 10th century AD. The diphthong 'υι' came to be pronounced [yj], and remained pronounced as a diphthong. The diphthong 'ου' had already acquired the pronunciation of Latin 'U' since the 6th century BC and preserved it in modern times.[

This is essentially what Father Nicholas told me, that most of the dipthongs shifted around the 3rd century B.C., give or take a few years.

Perhaps what Father Nicholas told me was not 100% accurate, but the overall message he conveyed was more or less correct.
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« Reply #41 on: July 03, 2011, 05:28:54 PM »

Quote
This source states the Koine Greek did originate as a "common dialect" in the armies of Alexander the Great.  That's basically what Father Nicholas said.

No, he said that it was invented by a group of scholars. The formation of a standard language among people speaking disparate dialects is a more gradual process and Koine Greek arose naturally, not under the direction of a team of experts. A key part of Koine is substrate influence (as one of your quotations there tells you) and that takes multiple generations.

Quote
Secondly, you state that Modern Greek (Demotic) is unrelated to Koine.

No, I did not state that.

Quote
Lastly, you claimed the vowel shift did not occur until around the year 1000 A.D.

The vowel shift was not complete until 1000 AD. The various vowels and diphthongs merged with /i/ at different times over the course of more than a millennium. However, we saw above the assertion that Koine vowels were pronounced exactly like Modern Greek, and that's simply not the case.

Quote
The diphthong 'οι' acquired the pronunciation of the modern French 'U' ([y]), which lasted until the 10th century AD.

Yup, see what I mean?

Quote
Perhaps what Father Nicholas told me was not 100% accurate, but the overall message he conveyed was more or less correct.

No, claiming that a panel made Koine Greek by fiat is not at all "more or less correct."
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« Reply #42 on: July 03, 2011, 05:52:34 PM »

And yes, we do know what chi, rho and gamma sounded like.

Isa, the failing might be mine, but I just don't see how this is remotely possible.

It wouldn't matter how many "related" sounds in other languages sound like the Japanese "ga" or how many descriptions of what the lips look like when the sound is uttered are discovered, without actually hearing the sound pronounced, you cannot really know what it sounds like.

I don't doubt that you could get close or get a pretty good grasp of the matter. I mean, if the sound "ga" is transliterated into contemporary Chinese and Korean sources with a related sound, that would give you some clues -- or if some contemporary source stated that the Japanese look like they're swallowing a bowl of rice when they utter the sound ... You would still only be arriving at an approximation.

By the way, I really appreciate the scholarship in this thread and would not dare to attempt to answer it. My objection is more of a philosophical one than a linguistic one.
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« Reply #43 on: July 03, 2011, 05:55:38 PM »

I learned for no other reason that you can't figure out the spelling otherwise.

PS: this is the only argument I have ever heard put forward in favour of the reconstructed pronunciation that makes sense to me.
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« Reply #44 on: July 03, 2011, 06:01:25 PM »

If you can't make your point with humility, patience and love, instead of the condescending remarks and a snarky attitude that you exhibit, why bother at all?  Pride cometh before a fall, and you, sir or madame, are quite prideful. More love and less disdain for you fellow Orthodox Christians would be quite appropriate.

Refuting someone who states factual errors and gets their information on this scientific matter from a layman is not "being prideful". It's doing my duty as a researcher in linguistics. Now, Fr Nicholas might be a great priest and a blessing to the Church, but that does not automatically make him an authority on linguistics and his opinions infallible.

We've seen a few times now in this thread the suggestion that a sincere investigation into the history of Greek is un-Orthodox, "modernist" and "disrespectful to the Gospel." This is madness.


I've never said such a historical investigation is madness.  Not at all.  But in just a short internet search, I have already found information on the history and development of Koine Greek that contradicts what you claim. Here are a few quotes from what I found:

Koine Greek arose as a common dialect within the armies of Alexander the Great.[2] Under the leadership of Macedon, their newly formed common dialect was spoken from Egypt to Mesopotamia.[2] Though elements of Koine Greek took shape during the Classical Era, the post-Classical period of Greek is defined as beginning with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, when cultures under Hellenistic sway in turn began to influence the language.

This source states the Koine Greek did originate as a "common dialect" in the armies of Alexander the Great.  That's basically what Father Nicholas said.

Secondly, you state that Modern Greek (Demotic) is unrelated to Koine. You state that today's Greeks merely pronounce Koine Greek in the same manner as they do Demotic (and you imply that this is somehow "ignorant" of them to do so.)  Yet the source I discovered stressed the continuity of Koine Greek with today's Demotic, and noted that many Demotic pronunciations are continuations and preservations of Koine usage.  Here's the quote:

Finally, a very important source of information on the ancient Koine is the modern Greek language with all its dialects and its own Koine form, which have preserved some of the ancient language's oral linguistic details which the written tradition has lost. For example the Pontic and Cappadocian dialects preserved the ancient pronunciation of η as ε (νύφε, συνέλικος, τίμεσον, πεγάδι etc.), while the Tsakonic preserved the long α instead of η (ἁμέρα, ἀστραπά, λίμνα, χοά etc.) and the other local characteristics of Laconic.[2] Dialects from the Southern part of the Greek-speaking regions (Dodecanese, Cyprus etc.), preserve the pronunciation of the double similar consonants (ἄλ-λος, Ἑλ-λάδα, θάλασ-σα), while others pronounce in many words υ as ου or preserve ancient double forms (κρόμμυον — κρεμ-μυον, ράξ — ρώξ etc.). Linguistic phenomena like the above imply that those characteristics survived within Koine, which in turn had countless variations in the Greek-speaking world.[2]

Lastly, you claimed the vowel shift did not occur until around the year 1000 A.D.  Yet my source claims vowel shifts occurred centuries earlier (Again, in line with what Father Nicholas told me.)  Here's the quote:

The diphthongs αι, ει, and οι became single vowels. In this manner 'αι', which had already been converted by the Boeotians into a long ε since the 4th century BC and written η (e.g. πῆς, χῆρε, μέμφομη), became in Koine, too, first a long ε and then short. The diphthong 'ει' had already merged with ι in the 5th century BC in regions such as Argos or in the 4th c. BC in Corinth (e.g. ΛΕΓΙΣ), and it acquired this pronunciation also in Koine. The diphthong 'οι' acquired the pronunciation of the modern French 'U' ([y]), which lasted until the 10th century AD. The diphthong 'υι' came to be pronounced [yj], and remained pronounced as a diphthong. The diphthong 'ου' had already acquired the pronunciation of Latin 'U' since the 6th century BC and preserved it in modern times.[

This is essentially what Father Nicholas told me, that most of the dipthongs shifted around the 3rd century B.C., give or take a few years.

Perhaps what Father Nicholas told me was not 100% accurate, but the overall message he conveyed was more or less correct.

You didn't give your source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koine_Greek#Phonology

The article is basically correct, though I dispute some details on its reconstruction of New Testament Greek and wish it gave some source for it.
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« Reply #45 on: July 03, 2011, 06:05:28 PM »

I don't doubt that you could get close or get a pretty good grasp of the matter. I mean, if the sound "ga" is transliterated into contemporary Chinese and Korean sources with a related sound, that would give you some clues -- or if some contemporary source stated that the Japanese look like they're swallowing a bowl of rice when they utter the sound ... You would still only be arriving at an approximation.

Any linguist would readily admit that reconstruction is only an approximation. The phonemic inventory of the classical languages is certain and many phonetic details are known. However, as Sidney Allen writes in Vox Latina, we'll never know what subtleties distinguished the speech of, say, Rome from that of Tuscany even though to Latin speakers the difference was readily audible.

Nonetheless, there's a great pleasure in at least approximating what the text must have sounded like to the people who wrote it.

In addition to pursuing the reconstruction of Koine, use of the reconstructed Attic accent at times aids learning. Even if some vowels had shifted by the time of the New Testament, learning words according to their Attic pronunciation helps remember spelling. For students of Modern Greek, spelling is not easy when you have so many vowels that are all pronounced alike. And as I said, morphophonemic alterations only make sense if you're aware that phi, chi and theta were originally aspirated stops and not fricatives.

Even the Church has maintained anachronistic details for the sake of avoiding ambiguity in texts. Think of all the various meanings of a single eta depending on what diacritic(s) it has. My editions of the Church Fathers all notate the Classical Greek pitch accent (acute, grave, circumflex) and rough or smooth breathings, even though this system had almost certainly changed before the birth of Christ.
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« Reply #46 on: July 03, 2011, 06:20:00 PM »

And yes, we do know what chi, rho and gamma sounded like.

Isa, the failing might be mine, but I just don't see how this is remotely possible.

It wouldn't matter how many "related" sounds in other languages sound like the Japanese "ga" or how many descriptions of what the lips look like when the sound is uttered are discovered, without actually hearing the sound pronounced, you cannot really know what it sounds like.
It is true that the narrowest realization is beyond reach when the native speakers are all dead, but a broad realization is possible. Enough as within range of the dialects.

Btw, on the language in question:
Vox Graeca: a guide to the pronunciation of classical Greek By William Sidney Allen
http://books.google.com/books?id=yws4Zey-ZnYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Vox+Graeca&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false
I don't doubt that you could get close or get a pretty good grasp of the matter. I mean, if the sound "ga" is transliterated into contemporary Chinese and Korean sources with a related sound, that would give you some clues -- or if some contemporary source stated that the Japanese look like they're swallowing a bowl of rice when they utter the sound ... You would still only be arriving at an approximation.
Close enough. Someone speaking the reconstructed pronunciation could actually be understood by an Ancient Greek. There is some question on whether an Ancient Greek would recognize the "received pronunciation" as Greek, let alone understand it.
By the way, I really appreciate the scholarship in this thread and would not dare to attempt to answer it. My objection is more of a philosophical one than a linguistic one.
No, you are by all rights correct as to the exactitude modern linguistics and phonlogists require.  But the aim of reconstruction is to get within the range of the native speakers and the foreign speakers they accept as sharing their language.  That much is available through reconstruction.
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« Reply #47 on: July 03, 2011, 07:52:48 PM »

Someone speaking the reconstructed pronunciation could actually be understood by an Ancient Greek. There is some question on whether an Ancient Greek would recognize the "received pronunciation" as Greek, let alone understand it.

But they're all dead, so who cares? (this is a serious question, not being flippant).

When I read ol'school Japanese, I read the characters in my head as if they were pronounced according to modern readings. Most of the time, it won't make any difference how the ancients pronounced the characters, because they are all dead. However, by doing it this way, I could read the text to any modern speaker of Japanese and the meaning could be understood. Surely this is advantageous?

The best argument I can think of in favour of the reconstructed pronunciation is that it is so heavily entrenched in the West that it would be a bit too much trouble to change now. All the Koine speakers in the West understand each other when they speak in the reconstructed pronunciation and the whole point of a spoken language is to make yourself understood. If the reconstructed pronunciation had never taken root in the West, I believe my argument would be even stronger.

All pronunciations are ultimately arbitrary, are they not? We could all agree to pronounce Koine according to the rules of elvish and as long as we all agreed to do so we could understand each other.
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« Reply #48 on: July 03, 2011, 07:56:41 PM »

In addition to pursuing the reconstruction of Koine, use of the reconstructed Attic accent at times aids learning. Even if some vowels had shifted by the time of the New Testament, learning words according to their Attic pronunciation helps remember spelling. For students of Modern Greek, spelling is not easy when you have so many vowels that are all pronounced alike. And as I said, morphophonemic alterations only make sense if you're aware that phi, chi and theta were originally aspirated stops and not fricatives.

This is an argument I find very powerful. Surely, though, this argument stands in tension against the argument that we should pronounce the text in the same manner as those who composed it? Even though I see the logic in using the reconstructed Attic pronunciation, if we are to follow this "we have to be recognisable to the ancients in case we ever discover a time machine and blast ourselves back into Ptolemaic Egypt" argument to its logical conclusion, the only way to pronounce Koine would be as Cleopatra would have pronounced it, not as Socrates may have.

Even the Church has maintained anachronistic details for the sake of avoiding ambiguity in texts. Think of all the various meanings of a single eta depending on what diacritic(s) it has. My editions of the Church Fathers all notate the Classical Greek pitch accent (acute, grave, circumflex) and rough or smooth breathings, even though this system had almost certainly changed before the birth of Christ.

I see how this logically follows from your first point.
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« Reply #49 on: July 03, 2011, 07:57:06 PM »

Apologies to Volnutt for hijacking his thread!

PS: have you considered which language will contribute more to your style/coolness points?
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« Reply #50 on: July 03, 2011, 09:03:02 PM »

Someone speaking the reconstructed pronunciation could actually be understood by an Ancient Greek. There is some question on whether an Ancient Greek would recognize the "received pronunciation" as Greek, let alone understand it.

But they're all dead, so who cares? (this is a serious question, not being flippant).

When I read ol'school Japanese, I read the characters in my head as if they were pronounced according to modern readings. Most of the time, it won't make any difference how the ancients pronounced the characters, because they are all dead. However, by doing it this way, I could read the text to any modern speaker of Japanese and the meaning could be understood. Surely this is advantageous?

The best argument I can think of in favour of the reconstructed pronunciation is that it is so heavily entrenched in the West that it would be a bit too much trouble to change now. All the Koine speakers in the West understand each other when they speak in the reconstructed pronunciation and the whole point of a spoken language is to make yourself understood. If the reconstructed pronunciation had never taken root in the West, I believe my argument would be even stronger.

All pronunciations are ultimately arbitrary, are they not? We could all agree to pronounce Koine according to the rules of elvish and as long as we all agreed to do so we could understand each other.
I don't use "Erasmian" pronunciation (for that matter, supposedly neither did Erasmus) normally.  I use the modern one, or the received pronunciation of the Middle East (unlike the Greeks, we-Arabs, Copts, Syriacs-have a received pronunciation which is somewhat the pronuncation of a millenium ago (the Coptic a bit later, the Syriac a bit before). I rarely have to deal with Classical pronuncation, except when learning words and inflections (and the I learn the modern ones alongside).  I was just responding to the claim that Greek doesn't operate like every other human language.

Btw, no one, for instance uses Old Church Slavonic reconstructed pronunciation, which would be unintelligible.  Except in learning paradigms and philological discussion.
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« Reply #51 on: July 03, 2011, 09:06:26 PM »

Btw, no one, for instance uses Old Church Slavonic reconstructed pronunciation, which would be unintelligible.  Except in learning paradigms and philological discussion.

I suppose you're talking about Church Slavonic. Old Church Slavonic would be spoken aloud purely among historical linguists, and we do use the reconstructed pronunciation for it.

A reconstructed pronunciation for Church Slavonic is hardly necessary, since Church Slavonic already reflects the major changes that led to the modern Slavonic languages, namely the disappearance of the reduced vowels and shift to a stress-based accent. I do hear that some isolated traditions maintain nasal vowels, though.
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« Reply #52 on: July 03, 2011, 09:16:44 PM »

Btw, no one, for instance uses Old Church Slavonic reconstructed pronunciation, which would be unintelligible.  Except in learning paradigms and philological discussion.

I suppose you're talking about Church Slavonic. Old Church Slavonic would be spoken aloud purely among historical linguists, and we do use the reconstructed pronunciation for it.
That would be the aforementioned philological discussion.

A reconstructed pronunciation for Church Slavonic is hardly necessary, since Church Slavonic already reflects the major changes that led to the modern Slavonic languages, namely the disappearance of the reduced vowels and shift to a stress-based accent.

that would be the difference between Old Church Slavonic, a dead language, and Church Slavonic, living recensions of Old Church Slavonic (and the Romanian one, which I expect is dead now), which ipso facto don't need to be reconstructed.

I do hear that some isolated traditions maintain nasal vowels, though.
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« Reply #53 on: July 03, 2011, 11:42:50 PM »

I was just responding to the claim that Greek doesn't operate like every other human language.

I agree with this observation and hope it is clear that I am not suggesting that the way I sound when I speak Greek to my grandparents is the way Homer or Cleopatra sounded. My argument is more of the nature of "so what?".
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« Reply #54 on: July 03, 2011, 11:56:54 PM »

As an amateur linguist, I am eagerly watching this thread.

*gets popcorn*

Back to the discussion, please.
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« Reply #55 on: July 04, 2011, 08:04:19 AM »

I think you are all right.
-Greek has indeed changed in pronunciation and syntax; it's impossible for a living organism (such as the language) to remain changeless. Greek historically moves from a synthetic structure to a more analytical one.
-The Modern language is the great-grand child of the Koine. The Koine was nothing more that the merging of all the different dialects spoken in the Greek speaking world (some were even unintelligible, mostly due to pronunciation; e.g. the Acarnanian dialect was considered unintelligible by the rest of Greeks and Acarnanians were even perceived as barbarians) into one lingua franca. Koine shares characteristics with all the major dialects of ancient Greek (Attic, Doric, Ionic, Aeolic) with Attic being the model of the language.
-The main characteristic of the Modern language is iotacism, the merging of ι, υ, η vowels and diphthongs of the ancient language in pronunciation so that they all sound like iota, a process that started in the Classical era with the merging of ει->ι; e.g. Plato bents on paretymology and for him erroneously the name of the god of the sea, Poseidon "Ποσειδὼν" derives from the masculine noun "ποσίδεσμος" (foot-shackler, fetterer). His assumption is wrong but interestingly, ει was pronounced ι, already in the 4c. BC.
-Aristophanes writes in one of his comedies that sheep bleat "βη, βη". All Greeks know that sheep bleat "beh, beh", therefore, β was pronounced as a voiced bilabial plosive (like the English b) in the Classical era, and eta was pronounced as /ε:/ the long edition (macron) of the short vowel ε.
-The pronunciation of οι->ι, is probably the last sound shift occured in the language (9-10 c. AD).
-Erasmus in my personal and humble opinion, presumptuously takes for granted and recontructs a "scientific pronunciation of Ancient Greek" while everyone knows that Ancient Greeks themselves pronounced Greek in various ways according to places, times and purposes of speech.
-The same can be said for Koine Greek. Cappadocians -is well attested- were pronouncing η as /ε:/ even until the 10th c. while the Constantinopolitans or the mainland Greeks did not. Even today, Pontic Greeks pronounce η as /ε:/   
-The Gospel according to John in the Byzantine/Modern pronunciation by a native:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5351909567436805703&ei=00VrSvHpOJWerQLo0JH0DA
-The best reconstructed pronunciation of Homeric Greek I've heard so far:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22mJXuQnYIg
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« Reply #56 on: July 04, 2011, 10:29:47 AM »

If you were to ask 100 average Americans on the street if they could tell you about the following words -- divine condescension, providence, atonement, ascetic, salvific, cruciform, prelapsarian, ascension, beseech, prostration, ecumenical, eschaton, anchorite, presbyter, ineffable, incarnate, begotten, sanctified, etc -- I guarantee that the majority would know very little of them. Many people would know absolutely none. Studies show that levels of literacy and especially religious literacy are extremely low.

The point being: Everyone has to learn theological vocabulary to understand the liturgical services, including native speakers of English worshiping in English. The language of Orthodox worship is poetic, theologically rich, and substantially more sophisticated than average speech. That's a real and significant barrier to many people, young and old. Overcoming it requires education, exposure, and effort.

Such is true, in my experience, of most Greeks. Those who are (a) educated and/or (b) spend a lot of time in Church don't have much trouble understanding the Divine Liturgy and common liturgical hymns. As long as you overlook the priestly prayers, the vocabulary and syntax of the fixed parts of the Divine Liturgy are relatively simple.

At least for me, making the switch is about as easy as reading 14th century English. Some people find that hard or even "impossible", but, with a little effort, it's quite easy for a literate speaker of modern English. Consider this famous passage from the Gospel according to St John, translated by John Wycliffe in 1384:

For God louede so the world, that he yaf his `oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf. For God sente not his sone in to the world, that he iuge the world, but that the world be saued bi him. He that bileueth in hym, is not demed; but he that bileueth not, is now demed, for he bileueth not in the name of the `oon bigetun sone of God. And this is the dom, for liyt cam in to the world, and men loueden more derknessis than liyt; for her werkes weren yuele. For ech man that doith yuele, hatith the liyt; and he cometh not to the liyt, that hise werkis be not repreued. But he that doith treuthe, cometh to the liyt, that hise werkis be schewid, that thei ben don in God.
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« Reply #57 on: July 04, 2011, 12:27:38 PM »

Apologies to Volnutt for hijacking his thread!

PS: have you considered which language will contribute more to your style/coolness points?
No problem. Whenever you're dealing with nationalism, the threads hijack themselves, not that this is a bad thing.  laugh

Well, I'm already learning German, pretty much on the top of the style heap imo  Wink

Otherwise, Koine brings the geek factor and Russian the James Bond ethos, so I'll have to chose lol.
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« Reply #58 on: July 04, 2011, 12:28:38 PM »

no matter which one you learn, Greek is a difficult language to learn.

But this web site might help.

http://www.greek-language.com/Learn-Greek-2.html
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« Reply #59 on: July 04, 2011, 12:38:30 PM »

If you were to ask 100 average Americans on the street if they could tell you about the following words -- divine condescension, providence, atonement, ascetic, salvific, cruciform, prelapsarian, ascension, beseech, prostration, ecumenical, eschaton, anchorite, presbyter, ineffable, incarnate, begotten, sanctified, etc -- I guarantee that the majority would know very little of them. Many people would know absolutely none. Studies show that levels of literacy and especially religious literacy are extremely low.

The point being: Everyone has to learn theological vocabulary to understand the liturgical services, including native speakers of English worshiping in English. The language of Orthodox worship is poetic, theologically rich, and substantially more sophisticated than average speech. That's a real and significant barrier to many people, young and old. Overcoming it requires education, exposure, and effort.

Such is true, in my experience, of most Greeks. Those who are (a) educated and/or (b) spend a lot of time in Church don't have much trouble understanding the Divine Liturgy and common liturgical hymns. As long as you overlook the priestly prayers, the vocabulary and syntax of the fixed parts of the Divine Liturgy are relatively simple.
Very good points. Wycliffe is pretty easy for me, actually. I think Greek young people are just lazy like their American counterparts  Grin.
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« Reply #60 on: July 04, 2011, 12:38:59 PM »

no matter which one you learn, Greek is a difficult language to learn.

But this web site might help.

http://www.greek-language.com/Learn-Greek-2.html
Thanks!
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