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Author Topic: Pronunciation of Greek in services  (Read 2867 times) Average Rating: 0
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MichaelArchangelos
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« on: October 20, 2012, 12:19:31 AM »

Why is the Byzantine Greek used in Orthodox services pronounced according to modern Greek pronunciation rules? Under modern pronunciation, both η (eta) and υ (upsilon) are both pronounced 'ee'. This causes difficulty because the word for 'us' (ἡμεῖς hemeis) and the plural word for 'you' (hümeis) sound identical in modern pronunciation.

Why isn't a reconstructed pronunciation like that of Erasmus used instead? I've heard part of the Canterbury Tales recited in the original Middle English, and a reconstructed pronunciation is used, not modern English.
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 03:25:41 AM »

ACK!!! Erasmian pronunciation is an abomination. Not only does it not sound anything like Greek, but it sounds artificial (which it is), ghastly and jarring.
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2012, 05:22:55 AM »

Why is the Byzantine Greek used in Orthodox services pronounced according to modern Greek pronunciation rules? Under modern pronunciation, both η (eta) and υ (upsilon) are both pronounced 'ee'. This causes difficulty because the word for 'us' (ἡμεῖς hemeis) and the plural word for 'you' (hümeis) sound identical in modern pronunciation.

Why isn't a reconstructed pronunciation like that of Erasmus used instead? I've heard part of the Canterbury Tales recited in the original Middle English, and a reconstructed pronunciation is used, not modern English.
Because language is a living organism and evolves?
Why should we remain static on the reconstructed classic pronunciation of Greek of the 5th c. BC when Greek evolved into Hellenistic Koine, Byzantine, Early Modern and Modern Greek?
Besides the language of the liturgy is neither Attic nor Classic, it's Early Byzantine, the completion of the vowel raising of η [e:] to [i:] and subsequently, the loss of vowel-length dinstinctions is already far advanced by 50 BC, according to S.T. Teodorsson's thesis of phonological development in Greek, and by the 5th c. AD, iotacism (the merging of pronunciation of η, ει, οι with ι) has completely prevailed. Hypsilon υ was the last vowel resisted its merging with the ι but it too succumbed to it, around 13th-14th c
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 06:21:33 AM »

Why is the Byzantine Greek used in Orthodox services pronounced according to modern Greek pronunciation rules? Under modern pronunciation, both η (eta) and υ (upsilon) are both pronounced 'ee'. This causes difficulty because the word for 'us' (ἡμεῖς hemeis) and the plural word for 'you' (hümeis) sound identical in modern pronunciation.

Why isn't a reconstructed pronunciation like that of Erasmus used instead? I've heard part of the Canterbury Tales recited in the original Middle English, and a reconstructed pronunciation is used, not modern English.

As Apostolos said, with the exception of the υ (upsilon), "Modern Greek Pronunciation" was already in use by the Byzantine period. An Erasmian reconstruction of Ancient Greek would be far more out of place than the pronunciation currently in use.
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 06:52:59 AM »

ACK!!! Erasmian pronunciation is an abomination. Not only does it not sound anything like Greek, but it sounds artificial (which it is), ghastly and jarring.

+10
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 07:20:31 AM »

No. Just, no.
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 09:21:37 AM »


Because language is a living organism and evolves?
Why should we remain static on the reconstructed classic pronunciation of Greek of the 5th c. BC when Greek evolved into Hellenistic Koine, Byzantine, Early Modern and Modern Greek?

Do you pronounce Latin and French the same way as well?
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 09:24:42 AM »

ACK!!! Erasmian pronunciation is an abomination. Not only does it not sound anything like Greek, but it sounds artificial (which it is), ghastly and jarring.

+10

+10^2
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 11:02:30 AM »


Because language is a living organism and evolves?
Why should we remain static on the reconstructed classic pronunciation of Greek of the 5th c. BC when Greek evolved into Hellenistic Koine, Byzantine, Early Modern and Modern Greek?

Do you pronounce Latin and French the same way as well?

Actually, modern Latin is spoken in an highly Italiante accent. I had a professor friend who cringed throughout the Passion of the Christ because of the accents. Of course language evolves and since we have no recordings of dead Romans or Greeks from the ancient times what do you expect?
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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 11:05:28 AM »


Because language is a living organism and evolves?
Why should we remain static on the reconstructed classic pronunciation of Greek of the 5th c. BC when Greek evolved into Hellenistic Koine, Byzantine, Early Modern and Modern Greek?

Do you pronounce Latin and French the same way as well?

Actually, modern Latin is spoken in an highly Italiante accent. I had a professor friend who cringed throughout the Passion of the Christ because of the accents. Of course language evolves and since we have no recordings of dead Romans or Greeks from the ancient times what do you expect?

I remember reading that until relatively recently (say the 1850s), ecclesiastical Latin was spoken differently all over Europe depending on the lingua franca of the local population, so the Latin in a Mass in, say, Berlin, would have a distinctly German character to it. 

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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 11:37:27 AM »


Because language is a living organism and evolves?
Why should we remain static on the reconstructed classic pronunciation of Greek of the 5th c. BC when Greek evolved into Hellenistic Koine, Byzantine, Early Modern and Modern Greek?

Do you pronounce Latin and French the same way as well?

Actually, modern Latin is spoken in an highly Italiante accent. I had a professor friend who cringed throughout the Passion of the Christ because of the accents. Of course language evolves and since we have no recordings of dead Romans or Greeks from the ancient times what do you expect?

I remember reading that until relatively recently (say the 1850s), ecclesiastical Latin was spoken differently all over Europe depending on the lingua franca of the local population, so the Latin in a Mass in, say, Berlin, would have a distinctly German character to it. 



My friend said that the Latin experts assisting in the movie were from one of the colleges in Rome associated with the Church. That probably accounts for the Italian flavor in the film....

As to English, if I am from New Jersey or Brooklyn should I be upset if I go to Church in Georgia and hear a southern lilt? and so on...Seems to me there are more important fish to fry out there than accents.
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 07:28:35 PM »

Quote
Seems to me there are more important fish to fry out there than accents.

Legitimate and natural variations in accent are one thing, but Erasmian pronunciation of Greek is not a legitimate or natural variation. Erasmus might not have had the opportunity to hear Greek being spoken by Greeks, so he came up with what he thought was right.

Unfortunately, there are still academics who insist Erasmian pronunciation is proper and true, and will even say so to the face of people of Greek ancestry who have grown up speaking Greek. I've witnessed this myself, I'm not making it up.
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2012, 07:28:54 PM »

Thanks for all the replies.

So when St John Chrysostom was alive, the Liturgy would have started "Evlogimeni (h)i Vasilia..." rather than "Eulogēmenē hē Basileia..."? When did the rough breathing die out, anyway?

Was Greek pronounced roughly the way Erasmus taught during the time of Christ? The η must at least have been pronounced as an 'eh' sound or else the name of Jesus would have been written Ἰεσοῦς rather than Ἰησοῦς.
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2012, 07:31:46 PM »


Quote
Was Greek pronounced roughly the way Erasmus taught during the time of Christ?

No. Erasmian pronunciation bears little resemblance to any form of Greek I am familiar with.
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 07:37:16 PM »

So when St John Chrysostom was alive, the Liturgy would have started "Evlogimeni (h)i Vasilia..." rather than "Eulogēmenē hē Basileia..."?

As far as we know, yes.

Quote
When did the rough breathing die out, anyway?

Some time during the Hellenistic period, although it remained in Greek orthography until very recently.

Quote
Was Greek pronounced roughly the way Erasmus taught during the time of Christ?

No, even by the time of Christ, the Greek would have sounded a lot more like its modern form than anything Erasmus taught.*


Quote
The η must at least have been pronounced as an 'eh' sound or else the name of Jesus would have been written Ἰεσοῦς rather than Ἰησοῦς.

I don't know exactly when eta became "i", but not necessarily. Jesus was not a new name (think Book of Joshua) and had a Greek spelling long before the time of Christ.


*It's debatable how much Erasmian pronunciation even resembles Ancient Greek, but that's another question.
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« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2012, 05:50:24 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

So when St John Chrysostom was alive, the Liturgy would have started "Evlogimeni (h)i Vasilia..." rather than "Eulogēmenē hē Basileia..."? When did the rough breathing die out, anyway?

Was Greek pronounced roughly the way Erasmus taught during the time of Christ?
The correct pronunciation of the classic Greek language must be based on prosody, i.e pitch accent, rhythm and metre, any deviation from prosody and all you get is novel theories.
I'm personally unfamiliar with the Erasmian way of pronouncing ancient Greek but if it's not based on prosody then it's just another innovation.
An example of prosody: the ancients wrote words by marking neither breathing marks nor accents, and yet they somehow knew that the word ΦΩΣ (man) is pronounced differently than the word ΦΩΣ (light); when prosody died out, Aristophanes of Byzantium (late 3rd-early 2nd c. BC) came up with the marks we know today and thus the first word became φώς (man) while the second one became φῶς (light).
The η must at least have been pronounced as an 'eh' sound or else the name of Jesus would have been written Ἰεσοῦς rather than Ἰησοῦς.
Irrelevant, Greek orthography is historic, it doesn't matter whether the name Ἰησοῦς was pronounced [i.e:sus], [i.a:sus] or [i.isus], the spelling of it remains the same since the Septuagint (where the name of יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Joshua, is rendered in Greek as Ἰησοῦς)
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« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2012, 06:17:04 AM »

Quote
I'm personally unfamiliar with the Erasmian way of pronouncing ancient Greek

Here's a site where you can listen to (some of) the NT online in Erasmian:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/AudioGNT.htm

Here's the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/Gospels-Acts/069John01.mp3

And here's John 1 read by a native Greek speaker:

http://ia601209.us.archive.org/24/items/kata_ioanne_euaggelio_1204_librivox/kd04_ioanneeuaggelio_01_pe_64kb.mp3

The recording starts with a description of the edition she is using, then a short note in English about the organization which produced the recordings. Then, her reading of the Gospel begins.



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« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2012, 07:29:32 AM »

Quote
I'm personally unfamiliar with the Erasmian way of pronouncing ancient Greek

Here's a site where you can listen to (some of) the NT online in Erasmian:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/AudioGNT.htm

Here's the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/Gospels-Acts/069John01.mp3
Thank you, I'm afraid that's an abomination, an arbitrary way of mis-pronouncing Greek
A much more closer to the Koine pronunciation of the Greek of the Gospel era, and similar to the Byzantine/Modern one is the following:

Gospel of John

http://www.helding.net/greeklatinaudio/greek/




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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2012, 11:00:04 PM »

Why is the Byzantine Greek used in Orthodox services pronounced according to modern Greek pronunciation rules? Under modern pronunciation, both η (eta) and υ (upsilon) are both pronounced 'ee'. This causes difficulty because the word for 'us' (ἡμεῖς hemeis) and the plural word for 'you' (hümeis) sound identical in modern pronunciation.

Why isn't a reconstructed pronunciation like that of Erasmus used instead? I've heard part of the Canterbury Tales recited in the original Middle English, and a reconstructed pronunciation is used, not modern English.

Erasmus has been found to not actually be accurate, and modern Greek pronunciation is probably much closer to ancient Greek than the reconstructed pronunciation.

I cannot give a good citation for it, but I know I was addressed briefly in a podcast. Maybe it was Search the Scriptures, I'm not sure.
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« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2012, 12:16:29 AM »

Quote
I'm personally unfamiliar with the Erasmian way of pronouncing ancient Greek

Here's a site where you can listen to (some of) the NT online in Erasmian:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/AudioGNT.htm

Here's the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

http://www.davidpfield.com/audio-gnt/Gospels-Acts/069John01.mp3
Thank you, I'm afraid that's an abomination, an arbitrary way of mis-pronouncing Greek
A much more closer to the Koine pronunciation of the Greek of the Gospel era, and similar to the Byzantine/Modern one is the following:

Gospel of John

http://www.helding.net/greeklatinaudio/greek/


In the absence of sound recordings from the period, it is impossible to say whether reconstructed pronunciations of any ancient language are accurate or not. What is interesting in the recordings linked to in Apostolos' post is that this pronunciation sounds strongly Cypriot.
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« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2012, 01:26:16 AM »

If we should return to the artificial and probably largely incorrect attempted reconstruction of Greek phonology by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus (which we might well more fairly term "seminary Greek" as opposed to "Byzantine Greek"), what about scripture readings in the ENGLISH language?

Should we also start a movement to revert to Renaissance standardations of English too, and read the Psalms in the "original Elizabethan" as found in
THE 1611 KING JAMES WORD OF GOD?????
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« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2012, 01:33:53 AM »

If we should return to the artificial and probably largely incorrect attempted reconstruction of Greek phonology by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus (which we might well more fairly term "seminary Greek" as opposed to "Byzantine Greek"), what about scripture readings in the ENGLISH language?

Should we also start a movement to revert to Renaissance standardations of English too, and read the Psalms in the "original Elizabethan" as found in
THE 1611 KING JAMES WORD OF GOD?Huh?

Excellent point!!  Kiss
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« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2012, 01:35:12 AM »

If we should return to the artificial and probably largely incorrect attempted reconstruction of Greek phonology by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus (which we might well more fairly term "seminary Greek" as opposed to "Byzantine Greek"), what about scripture readings in the ENGLISH language?

Should we also start a movement to revert to Renaissance standardations of English too, and read the Psalms in the "original Elizabethan" as found in
THE 1611 KING JAMES WORD OF GOD?Huh

Hehe, there ARE some Protestant KJV onlyists.


I noticed, for the first time the other day that the KJV mistranslated a passage in the NT "Love God and honor the King" when in Greek it actually would read: "Love God and honor the Emperor". While it IS applicable to any leader (since the Roman Emperor was persecuting Christians at the time), its a kind of funny and clear example of almost purposeful mistranslation to encourage certain interpretations (IE: honor the King of England who had the Bible translated)
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« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2012, 01:38:01 AM »



Hehe, there ARE some Protestant KJV onlyists.
Indeed, but even they seem to allow the likes of New York, Southern American, and Australian English dialects when reading the Elizabethan texts.  Wink

And actually there isn't "one" modern Greek for that matter; my priest, for example, learned to shed his seminary Greek in Cyprus a couple of decades ago (shhhhh sounds anyone?)
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« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2012, 01:44:04 AM »



Hehe, there ARE some Protestant KJV onlyists.
Indeed, but even they seem to allow New York, Southern American, and Australian dialects of the Elizabethan words to be used.

I actually saw a video a while back where those at the Globe in London are doing authentic reconstructions as accurately as possible for Shakespearean plays. They do the typical pronunciation and then the authentic. It was amazing, doing it in the original pronunciation actually made it make more sense because of the play on words and puns he would use. It also showed how raunchy and sketchy the plays were. He may have been a playwright genius, but he could have been more "proper", of course that wasn't what plays were like then so...

However, the scriptures and services are not performances like Shakespearean plays.
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« Reply #25 on: October 22, 2012, 01:46:28 AM »

We had to read Beowulf in the original Old English in college. Arghhh.
http://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/medieval/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/a4.1.html

    Hwæt! We Gardena         in geardagum,
    þeodcyninga,         þrym gefrunon,
    hu ða æþelingas         ellen fremedon.
    Oft Scyld Scefing         sceaþena þreatum,
5
    monegum mægþum,         meodosetla ofteah,
    egsode eorlas.         Syððan ærest wearð
    feasceaft funden,         he þæs frofre gebad,
    weox under wolcnum,         weorðmyndum þah,
    oðþæt him æghwylc         þara ymbsittendra
10
    ofer hronrade         hyran scolde,
    gomban gyldan.         þæt wæs god cyning!
    ðæm eafera wæs         æfter cenned,
    geong in geardum,         þone god sende
    folce to frofre;         fyrenðearfe ongeat
15
    þe hie ær drugon         aldorlease
    lange hwile.         Him þæs liffrea,
    wuldres wealdend,         woroldare forgeaf;
    Beowulf wæs breme         (blæd wide sprang),
    Scyldes eafera         Scedelandum in.
20
    Swa sceal geong guma         gode gewyrcean,
    fromum feohgiftum         on fæder bearme,
    þæt hine on ylde         eft gewunigen
    wilgesiþas,         þonne wig cume,
    leode gelæsten;         lofdædum sceal
25
    in mægþa gehwære         man geþeon.
    Him ða Scyld gewat         to gescæphwile
    felahror feran         on frean wære.
    Hi hyne þa ætbæron         to brimes faroðe,
    swæse gesiþas,         swa he selfa bæd,
30
    þenden wordum weold         wine Scyldinga;
    leof landfruma         lange ahte.
    þær æt hyðe stod         hringedstefna,
    isig ond utfus,         æþelinges fær.
    Aledon þa         leofne þeoden,
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« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2012, 01:49:56 AM »

Here is a passage:


And after one hour more ’twill be eleven.
And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot,
And thereby hangs a tale.”

Doesn't seem bad when we read it in modern pronunciation. But apparently in the original, hour, instead of pronounced like we say our, was closer to or.

Therefore, that totally twists it around as an excellent play on words, though raunchy because it is taking about prostitution and sex.

Or like the title "Much ado about Nothing" where apparently "nothing" was kind of a slang term for a woman's genatalia. That meaning of those two examples are (thankfully) is lost in modern English and pronunciation.


But as I said, our beautiful, holy liturgies are not performances and certainly aren't raunchy plays. Nothing is especially holy about a language except ALL human language.
We haven't lost any meaning or anything because it was translated by the speakers to other languages. So I see no reason to really search for the ancient pronunciation. Also, some Greeks already have trouble with the Ancient Greek, using modern pronunciation possibly may help them "get it" better than they would if older pronunciation were used.
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« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2012, 02:28:39 AM »

Vox Graeca
http://books.google.com/books?id=yws4Zey-ZnYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=vox+graeca&source=bl&ots=Evp7vlIVX3&sig=oMN9_97AqVpy6O73Fu8wOdRXmEs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zOeEUIrdAdKxygHj9YDQBg&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA

Accent and Rhythm: Prosodic Features of Latin and Greek: A Study in Theory and Reconstruction
http://books.google.com/books?id=RPSgPwAACAAJ&dq=Accent+and+Rhythm&source=bl&ots=Danvu-16dx&sig=_QIvh4J9X6414CClRzPxuLGGqqo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9-eEUNvjJemkyQHMkoDoDg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ
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« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2012, 02:50:34 AM »

If we should return to the artificial and probably largely incorrect attempted reconstruction of Greek phonology by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus (which we might well more fairly term "seminary Greek" as opposed to "Byzantine Greek"), what about scripture readings in the ENGLISH language?

Should we also start a movement to revert to Renaissance standardations of English too, and read the Psalms in the "original Elizabethan" as found in
THE 1611 KING JAMES WORD OF GOD?Huh

Hehe, there ARE some Protestant KJV onlyists.


I noticed, for the first time the other day that the KJV mistranslated a passage in the NT "Love God and honor the King" when in Greek it actually would read: "Love God and honor the Emperor". While it IS applicable to any leader (since the Roman Emperor was persecuting Christians at the time), its a kind of funny and clear example of almost purposeful mistranslation to encourage certain interpretations (IE: honor the King of England who had the Bible translated)

The word in question does not refer specifically to the Roman emperor.
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« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2012, 05:31:01 AM »

What is interesting in the recordings linked to in Apostolos' post is that this pronunciation sounds strongly Cypriot.

Other than the sharp t's, I wouldn't say there is anything particularly Cypriot about it.
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« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2012, 05:32:44 AM »


In the absence of sound recordings from the period, it is impossible to say whether reconstructed pronunciations of any ancient language are accurate or not. What is interesting in the recordings linked to in Apostolos' post is that this pronunciation sounds strongly Cypriot.

One way I've heard used (for English, at least) is to look at poetry and which words rhyme with which. Middle English pronunciation has been reconstructed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkAfDsjYaWM

It just seems to me that in Modern Greek, words like ἡ, ἧ, ἤ, ἥ, οἱ would be pronounced exactly the same which could lead to confusion or at the very least ambiguity. Not to mention the previously mentioned problems with ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς (which, thanks to Apostolos, I realise didn't occur until the 13th-14th century AD).

Based on all these ambiguous sounds, is it possible for a person who can read and write Koine / Byzantine Greek fluently to be able to attend an Orthodox Liturgy in Greek and understand everything just from listening?
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« Reply #31 on: October 22, 2012, 06:22:45 AM »

Quote
It just seems to me that in Modern Greek, words like ἡ, ἧ, ἤ, ἥ, οἱ would be pronounced exactly the same which could lead to confusion or at the very least ambiguity. Not to mention the previously mentioned problems with ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς (which, thanks to Apostolos, I realise didn't occur until the 13th-14th century AD).

Based on all these ambiguous sounds, is it possible for a person who can read and write Koine / Byzantine Greek fluently to be able to attend an Orthodox Liturgy in Greek and understand everything just from listening?

There are aural ambiguities in every language, including English, and particularly English, which has plenty of words which sound identical, but have different spellings and meanings, or the same spelling and different meanings. Yet an English speaker has little trouble distinguishing these homonyms and homophones when listening. It's all in the context.

EDIT: Changing the pronunciation of a liturgical language to some imagined earlier version of it would make comprehension of it harder, not easier.
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« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2012, 06:55:34 AM »

There are aural ambiguities in every language, including English, and particularly English, which has plenty of words which sound identical, but have different spellings and meanings, or the same spelling and different meanings. Yet an English speaker has little trouble distinguishing these homonyms and homophones when listening. It's all in the context.

EDIT: Changing the pronunciation of a liturgical language to some imagined earlier version of it would make comprehension of it harder, not easier.

Exactly, and we should also bear in mind that the majority of this stuff would be sung, which affects prosody quite a bit even when the melody is written to accommodate it.
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« Reply #33 on: October 22, 2012, 08:14:57 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

One last question: is γ (gamma) coming before ε, η or υ generally pronounced as a 'g' (as in Erasmian pronunciation) or a 'y' (as in modern pronunciation)? I've heard both.

Do you generally say monogeni or monoyeni in the Creed? Agios o Theos or Ayios o Theos?
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« Reply #34 on: October 22, 2012, 08:26:37 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

One last question: is γ (gamma) coming before ε, η or υ generally pronounced as a 'g' (as in Erasmian pronunciation) or a 'y' (as in modern pronunciation)? I've heard both.

Do you generally say monogeni or monoyeni in the Creed? Agios o Theos or Ayios o Theos?

Gamma is never equivalent to English "g" (it is more of a back-of-the-throat gargle) but, in the examples you have given, it is pronounced as an English "y", as you surmise.
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« Reply #35 on: October 22, 2012, 09:14:12 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

One last question: is γ (gamma) coming before ε, η or υ generally pronounced as a 'g' (as in Erasmian pronunciation) or a 'y' (as in modern pronunciation)? I've heard both.

Do you generally say monogeni or monoyeni in the Creed? Agios o Theos or Ayios o Theos?

Monoyeni and ayios, but ghrafi and ghnosis. So Holy Scripture would be Ayia Ghrafi.
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« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2012, 09:24:24 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

One last question: is γ (gamma) coming before ε, η or υ generally pronounced as a 'g' (as in Erasmian pronunciation) or a 'y' (as in modern pronunciation)? I've heard both.

Do you generally say monogeni or monoyeni in the Creed? Agios o Theos or Ayios o Theos?

Gamma is never equivalent to English "g"
It is after /n/.  For instance, /an-ge-los/.
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« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2012, 09:29:40 AM »

Quote
It just seems to me that in Modern Greek, words like ἡ, ἧ, ἤ, ἥ, οἱ would be pronounced exactly the same which could lead to confusion or at the very least ambiguity. Not to mention the previously mentioned problems with ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς (which, thanks to Apostolos, I realise didn't occur until the 13th-14th century AD).

Based on all these ambiguous sounds, is it possible for a person who can read and write Koine / Byzantine Greek fluently to be able to attend an Orthodox Liturgy in Greek and understand everything just from listening?

There are aural ambiguities in every language, including English, and particularly English, which has plenty of words which sound identical, but have different spellings and meanings, or the same spelling and different meanings. Yet an English speaker has little trouble distinguishing these homonyms and homophones when listening. It's all in the context.

EDIT: Changing the pronunciation of a liturgical language to some imagined earlier version of it would make comprehension of it harder, not easier.
Btw, no one would think of doing such a thing in Slavonic, although the Slavonic of today differs from SS. Cyril and Methodius as much as what you hear in Church differs from what Socrates said.

Btw, I use a reconstructed pronunciation for ready (to "hear" what it originally sounded like), but never use it prayer, in Greek or Coptic.  Would anyone think of pronouncing Modern English with the sounds of Anglo-Saxon?
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« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2012, 09:36:24 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

One last question: is γ (gamma) coming before ε, η or υ generally pronounced as a 'g' (as in Erasmian pronunciation) or a 'y' (as in modern pronunciation)? I've heard both.

Do you generally say monogeni or monoyeni in the Creed? Agios o Theos or Ayios o Theos?

Gamma is never equivalent to English "g"
It is after /n/.  For instance, /an-ge-los/.

My dear Isa, there is no n in the Greek word for angel. The Greek is άγγελος (double gamma is always pronounced as a hard g), not άνγελος.
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« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2012, 09:41:13 AM »

My dear Isa, there is no n in the Greek word for angel. The Greek is άγγελος (double gamma is always pronounced as a hard g), not άνγελος.

But it is pronounced angelos, not aggelos.
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« Reply #40 on: October 22, 2012, 09:44:52 AM »

With so many reconstructed schemes I doubt you we'll ever know how the language sounded.

I recall not too long ago having my pronunciation corrected by a monk from Mt. Athos. Strikingly his speech was between the modern and what we used to call Erasmusian. This prompted me to opine elsewhere on these forums that what we think Erasmus used and what we use today for it are themselves not the same (not to mention the various new reconstructions). Jusr about all linguists I have talked with have stated they are aware that the reconstructions are artificial but just easier to employ in studying Greek of the period.
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« Reply #41 on: October 22, 2012, 09:46:30 AM »

My dear Isa, there is no n in the Greek word for angel. The Greek is άγγελος (double gamma is always pronounced as a hard g), not άνγελος.

But it is pronounced angelos, not aggelos.

Correct (verified in the six textbooks I use) for both modern and Attic, and hence I assume Koine.
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« Reply #42 on: October 22, 2012, 10:20:18 AM »

Thanks for all the replies.

So when St John Chrysostom was alive, the Liturgy would have started "Evlogimeni (h)i Vasilia..." rather than "Eulogēmenē hē Basileia..."? When did the rough breathing die out, anyway?

Further point on this: my recollection, from what I recall of Father Robert Taft's works on the history of the Byzantine Liturgy, is that "Evlogimeni i Vasilia..." might not have been part of the liturgy at the time.  We know for sure that the alternate "Evlogitos o Theos ikon..." is Palestinian, as well as the hexapsalms at Orthros, and the original Horologion, Menaion, Pentecostarion and Triodion are all post-Islamic conquest Palestinian. 

That being said, St. John is insistent on the Antiochian usage that Psalm 140 be said at Vespers and 62 at Orthros.   Father Robert also did IIRC a computer linguistic comparison of the Anaphora from the current Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and found many idiosyncrasies that only exist in St. John's other writings, suggesting that he probably is the ultimate author of the anaphora.   
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« Reply #43 on: October 22, 2012, 11:02:50 AM »

If we should return to the artificial and probably largely incorrect attempted reconstruction of Greek phonology by the Renaissance humanist Erasmus (which we might well more fairly term "seminary Greek" as opposed to "Byzantine Greek"), what about scripture readings in the ENGLISH language?

Should we also start a movement to revert to Renaissance standardations of English too, and read the Psalms in the "original Elizabethan" as found in
THE 1611 KING JAMES WORD OF GOD?Huh

Hehe, there ARE some Protestant KJV onlyists.


I noticed, for the first time the other day that the KJV mistranslated a passage in the NT "Love God and honor the King" when in Greek it actually would read: "Love God and honor the Emperor". While it IS applicable to any leader (since the Roman Emperor was persecuting Christians at the time), its a kind of funny and clear example of almost purposeful mistranslation to encourage certain interpretations (IE: honor the King of England who had the Bible translated)

The word in question does not refer specifically to the Roman emperor.

Are you sure about that?

Jesus does specifically use "Καίσαρας" rather than "βασιλιάς" but that may not be an indication that the later, Petrine passage isn't referring to the Roman Emperor.

St. Peter was writing to Roman Provinces who had no other earthly "king" than Caesar. He also was probably writing from Rome itself.
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« Reply #44 on: October 22, 2012, 11:05:46 AM »

Jusr about all linguists I have talked with have stated they are aware that the reconstructions are artificial but just easier to employ in studying Greek of the period.

It's just like the pronunciation guides you still find in many Hebrew textbooks, which essentially just find European equivalents for all of the Hebrew characters (ע=a, צ=tz, etc.), completely ignoring the fact that it's a Semitic language.

The big benefit of Erasmian is that it makes memorising spelling very easy. Given that most students of ancient Greek will only ever read it, sticking with Erasmian makes a lot of sense.
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