[B-Greek] Pronunciation of Upsilon
iver_larsen at sil.org
Thu Oct 16 00:24:15 EDT 2008
----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis Sorenson" <llsorenson at hotmail.com>
To: "B-Greek List mail to all" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 16. oktober 2008 06:21
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Pronunciation of Upsilon
> It seems all the above suggestions use a "lower" vowel or a less stressed vowel:
> "bull" = English short "u" like in "but", "i" as in "bit" or "oo" like in "foot".
> These are three different suggestions and my understanding is a fourth.
> All agree that the lips should be rounded, but the coloring of the vowel is in question.
> So what is it? Correct me if any of the following signs are incorrect.
> IPA [i] (like 'meet') with rounding (Greek was heading in this direction)
> IPA [u] (like 'bull') with rounding = [ɔ]
> IPA [u:] (like 'boot') with rounding
> IPA [i] (like 'hit') with rounding = ?[I]
> It seems most of the suggestions sound like an ?unstressed? (bull, boot, hit) rather
> than ?stressed? sound (you, leaf).
It is always a challenge to pronounce a sound not found in your mother tongue. The phonetic symbols
y and ø were incorporated in the IPA from the Danish alphabet. We have in our language four front
rounded vowels as listed below (and also four front spread vowels). If you know any Danish people
ask them to pronounce the words in parentheses (your surname suggests possible Danish or Norwegian
y front close rounded (byd)
ø front close-mid rounded (bød)
œ front open-mid rounded (bøn)
ɶ front open rounded (grøn)
In order to learn the first one, it is best to start with a long, high "i" as in English "meet",
since it is a close vowel. Then round the lips. It is not just a matter of rounded lips, but also
the position and shape of the tongue. So try to round not just the lips, but also the tongue so it
has a groove going down in the middle rather than being flat - if that makes sense. If you start out
with "i" as in bit, you will get the ø sound, since that is a lowered front vowel in English.
Now, whether the Greeks pronounced a sound like the IPA "y" I don't know, but this is how the Greek
upsilon is pronounced when Danish people try to speak Koine Greek whatever scheme they use. Is the
modern Greek sound of upsilon like the Danish y, French u and German ü?
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