Results of survey on pronunciation

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Aug 20 08:01:13 EDT 2001

Without reproducing the report Randall has given, I just want to express
publicly my appreciation for his designing the survey and reporting it in
such a humane and intelligible fashion. Any conscientious teacher of an
ancient language faces practically innumerable problems in teaching a
"dead" language: even if s/he can read it comfortably, s/he has never heard
it spoken or read aloud by anyone for whom it was a native language, and
one soon learns to have serious doubts about the pronunciations taught in
schools or promulgated by researchers who have earnestly endeavored to
resolve the dubious questions. I don't think I ever taught anything like an
"authentic" pronunciation, and in the last decade of my teaching I told
students outright that I was teaching them to use a pronunciation that was
pragmatic--it would allow us to understand what written characters we
referenced in our oral practice--but that very inadequately/inaccurately
represented the actual pronuncition of Greek at any era of its long history
even during the period when it was written in the Phoenician alphabet (it
may well be that we have a better idea how Linear B was pronounced than
Ionic Greek of the 6th c. B.C.). I think we are really indebted to Randall
for the effort he has expended on resuscitation of the actual sounds and
conversational practice of the one era of Greek linguistic history that is
of concern and interest to a greater portion of living human beings than
any other era.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

More information about the B-Greek mailing list