Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Fri May 10 08:07:41 EDT 2002

At 9:59 PM -0400 5/9/02, Polycarp66 at wrote:
>In a message dated 5/9/2002 9:20:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>andrewwcarlson at writes:
>Are there any rules of thumb to remember when pronuncing the variable
>vowels (A,I). Some articles I have read on the Internet have left me in a
>maze of confusion. Can anyone help me please?
>Randall Buth (and others) have discussed this at some length.  If you go to
>and enter "pronounce pronounced" in the search box, you should get a number
>of hits.

George Somsel has pointed you to our archives; unfortunately you are likely
to find, upon reading what list-members have written and argued about
pronunciation of Koine (or any other form of ancient Greek) leaves you
remaining in "a maze of confusion." There simply is no consensus, either on
(a) WHETHER we can accurately determine how Greek was pronounced at any
particular time or place in antiquity, or (b) HOW ancient Greek OUGHT best
to be pronounced (e.g., (i) whether in approximate emulation of some
particular form of ancient Greek--assuming that pronunciation can be
attained, or (ii) using the modern Greek pronunciation--either because we
know how that IS pronounced or because we believe it really does come close
to the way Koine Greek was pronounced, or (iii) using as a convention a
pronunciation that differentiates clearly those vowels and diphthongs which
in modern Greek have succumbed to itacism and are pronounced identically or
nearly identically--realizing that such a pronunciation is patently
inaccurate but pedagogically useful because it permits learners to
pronounce the language in some approximation to the way it is spelled.

I think that covers the range of views you'll find; it's certain that you
won't find a consensus. I personally think that it's more important to have
SOME pronunciation that is consistent and that it doesn't matter so much
WHICH of the competing schemes one chooses, but that one who is learning
Greek NEEDS to be able to vocalize as well as discern the written
characters: this aural reinforcement of what is seen by the eye is of
immense value in reinforcing the learning of a foreign language (ANY
foreign language).

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

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