pronunciation question

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Fri Jan 3 10:41:46 EST 2003


>===== Original Message From SPegler919 at aol.com =====
>My own reaction is that the final s was probably pronounced, given the
>-os ending of the MNS 2d declension and -as -hs endings of the first
>endings, to say nothing of various verb endings!  If the endings had not
>been pronounced, then the varios endings would have changed over time,
>which would have been reflected in spelling.

To this I would add that unpronounced letters are generally there for a 
reason, even if it's as historical vestiges. Why would a Greek speaker add an 
unpronounced letter to a transliteration? It seems like there would need to be 
something that the letter did to the pronunciation of the word. And if the 
point of the inquiry is to account for these letters that don't seem to belong 
in transliterated foreign names, I don't know what the letter would be 
contributing. I believe the usual explanation is that the Greek names were 
just expected to have these final sigmas to give the right sound.

Another issue that might be pursuing is the reverse phenomenon. How are Greek 
names and words with final s rendered in other languages? One that comes to 
mind is pitros in Rabbinic Hebrew, which I know preserves the s sound. If 
these letters were unpronounced, it seems we should expect transliterations to 
drop them.

Well, I've never really given the question much thought, but those are some 
ideas that come to mind.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics
>
>I have a question regarding ancient Greek pronunciation, which I am
>sure you can answer. Is it possible that final sigma went unpronounced
>in many cases (like final "s" in many French words)? This would make
>good sense to me in regard to biblical names, where Greek records
>"Judas" or "Joses" instead of "Juda' and "Jose." I know that in Hebrew
>there is no "s" sound after these (and many other) proper names, and I
>can't imagine that people speaking Greek just started (mis)pronouncing
>everyone's name for stylistic or other reasons. There is usually an
>effort made, in transliterating proper names, to lean towards accuracy,
>even when some sounds aren't represented phonemically by the
>corresponding languages alphabet (no "sh" letter or "tz" letter in
>Greek as in Hebrew, etc.)
>
>Dr. Stephen Pegler
>Ph.D. New Testament
>Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
>Bannockburn, IL
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