[B-Greek] rough breathing in Koine times

Jeff Cockrell jeffcockrell at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 27 16:18:53 EDT 2005

Dr. Buth,

Your comments are very helpful.

Crosby and Schaeffer in "An Introduction to Greek" state "The Athenians 
originally employed H as in English.  When they adopted the Ionic alphabet, 
in which H was eta, it became necessary to invent a new system to take its 
place.  That symbol is called the rough breathing."

Jeff Cockrell

>From: "R Yochanan Bitan Buth" <ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il>
>Reply-To: ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
>To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
>CC: 'Eric Weiss' <papaweiss1 at yahoo.com>
>Subject: Re: [B-Greek] rough breathing in Koine times
>Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 23:12:49 +0200
>egrapsen Eric
> >Schemes which set forth Koine/NT/1st-century Greek pronunciation
> >state that the rough
> >breathing had ceased by then and was not pronounced (just as it's not
> >pronounced in Modern Greek), even though the rough breathing mark
> >continued to be used.
>Actually, most writing was done without breathing marks, including NT
>uncial manuscripts and papyri. [Even more ancient Greek was somewhat
>schizophrenic in this. Ionic was noted as a 'psilotic' dialect, that
>is, a dialect that did not pronounce DASUFQONGOS [='h'].]
> >Why, then, did the forms of AF' (from APO) and OUC (from OU/OUK) and
> >hUF' (from hUPO) etc. continue if there was no difference in
> >pronunciation or sound between an initial vowel (or
> >diphthong) with a rough breathing and an initial vowel (or diphthong)
> >with a smooth breathing?
>For the same reason that AFIHMI did not revert to APIHMI. Once forms
>are generated and hold a place in a language, they can stay there even
>though the original environment that caused them disappears. Then, as
>long as people maintain combinations like OUX EKS 'not six', even an
>historical memory of the breathing system can be preserved.
> >Why do we not usually see AP' and OUK and >hUP' etc. before initial
> >vowels and diphthongs
> >when there is a rough breathing?
>Maybe the word 'usually' is misleading. We do see AP and OUK before
>"rough breathings" in the first century. That is part of the evidence
>that the breathing system was no longer in use. Historical spelling
>will preserve a majority of correct spellings, but the misspellings
>testify to the dropping of 'h-'. I would recommend looking at Gignac
>for data. My notes on my website may help point out what kind of
>evidence you are looking for. (needless to say, the above data refers
>to actual first century manuscripts and not to modern editions of the
>NT or other ancient authors.)
>Randall Buth
>Randall Buth, PhD
>Director, Biblical Language Center
>and Director, Biblical Studies in Israel
>Hebrew University, Rothberg International School
>ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
>B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
>B-Greek mailing list
>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

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