[B-Greek] Consonant Clusters in Modern Greek Pronunciation

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Nov 6 05:37:30 EST 2006

On Nov 5, 2006, at 9:55 PM, Jason Hare wrote:

> In looking at the pronunciation of modern Greek, I see two things that
> do not sit well with me (I learned the Erasmian pronunciation when I
> began and have not made a transition). First is the use of the
> breathing marks over the U in edited texts. Does this not indicate
> that it should be read as a vowel rather than as a semi-consonant
> (similar to β or φ)? Also, I have come across some situations in  
> which
> pronouncing the EU as /ev/ or /ef/ is just uncomfortable. I cannot
> think of a situation just now, but I have been practicing the Modern
> pronunciation a bit just to try to get the feel of the text in another
> light. I just don't like it. LOL
> But, the most troubling this is that Modern Greek has several
> consonant clusters that do not exist in the Koine and that produce
> sounds dissimilar to either of the written consonants. For example,
> using MP to represent the sound of /b/ and the several similar
> conventions. Where did this come from? It wasn't present in the Koine,
> was it? I surely do not see it in my reading.

One looking at the Modern Greek pronunciation as a method to be  
applied to reading and pronouncing ancient Biblical Greek needs to  
bear in mind that the difference between Modern Greek and ancient  
Biblical Greek is profound despite the continuity -- one might  
roughly compare this difference with that between the Latin Sermo  
Urbanus and modern Italian, where there is also obvious continuity  
but a clear and profound difference.

Modern Greek NT for D and MP for B are used to represent the hard  
voiced dental and labial sounds that D and B no longer have, since  
they have become fricatives with values closer to -th- and -v-. But  
don't look for those clusters in ancient Biblical Greek because they  
are not there.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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