[B-Greek] Subject: main point: reading aloud, consonant clusters, modern pronunciation

CTCE jfs at jfsanders.com
Tue Nov 7 07:23:59 EST 2006

If I may I wish to add one more perspective on this issue.

Let me give an example of my thinking.  I am in China.  There are many 
people from all over the globe that come here to learn the Chinese language. 
Many of them, unfortunately learn the vocabulary and grammar but still 
cannot make the Chinese people understand them.  That is because they do not 
have the rhythm or melody (I hope these two words convey my meaning) of the 
language.  It just does not sound like it is Chinese, rather it sounds as if 
it is German or French or English (or whatever).

If  one sounds the Greek text to themselves, then it makes no difference 
what values you give the letters.  But if you publish the sounds or make 
public your reading, then I would think that it ought to sound "Greek".  I 
do not know if any one has attempted to reconstruct that rhythm or melody, 
but I doubt it sounds like modern German, French, English, Chinese, or 

I also would like to thank Dr. Buth for putting the paper on Koine 
pronunciation on the internet.  At least I hope he put it there, because 
that is where I purloined it.  I also would like to thank Drs. Conrad, 
Decker, and others for all the stuff on the www (including Funks grammar, 
the moods and tenses, etc.).  For individuals as myself, it is a godsend. 
Again, thank you.

John Sanders
Suzhou, China

> Message: 7
> Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 14:47:19 +0200
> From: "Randall Buth" <randallbuth at gmail.com>
> Subject: [B-Greek] main point: reading aloud, consonant clusters,
> modern
> To: "B-Greek at Lists. Org" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID:
> <5680d1940611060447v631dc921u38cd0b9a52136ce at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
> I strongly agree with Jim West
> [JWest]
>>The whole debate about modern v. Ersamian pronunciation is a
> distraction, in my estimation
> simply because it major's on something quite minor.  After all, and
> again, it's comprehension that matters.>
> [RB]
> Yes, and the debate hides the main point. However, when I talk about
> 'comprehension' I mean being inside a text and being able to talk to
> myself or others in the language of the text that I am reading. There
> is a cohesion in the comprehension of a fluent language that is
> missing in a 'read-only-decipher' language. If 'Erasmians' were
> producing that kind of fluency and comprehension, this issue wouldn't
> arise. But they don't, so it does. Once fluency arises, then the
> choice of sound becomes a practical issue. The debate only has
> relevancy after someone is committed to attaining a high-level,
> second-language fluency in the language.
> [Steve Westfall]
>>Students benefit from reading aloud regardless of which type of
> pronunciation is used.  One does not have to employ Modern Greek
> pronunciation to emphasize reading aloud.>
> [RB]
> Amen.
> I need to add, though, that reading aloud is a separate, small skill
> within the knowledge of a language. Specifically, while good and
> useful, reading aloud does not, and cannot, lead to fluency. If
> someone thinks that it compensates for rapid use of a language -- see
> comments below 'by their fruit...'.
> [SW]
>>Regarding the primacy of reading ability in pedagogy, those who insist on
> teaching ancient Greek conversationally might take issue with you, but 
> most
> instruction in the real world does not use that approach. >
> [RB]
> Yes, most [read 99.6%] do not use that approach. But is it because of
> second language acquisition testing that has shown such good results?
> Reading has a highly regarded place in Natural Language Acquisition
> and other Communicative approaches (See Lee and Van Patten), when it
> is situated on a fluent core. Psycholinguistically, reading has even
> been shown to be wired into the phonology of a language.
> ????? ??????????? ??????. By their fruit you will know them.
> What is the result after ten years? Why do good German or Russian
> literature programs not applaud 'reading-only' approaches to just
> leave speaking to the tourists? Why do they have special dorms and
> nights/days when the participants only speak the language of interest?
> Obviously not because someone might accidently add to Goethe's output,
> or Tolstoy. The language output is even filled with mistakes, as is
> any language learner's (especially adult), but the practice allows
> them to reach much higher levels of fluency, which later allows them
> to read in depth beyond  consciousness of the nuts and bolts and to be
> atune to things more literary.
> [Jason Hare]
>>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 ? or ?)?>
> [RB]
> Ironically, those marks were added systematically on minuscules at a
> time when we know that the 'modern' consonant system was already in
> place. The marks were considered 'historical'.
>>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>
> [RB]
> Millions of Greeks feel differently. And I say that without advocating
> or prejudicing the use of modern.
>>[JH] 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.>
> [RB]
> You mean, of course, that you do not HEAR it in your reading.
> Take a great word like SUMPOSION, a cultural centrepoint of ancient
> entertainment. Your ears would likely have heard 'b' in the first
> century for the 'p'. Of course, the nasal was probably preserved in
> most cases. A form like ENPEIRWS 'skillfully' comes to mind, where the
> nasal is written, though incorrectly, N for M.
> We do have evidence that by the first century the vBETA and Ghamma had
> already gone 'soft'. So Greeks did not need to write a distinct 'b' in
> Greek. As a half-way parallel, Spanish people have HABANA [~=havana].
> I wonder how they would write/pronounce a name like "Oberlin"   in
> Spanish?
> Randall buth
> -- 
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> ????? ???? ??? ?????? ??????????
> ???? ??? ??????
> ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> ------------------------------

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