[B-Greek] language pronunciation

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sun May 3 13:08:00 EDT 2009

--- On Sun, 5/3/09, Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com> wrote:
<It has one advantage and one only (and for its deliberately continuing  
users it is reason enough): the written characters of the Greek  
alphabet are pronounced -- more or less, rather than precisely -- with  
distinct enunciations.>
Erasmianism has one more advantage that I have only
recently come to believe IS an advantage.  Americans can
speak it without the using the affectations of Mediterranean 
sounding langages, the rolled the r's, the sharp, unglided
vowels, the various pitches.  Until recently, I believed that
even Erasmian Greek should sound like French or Spanish
or Italian (not ot mention Modern Greek) because this IS
no doubt more pleasing to the ear.  In my Greek Reading
Group, one lady speaks Erasmian with a French accent
and she sounds better than the rest of us.  For a time I
tried to do this myself.  Then I realized that while
she SOUNDS better than all of us, she is HARDER to
understand than the rest of us.   I now believe that for Americans,
Greek is and always will be easier to understand if it does
NOT sound Mediterranean.  Two things convinced me of this
Marilyn Phemester and my eight year old.  I cannot overstate
how much easier Phemester is to follow than any reader I have
ever heard, precisely because she makes NO attempt to
roll her r's or not glide her vowels.  She is easer to understand
even than Pennington precisely because she sounds LESS
Near Eastern than even he does.  As to my son, he learned
the Lord's Prayer in Greek when he was five and he now 
recites it in my mind perfectly with an Erasmian flair that is
absolutely indistinguishable from natural English, this being
a GOOD thing.  Buth's new recordings of John are much
harder to follow not only because of his pronunicaiton, but
because of his Near Eastern flair, a great thing aesthetically but
in my opinon wrong  for purposes of learning Greek.
What I am saying is both obvious and counter-intuitive.  Okay,
let's say Erasmianism IS the only artificial language.  Maybe this
is exactly the way to go, create a pronunciation that sounds
terrible to the extent that it sounds just like English-Greek, but
WORKS.  I can hear Randall screaming right now, that of course
it HASN"T worked, but maybe that's only because it hasn't
been engaged through the lips and the ear, but that the
pronunciation scheme itself CAN work if so engaged.  I think
many of us on the list feel that Randall is absolutely correct
about his emphasis on audio learning, but is absolutely wrong about
rejecting Erasmus.  Erasmus has two advantages, not one:
 the one Carl mentioned and the fact that it best preserves the
American accent, which for learning Greek is a good thing,
for Americans, anyway.
Am I saying that Americans should learn to speak 
French using an American accent rather than sounding
like Frenchmen?  Yes, I guess I am, if they intended
to communicate with other Americans and intended
never to go to France, as I intend never to go to
Ancient Greece.  I think this would
be easier and MORE efficient.  I think someone on the list
said this recently, that people actually learn languages
better and faster it they speak it and hear it not like
Native speakers of the target language, but like
Native speakers of their own.  This I guess is my point, 
obvious, but maybe with the added benefit of being true?
Mark L


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