[B-Greek] language pronunciation

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Sun May 3 18:45:12 EDT 2009

But do all, or even most, Americans who learn an Erasmian pronunciation
intend to only ever interact with other like-minded Americans?  Hasn't Greek
suffered enough already from those who think it is enough like something
else (whether Latin accentuation, or Latin grammar, or English/American
pronunciation) not to bother understanding it as it really was?  Greek
should not sound like American or English or French, or Spanish or Italian
or anything else.  It should sound like Greek.  If we follow your argument
for pronunciation, why not for grammar as well?  Or even for the meaning of
words?  It would certainly make learning Greek easier if we could assume a
one-to-one correspondence between Greek words and English words.

Kevin Riley
-------Original Message------- 
From: Mark Lightman 
Date: 4/05/2009 3:08:13 AM 

--- 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 to 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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