[B-Greek] language pronunciation

Leonard Isaksson leonardo1orchardcity at mac.com
Mon May 4 04:24:01 EDT 2009

I agree with Mr. Riley.  If someone wants to learn French to speak it, 
why learn it with an American pronunciation?  There will be enough of 
our own accent(s) and peculiarities we will have in there anyway.  We 
will be thick with it.

How are you going to learn Greek when the way it sounds grates on your 
ears so that it sounds like scratching fingernails that need to be cut 
across a blackboard?

Where are there collections of Sidney Allen's pronunciation of ancient 
Greek to hear?

One time I found  a link with some of Gregory Nagy's pronunciation of a 
few  lines of Homer.  I would have to search for that again.  If you 
listen, while he is using a classical pronunciation, you can hear that 
his pronunciation of vowels and diphthongs varies, even though he has 
achieved  some fluency of sound.  So if this is the case with a 
premiere Greek scholar in America, then why should it be that we will 
think that you will communicate with a fellow student on a consistent 
basis?  The pronunciation is  to help one follow along in reading, and 
for the language to be 'handled' by our ears and speaking apparatus, to 
make music in us, in other words, using these  God given avenues of 
learning to reinforce our learning.

Better that we aim to learn to speak as Greeks, or give ourselves that 
goal.  OR the Buthnian, I mean the sound system that has been developed 
by Mr. Buth, a good Koine alternative approach to how it sounded in the 
Hellenistic/NT era, with modern Greek influence.

For Homer, perhaps there are play productions that have been 
accomplished by such as Mr. Nagy with students, that can offer an 

It will more be the reading that will further our growth in the 
language, but the sounding of the words helps us a good deal to learn 

I think we will sound enough like Americans, those of us that are, 
without trying to develop an American/classical/NT Greek accent.

Leonard Isaksson
On May 3, 2009, at 5:45 PM, Kevin Riley wrote:

> 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
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
> ____________________________________________________________
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
> Version: 8.5.287 / Virus Database: 270.12.16/2094 - Release Date: 
> 05/03/09
> 16:51:00
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
> B-Greek mailing list
> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek

More information about the B-Greek mailing list