[B-Greek] Why insist on wrong when not necessary and with no advantage?

Daniel Buck bucksburg at yahoo.com
Wed May 6 13:41:15 EDT 2009

 Randall egrapse:

>Why aren't you worried about FEY! words and QA words? TA `A becomes
Q'A? Doesn't  QOOS  'sharp' sound a bit blunted? . . .
Bottom line--If you want 'fi', then consistency still demands veta.
If you want theta, then consistency still demands 'dhelta'.<

I'm following this discussion with a bit of detachment since I've yet to learn any Greek pronunciation scheme. But I'm very interested in linguistics and was struck early on in my study of greek by the phonemic relationship between certain Greek letters that don't correlate to how they are usually transliterated into English.

You seem to be saying that, leaving the vowels aside, there are certain pairs of voiced-unvoiced consonants that logic demands must go together in any Greek pronunciation scheme:  

fi (unvoiced labiodental fricative) and veta (voiced labiodental fricative)
phi (unvoiced bilabial fricative) and beta (voiced bilabial fricative)

theta (unvoiced dental fricative) and dhelta (voiced dental fricative)
teta (unvoiced aveolar stop) and delta (voiced aveolar stop)

but the latter scheme leaves no unique counterpart to teta as an unvoiced aveolar plosive. I suspect this was the pronunciation of theta when it was first transliterated into Latin, thus the 'th' to show the plosive aspect of the t. In the same way, phi was probably an unvoiced bilabial fricative, the 'ph' showing the fricative aspect.

But when I look at a word like θνῄσκω QNHiSKW, I can't imagine a plosive preceding a nasal like that. Yet the dental fricative works just fine.

If anyone can clear up my confusion on these linguistic questions, I'd appreciate it.

Daniel Buck


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