Ancient Greek using Modern Greek pronunciation

< Previous | Next >

James Bates

Banned
Urdu
Does it really make a difference which pronunciation one uses to learn Ancient Greek? For example, in Modern Greek the accent marks stress but it doesn't in Ancient Greek. If I were to follow the rules of Modern Greek and stress the syllable with the accent would it make a difference?
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    When Aristophanes has his sheep saying βῆ βῆ it is perhaps useful to know that he pronounced it /bɛɛ bɛɛ/ , not /vi vi/.
     

    Nikolaos_Kandidatos

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Basically, we need to make a distinction between phonology and phonetics here - we certainly can't be sure about the "absolute" phonetic values (you know, as in what a physicist would measure with an instrument of some sort) but we do know a lot about the "relative" phonemic values - for example, that η was used in Plato's time to mark a front vowel that was a) long as opposed to short, b) more open than ι and ει but more closed than α. So when we look at the way what we get is pretty much a long ε, as fdb says.

    As to the relative merits of both systems, both have their pros and cons. I started myself with the reconstructed classical pronunciation and found it was a HUGE aid to learning the morphology and orthography of ancient Greek, because the modern pronunciation blends together so many endings that learning them may become more difficult (Greek speakers who grow up with modern Greek have the advantage that they learn basically the same (with minor changes) orthography for modern Greek so it's easier to memorize all the different spellings and even then it's difficult).

    However, when I got confident with the language, learned modern Greek and settled in Crete, I started preferring the modern pronunciation - once you know what you're doing, it feels so much more "alive" than the dusty classroom pronunciation, which I now use only when looking at texts of a certain period from a linguistic point of view. It depends on your personal preferences and perhaps also the period you're interested in: as a Byzantinist the modern pronunciation comes much more naturally to me, whereas, to take an extreme example, it feels somehow weird when reading, say, archaic dialect inscriptions from 500 BC.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Pronouncing ancient Greek using modern Greek phonetic values of the letters has as much sense as pronouncing Latin with French phonetic values of the letters. Not much sense, but highly esteemed both in France and in Greece. Let it be the local custom.
     

    Nikolaos_Kandidatos

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Ben Jamin, I would respectfully like to disagree with you - why should we take it for granted that Latin should "correctly" be pronounced with Cicero's accent and not that of, say, Jerome and Augustine? Or Bede, or Dante, or <insert random medieval name> which is much closer to modern Italian or French? In all cases, even when talking about Cicero, a case can be made for using the historical pronunciation of the time the texts were read, not only the time they were written. For example, as I said, I mainly deal with Byzantine Greek texts, and if I were to investigate, say, the reception of Homer in Late Byzantine literature it would make far less sense for me to use the ancient pronunciation than the modern one, which was used by the Late Byzantine consumers of Homer's text.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    When Aristophanes has his sheep saying βῆ βῆ it is perhaps useful to know that he pronounced it /bɛɛ bɛɛ/ , not /vi vi/.
    We can't ascribe with safety sounds of animals to human phonemes. How do we know that "βη βη" was pronounced exactly /bεε bεε/ and not otherwise?
    Is /bεε bεε/ the way all people "render" the sound of the sheep? Ancient Greeks said "υλάκ", Modern Greeks say "γαβ" and English "bark". In English it is "cock-a-doodle-doo", in Modern Greek "κικιρίκου". So I don't think that "βη βη" proves much.

    Moreover, what's the point in trying to find out the ancient pronunciation since there is no sound document of the past. Besides, antiquity was a large period of time and the pronunciation was not always the same. The wisdom of the ancient texts lies in their meaning. Verba volant, scripta manent!
     
    Last edited:
    Pronouncing ancient Greek using modern Greek phonetic values of the letters has as much sense as pronouncing Latin with French phonetic values of the letters. Not much sense, but highly esteemed both in France and in Greece. Let it be the local custom.
    How does a classicist who wants to make sense pronounce the name of god «Ποσειδῶν» ?
    Because Plato in his dialogue Cratylus writes that the name of Poseidon derives from the fact that he is the foot-shackler («Ποσίδεσμος») of seas:
    «Τὸν οὖν ἄρχοντα τῆς δυνάμεως ταύτης θεόν ᾠνόμασεν Ποσειδῶνα ὡς Ποσίδεσμον ὄντα».
    A can of worms thus opens for the dogmatic followers of classic reconstructed pronunciation
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    χαίρετε!

    Perseas writes (#9):

    Moreover, what's the point in trying to find out the ancient pronunciation since there is no sound document of the past.
    That's precisely the point - there is no sound document, so we have to try to infer it. I would argue that especially for understanding and appreciating ancient rhetoric and particularly poetry, we should at least make the effort to apprehend and appreciate the sound-effects. And the fact that the conclusions at which we arrive may at best be an approximation does not render the exercise pointless.

    And he continues:

    ... antiquity was a large period of time and the pronunciation was not always the same
    Indeed. And over a wide geographical expanse, as is evidenced by the dialectical variations in orthography between Doric, Aeolic, Ionic and koine forms of Greek. Aristophanes (in e.g. Lysistrata) plays on the Doric in the words he gives to Lampito. These surely reflect what were at the time well-known differences of accent, at least, rather than merely of spelling (as is the case in written US English, in comparison with British).
     

    Nikolaos_Kandidatos

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    We can't ascribe with safety sounds of animals to human phonemes. How do we know that "βη βη" was pronounced exactly /bεε bεε/ and not otherwise?
    Is /bεε bεε/ the way all people "render" the sound of the sheep? Ancient Greeks said "υλάκ", Modern Greeks say "γαβ" and English "bark". In English it is "cock-a-doodle-doo", in Modern Greek "κικιρίκου". So I don't think that "βη βη" proves much.

    Moreover, what's the point in trying to find out the ancient pronunciation since there is no sound document of the past. Besides, antiquity was a large period of time and the pronunciation was not always the same. The wisdom of the ancient texts lies in their meaning. Verba volant, scripta manent!
    Perseas, it is true that there are no sound documents but that doesn't mean we don't have a great deal of material on which to base our conclusions. The case of βη βη in Aristophanes in itself proves next to nothing, as you say, but no linguist would claim it does - it just happens that it is often used to illustrate the process of reconstructing the ancient phonemic inventory, since Desiderius Erasmus is said to have used it as an example in his seminal work.

    The phonological reconstruction of Ancient Greek which is taught in universities both here in Greece and abroad does not lie on an insecure basis and in general terms is taken as established fact by historical linguists working with the language - uncertainties concern specific details rather than basic facts such as those which I mentioned above for the pronunciation of η. The most extensive material is based on errors of orthography. As you know from personal experience, Perseas, spelling errors are an everyday occurrence and many less educated people make <<πεντακόσια λάθη>> even in simple sentences. The spelling errors occurring in ancient inscriptions and papyri - especially private documents - have been studied in detail and the statistics reveal the changes taking place during antiquity. For example, in archaic/classical Attic the distinction of e.g. η, ει, ι or αι, ε or ο, ω is clear from the lack of confusion of these spellings, whereas from the hellenistic period onwards we have increasing confusion. My point is that the reconstructed phonology is not based on guesswork of the type "how does a sheep bleat in Greek" but on extensive statistical study. Other material is available in e.g. transcriptions of Greek names and words in Latin (which is why Aristophanes is still written in English in the LAtin form Aristophanes and not Aristofanis, which would have been equally acceptable in the Roman alphabet if it had been pronounced that way the time Romans first heard the name being used)

    Your last point about the pronunciation being different in different times is of course true, and we might add that it was also different in different places. However, thanks to the large amount of material this can be taken into account. The reconstructed system on which school pronunciations are based (they are never the same since concessions to the students' mother tongue are always made in some form or another) attempts to reproduce the Athenian pronunciation of about 400 BC, but if someone should wish it (and some do) there is no reason why similar reconstructed pronunciations could not be used for e.g. New Testament κοινή or Early Byzantine Greek.

    As Scholiast points out, one reason we do need to be informed of the phonology of different forms of Ancient Greek is correct appreciation of metre and rhythmical effects. Another is dialectology, since the development of AG dialects would be incomprehensible without the sound system. And, of course, for linguists the history of the language in itself is reason enough to study phonology.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings once again

    To Nikolaos_Kandidatos' excellent points in his latest post (#12), one might add that the science - and indeed it is that - of comparative philology can extrapolate general principles of linguistic, including phonological, developments from contemporary phenomena, just as from fossils and astronomy palaeontologists and physicists can derive knowledge of the far-distant past beyond the reach of any direct observation. It is sometimes possible to work backwards from an existing arrangement of pieces on a chessboard through the moves that brought the players to the position their pieces are in.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    I remember someone saying that she told a native speaker of Greek that there was a difference of opinion as to whether β was originally pronounced b or v. The native speaker replied, "It's pronounced v. We should know!" The lady replied, "Why? Are you 2,500 years old?" :)
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    To go back to the original question, which was not about pronunciation in general but about stress in particular:
    I believe that, since one will inevitably stress one or more syllables of any long word, one might as well stress the accented syllable of ancient Greek words. After all, the accented syllable must have stood out in some way, or the accent marks would not have been invented; and whatever that distinctive feature was, it did turn into stress in the first centuries AD and has remained so to this day. Stressing ancient Greek words on the accented syllable also helps one remember where to put the accent when writing; which accent to use is a different question, for which there are some rules.
    The practice of stressing Greek words as if they were Latin, saying Sòcrates, Eurípides, Meneláus etc. is absurd.
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The lady replied, "Why? Are you 2,500 years old?" :)
    A bit of a very cold joke!:thumbsdown: The "educated" lady asked a contemporary native speaker of 'everyday' Greek about matters which took a very long time for specialists to come to some conclusions.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    A bit of a very cold joke!:thumbsdown: The "educated" lady asked a contemporary native speaker of 'everyday' Greek about matters which took a very long time for specialists to come to some conclusions.
    The lady didn't 'ask' anything; she expressed a doubt about the 'original' pronunciation of the letter B. The other fellow presumed to know the truth merely by virtue of his being a native speaker of modern Greek. Her answer was quite appropriate!
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The lady didn't 'ask' anything; she expressed a doubt about the 'original' pronunciation of the letter B. The other fellow presumed to know the truth merely by virtue of his being a native speaker of modern Greek. Her answer was quite appropriate!
    The lady didn't express a doubt, at least she didn’t say that, but, without presenting any evidence (the posting doesn’t state something relevant), she just told a native speaker of Greek that there was a difference of opinion (among specialists, with certain view each side) as to whether β was originally pronounced b or v. She referred to the past (was originally pronounced) and the reply she received was "It's pronounced v (now). We should know!". The lady did not understand by their reply that, although she mentioned about a difference of opinion, the native speaker was completely ignorant of the known controversy over the matter, that they couldn't possibly understand how this was possible to be happening even in the past and that by "It's pronounced v" she received an answer referring to the present and not to the past. Her interlocutor did not say “β couldn’t even then be pronounced as b”; if they had done so, then her own reply would have been absolutely appropriate. With the reply she received, her own reply "Why? Are you 2,500 years old?" was inappropriate, in my humble opinion.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    The b-v sound of β is a curious thing because in my country the opposite happens, untill this day people in the North pronounce the v as b.
    As for the original question, for self taught students of both it is certainly easier to use one system alone and that would be the modern Greek one. Besides that's what people did untill the late Middle Ages and still do in Greece
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Our professor is teaching us the scansion of Homer's poetry and I don't think it would work well if one used the modern pronunciation.
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Hardly any. But the original question was specifically about accent and stress. Stressing the accented syllables messes up verse rhythm completely. On the other hand, there seems to be no way of conveying a sense of ancient Greek rhythm: even if we pronounced long vowels long and didn't stress any syllables (assuming that was feasible), we would still not get any sense of harmony. I wonder if, say, Serbians, whose language does distinguish between long and short vowels and between various kinds of accent, do manage to perceive harmony in ancient Greek verse.
    In teaching prosody (not in ordinary reading of verse), the heavy syllable of each metrical foot is sometimes artificially stressed. This presumably does convey a sense of ancient rhythm, at least in Homer: thus, the first line of the Odyssey
    Άνδρα μοι έννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ός μάλα πολλά
    scans perfectly in the modern pronunciation if one stresses the last word as πόλλα. But because of the faculty of replacing most dactyls by spondees, this method doesn't always work.
    W. Sydney Allen has conjectured that maybe ancient Greek did have a stress, which fell on the last long syllable of words, and he asserts that in this way most dactylic hexameters and 3/4s of iambic pentameters do scan acceptably. But I don't think he has convinced other specialists...​
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    και εγενετο ως απηλθον απ αυτων εις τον ουρανον οι αγγελοι και οι ανθρωποι οι ποιμενες ειπον προς αλληλους διελθωμεν δη εως βηθλεεμ και ιδωμεν το ρημα τουτο το γεγονος ο ο κυριος εγνωρισεν ημιν

    If we used modern Greek pronunciation we would be left wondering where Vithle'em is.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    και εγενετο ως απηλθον απ αυτων εις τον ουρανον οι αγγελοι και οι ανθρωποι οι ποιμενες ειπον προς αλληλους διελθωμεν δη εως βηθλεεμ και ιδωμεν το ρημα τουτο το γεγονος ο ο κυριος εγνωρισεν ημιν

    If we used modern Greek pronunciation we would be left wondering where Vithle'em is.
    Why would that be? They haven't changed it to Μπηθλεέμ and still know where it is, Βηθλεέμ - Βικιπαίδεια.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    BTW don't know very well how Ancient Greek pronuciaton works (usually skip that chapter not to get confused), and this may be a coincidence, but in this video starting at min. 33:40 the teacher explains the Greek origin of many English words and several of them end up with a pronunciation of the vowels in English similar to modern Greek. Like "kiss" which comes from ἕ-κυσ-α, but υ in AG is supposed to read u, or not?

    And some are very similar to how we say in Portuguese like διά, we say dia.
     
    Last edited:

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    It’s pronounced like the French u or German ü. It’s called a high front rounded vowel.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Thanks, was going to correct that, we pronounce it the same way, Mastronarde calls it French u, but I'm under the impression it is the same in several latin languages.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    It’s pronounced like the French u or German ü. It’s called a high front rounded vowel.
    Initially υ was pronounced /u/.
    Yes, from 6th c. BC. until 9th/10th c. AD it was pronounced as you said.
    After the 10th c. AD /i/.

    BTW don't know very well how Ancient Greek pronuciaton works (usually skip that chapter not to get confused), and this may be a coincidence, but in this video starting at min. 33:40 the teacher explains the Greek origin of many English words and several of them end up with a pronunciation of the vowels in English similar to modern Greek. Like "kiss" which comes from ἕ-κυσ-α, but υ in AG is supposed to read u, or not?
    Old English had cussan, German has küssen and other Germanic languages have y or u. The Ancient Greek verb was κύσσω and it's probably a cognate. See here.

    But don't believe that the origin of that verb or other words like after, day, yes etc. is Greek. According to some language myths, English is a Greek dialect or Greek was the mother of all languages!
     
    Last edited:

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Initially υ was pronounced /u/.
    Yes, from 6th c. BC. until 9th/10th c. AD it was pronounced as you said.
    After the 10th c. AD /i/.


    Old English had cussan, German has küssen and other Germanic languages have y or u. The Ancient Greek verb was κύσσω and it's probably a cognate. See here.

    But don't believe that the origin of that verb or other words like after, day, yes etc. is Greek. According to some language myths, English is a Greek dialect or Greek was the mother of all languages!
    Thanks. If it's a cognate it's a similar thing or not? Either in words like κύσσω the υ sounded like in modern Greek or kiss, and other corresponding words, suffered a similar evolution, that is, from French u to i.

    BTW the u you mentioned is the French u?
     
    Last edited:

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    If we used modern Greek pronunciation we would be left wondering where Vithle'em is.
    Dear Ali Smith,
    If this is a joke, it is smart and cute :thumbsup: . Otherwise, it is certainly a big exaggeration. As it is known, the ancient Greek letter B[>β] started being pronounced as /v/ from the 4th-3rd cc. BC and on; so in the time of Evangelist Luke, and especially when he wrote his Gospel (indifferent if it was before or after 70 AD), the letter B[>β] had already been pronounced as /v/ for quite a long period of time and Luke and his contemporaries must have pronounced it accordingly.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    To be honest that's why the puritanism regarding AG pronunciation is difficult to understand, otherwise one should go around with a chronological table of pronunciation to know how he should read the manuscript.
     
    Dear Ali Smith,
    If this is a joke, it is smart and cute :thumbsup: . Otherwise, it is certainly a big exaggeration. As it is known, the ancient Greek letter B[>β] started being pronounced as /v/ from the 4th-3rd cc. BC and on; so in the time of Evangelist Luke, and especially when he wrote his Gospel (indifferent if it was before or after 70 AD), the letter B[>β] had already been pronounced as /v/ for quite a long period of time and Luke and his contemporaries must have pronounced it accordingly.
    Actually the consensus is that β was initially pronounced as the bilabial plosive /b/ and reached the modern pronunciation /v/ by the late Roman period, via /β/ the bilabial fricative found in Modern Spanish: /b/ > /β/ > /v/
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    in this video starting at min. 33:40 the teacher explains the Greek origin of many English words
    ianis, unfortunately, among educated people there are several persons, so language-chauvinists that they very often are led to, and express, illogical and most absurd views and theories, like “Greek is the mother of all the European Languages”. These persons are so much engrained with this “ideology”, that they deliberately want to ignore the fundamentals of linguistics, scientific findings about PIE roots, about cognates in the parallel evolution of the languages etc, etc. I watched the video which you are referring to at # 26 above; one of these persons undoubtedly is the teacher with these video lessons of Ancient Greek, who, although in the long presentation of her views said several things worth listening to, every now and then expressed chauvinistic standpoints, totally unreliable, which at times made me feel ashamed to hear and which I can’t comment on here. I think you shouldn’t believe tutorials expressing such unreliable views.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Thanks for the heads up ioanell, here we have an old saying that "one should not inspect the teeth of an offered horse", there aren't many channels uploading content about AG language and culture and so I'm grateful to them for doing it and these etymological demonstrations have been very helpful in memorizing words and interpreting them. To be honest being fairly ignorant on this issue I usually tended to believe in what they are saying and never had considered the cognates hypothesis, in the future will take this as a less accepted theory.

    The way things have been lately the only way is for people to agree on disagreeing
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Hello everyone,

    On the occasion of the World Day for the Greek Language on 9th February (a day on which the Greeks also honour the memory of Greece’s national poet Dionysios Solomos), I would like to contribute here by highlighting the Greek language’s fundamental role and defining contribution to the development and establishment of the European and Western literacy and culture. One should have in mind the enormous influence that the Greek Language (and culture) has had on the Latin language (and culture) already from the Greek Antiquity, the Hellenistic Era and the Roman Era, and then from the Renaissance on to date on all Western National languages. Beside languages of the Indo-european family, it also affected languages belonging to other major language families, such as the Fino-Ugric and the Turkic family (see e.g. Turkish language).

    Greek is a language which greatly has affected and enriched international scientific discourse; more than any other, it is the language which developed, shaped and expressed the beginning of many scientific theories, philosophical thoughts, and literature in most of the modern-day languages of the Western world. By virtue of the accuracy of its vocabulary provided a large amount of special terminology to almost every scientific and technical / technological field as well as it influenced part of the everyday vocabulary.

    As the prominent Linguistics professor and former Education Minister Georgios Babiniotis notes: “It is a language that has been spoken for nearly fifty centuries without interruption, from its proto-hellenic form up to now. It has also been written in the same way, using the same alphabet, for 28 centuries, and it has held to the same spelling rules for 24 centuries”

    While Greek is a language which is native only to 13-14 millions of people worldwide, specialists, scholars, scientists and common people around the world admit that its influence and contributions to the entire world have been unparalleled.
    Below is an indicative vocabulary.

    GREEK LANGUAGE.jpg
     
    Last edited:

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    [...] By virtue of the accuracy of its vocabulary provided a large amount of special terminology to almost every scientific and technical / technological field [...]
    Ι strongly disagree with the first part of that statement. If you look at any Greek dictionary, you will see that every word has at least half a dozen meanings or shades of meaning. Greek did provide a large amount of special terminology to almost every scientific and technical / technological field, terminology mostly created by Western scientists on the basis of Greek roots. A 'barometer' is not a weighing device!
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    If you look at any Greek dictionary, you will see that every word has at least half a dozen meanings or shades of meaning.
    As stated, the above was a posting dedicated to the contribution of the Greek Language in general with no intention of making a more extent presentation. As our foreign friends can ascertain, if one looks up a Greek word in a foreign dictionary, one will also see not only one meaning, but meanings corresponding, more or less, in number and in contents to those of the Greek dictionaries (see, for instance, episode, scene).

    terminology mostly created by Western scientists on the basis of Greek roots.
    This is true, although it is no new information, and none, neither me, claimed it didn’t happen, because in the dedication above there wasn't any discrimination between Greek words passed unaltered into the modern languages and words made by scholars and scientists. As it is well known, a large number of Greek words were produced in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries by scientists or scholars who combined Greek stems with whole words in order to produce new words sufficient to name new ideas / concepts / senses / procedures / processes and techniques as well as new products, which were created owing to the rapid development of sciences and crafts.

    By virtue of the accuracy of its vocabulary provided a large amount of special terminology to almost every scientific and technical / technological field
    Ι strongly disagree with the first part of that statement.
    Obviously, you are questioning the accuracy. Leaving aside the huge chapter concerning the Latin language in the formation of special terminology, the question is why they didn’t choose stems and words from another language to meet the new needs, but they chose them from Greek. Might that be that they acknowledged and appreciated their accuracy / precision, expressiveness and adaptability? Otherwise, what might be the reason in your opinion for this choice of theirs?

    Let me quote for the readers of this posting two or three indicative examples below. Any educated person can understand that (although there were words like philology, theology, antilogy) the word oncology couldn't have been in the Greek antiquity as it is a modern medical term. The scientists, however, appreciating (for what they wanted to express) the accuracy of the ancient Greek word 'ὄγκος' (=tumour) and the suffix -λογία (=denoting science [or a status, quality] concerning sth), derived from the verb λέγω (=to say, speak, express sth), combined them and made the word-medical term "oncology" (=the study and treatment of tumours).
    In the same way anyone can understand that the words psychoanalysis (<French. Psychoanalyse) and photosynthesis (<German Photosynthese), as newer scientific terms, couldn't have been in the Greek antiquity, but the words analysis and synthesis, through Latin and then through the medieval and the newer language forms, passed unaltered into the modern languages, where scientists and scholars by using other ancient Greek stems as well produced words like psychoanalysis (<[psycho< psykhē=soul]+analysis), metanalysis and photosynthesis (<[photo<phos=light]+synthesis), chemosynthesis, polysynthesis.

    Ι strongly disagree with the first part of that statement.
    Consequently, where does your disagreement lie? Wasn’t there any accuracy, expressiveness and adaptability in the Greek stems and words that the scientists and scholars used to make new words? Why did they choose them? Or what?
     
    Last edited:

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    χαίρετε, ὧ φίλοι

    Consequently, where does your disagreement lie? Wasn’t there any accuracy, expressiveness and adaptability in the Greek stems and words that the scientists and scholars used to make new words? Why did they choose them? Or what?
    Ioanell (# 42) is quite right in this much, that physicians and scientists from the Renaissance to the present day have resorted to Greek more often than to Latin stems when coining terms for newly discovered phenomena. The chief reasons for this are (a) that classical Greek vocabulary is far richer than Latin (and therefore more precise) in observation of nature—D'Arcy W. Thompson's Glossary of Greek Fishes is a splendid illustration; hence the fact (for example) that LSJ is by some margin fatter than Lewis & Short; and (b) that ancient Greek philosophy and science (which of course in antiquity largely overlapped) had already pointed the way, thanks to the facility with which the language compounds nouns (as modern German does).

    Σ
     

    ioanell

    Senior Member
    Greek
    here we have an old saying that "one should not inspect the teeth of an offered horse"
    ianis, we also have the same saying, a very old one, reading in Greek: "Γάιδαρο τού χαρίζουνε και τον κοιτά στα δόντια" or in another, slightly differentiated, version: "Σε χαρισμένο γάιδαρο [ή άλογο] τα δόντια δεν κοιτάνε", the meaning being "When you are given an important gift, it's foolishness and ungratefulness on your part to look for defects and imperfections on it".
     

    Αγγελος

    Senior Member
    Greek
    As our foreign friends can ascertain, if one looks up a Greek word in a foreign dictionary, one will also see not only one meaning, but meanings corresponding, more or less, in number and in contents to those of the Greek dictionaries (see, for instance, episode, scene).
    [...]
    Consequently, where does your disagreement lie? Wasn’t there any accuracy, expressiveness and adaptability in the Greek stems and words that the scientists and scholars used to make new words? Why did they choose them? Or what?
    It was the word 'accuracy' that I took exception to. It is odd that you should mention the word 'scene', which, as you know, originally meant (and still means) 'tent' in Greek. Of course, our remote ancestors, having invented the theater, needed a word for the scene... and took one that already existed in their language. Likewise, in inventing geometry, they took the existing words 'cube' (=die), 'cone' (=pine cone) and 'sphere' (=ball) and used them to denote the corresponding solids. It was we moderns who specialized those words in their theatrical / mathematical sense.
    My impression is that the words of ancient Greek were no more 'accurate' (=precise) than those of any other language, but that we moderns simply took advantage of their availability and adaptability to coin our modern precise scientific/technical terms.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It was the word 'accuracy' that I took exception to. It is odd that you should mention the word 'scene', which, as you know, originally meant (and still means) 'tent' in Greek. Of course, our remote ancestors, having invented the theater, needed a word for the scene... and took one that already existed in their language. Likewise, in inventing geometry, they took the existing words 'cube' (=die), 'cone' (=pine cone) and 'sphere' (=ball) and used them to denote the corresponding solids. It was we moderns who specialized those words in their theatrical / mathematical sense.
    Very telling points. English has mined Greek for scientific terms. German has (at least in part - I cannot speak for the totality since I have never studied German) adopted the Greek way. English has "hydrogen" while German has "Wasserstoff". Of course the Greeks did not have an ancient language to mine.

    My impression is that the words of ancient Greek were no more 'accurate' (=precise) than those of any other language, but that we moderns simply took advantage of their availability and adaptability to coin our modern precise scientific/technical terms.
    Agreed. No language is more precise than any other; they are just differ in the ways they are precise.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    ianis, we also have the same saying, a very old one, reading in Greek: "Γάιδαρο τού χαρίζουνε και τον κοιτά στα δόντια" or in another, slightly differentiated, version: "Σε χαρισμένο γάιδαρο [ή άλογο] τα δόντια δεν κοιτάνε", the meaning being "When you are given an important gift, it's foolishness and ungratefulness on your part to look for defects and imperfections on it".
    The problem in this case, of course, like you pointed out is that if one wants to follow the more scientifically established theories it may be necessary some examination if one does not want to give the horse away.

    Found an article, although got lost after a while, about the digamma that has some very different opinions including that it entered the latin alphabet as F from the Phoenicians via the Etruscans and not via the Greeks. Unless one believes the Phoenicians were Greeks like it seems to be the case in the alternative theory.
     

    ianis

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    From the text I understood that Latins got it from the Etruscans and these and the Greeks separately from the Phoenicians.

    Η ομοιότητα δεν είναι τυχαία. Το «αγγλικό» γράμμα “F,f” προέρχεται από το λατινικό γράμμα “F,f” το οποίο, με τη σειρά του, προέρχεται από το ετρουσκικό γράμμα “F” που, όπως και το ελληνικό δίγαμμα, προέρχεται εν τέλει από το φοινικικό wāw.




    Οι Ετρούσκοι χρησιμοποίησαν το σύμβολο “F” για να αποδώσουν τον φθόγγο [w/v] και τον συνδυασμό “FH/HF” για να αποδώσουν το τριβόμενο /f/ (η άηχη ποικιλία του ηχηρού /v/). Η ετρουσκική συνήθεια “FH/HF” = /f/ υιοθετήθηκε από τους αρχαίους Ενετούς.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top