I would like to know what is the most correct reconstruction of the Old English pronunciation of Bēowulf, since I have found different transcriptions on the Net ([ˈbeːowuɫf], [ˈbeːo̯wʊlf], [ˈbeːəwʊlf], and so on).
Thanks in advance.
It's not altogether clear what the graphic <o> in these sort of diphthongs represented, because both long, double-length (spelt ēo) and short, single-length (eo) vowels were spelt this way, and a contrast between long and short diphthongs would be very rare typologically, if not exceptional. But then what sort of English vowels would they be if pronounced like normal human vowels? In Middle English they developed exactly like their normal o-less counterparts, apart from a couple of words like choose, lose where the /ēo/ merged with /ō/.
In any case the <o> represents some sort of tongue back raising and/or lip rounding - if this was realised as [eo], then you can just repeat any modern English pronunciation on Forvo; if it instead stood for [øː], here's how that sounds. There was very significant dialectal variation at the time and so both pronunciations likely existed (as well as just [eː] in the south-east). Just don't make the [e] part of [eo] as long as the Old English pronunciation on that website, this sound was hardly triple-length.
The [eːo] transcription is fully equivalent to [eːo̯] because the [o] didn't make a syllable, i.e. it was the same as the second part of the vowel in how. Whether the <u> was [u] or [ʊ] probably didn't matter (as it doesn't e.g. in Spanish), especially between [w] and [ɫ] (the L was definitely dark).
Well, thanks. I've decided [ˈbeːəwʊɫf] because a basic textbook I own transcribes short /u/ as [ʊ] while the long diphthong ēo was transcribed [eeə], which is almost the same as [eːə] or [eːə̯], even if I'm still dubious this reconstruction is correct. The velar [ɫ] seems the most certain thing. Tell me what you think.