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The Greek Alphabet And Pronunciation




Greek 101, Fall 2008 Brian Lanter, T.A. THE GREEK ALPHABET AND PRONUNCIATION Derivation. The Greek alphabet is the precursor of every European alphabet now in use (even for non-Indo-European languages), and several no longer used, including Runic, Gothic and Glagolitic. The precursor of the Greek alphabet was Phoenician script (consonants only), which was based on a north Semitic linear script. Linear script for writing Semitic languages, composed of simple shapes, lines and squiggles as opposed to Sumerian cuneiform (used also by the Indo-European Hittites) or Egyptian hieroglyphics, had appeared in the Middle East by the Late Bronze Age (before 1200 BCE). Outside of Europe, various Indo-Iranian languages also have alphabets based on a north Semitic script. Modern Persian, for instance, is written with Arabic letters, derived from Aramaic, the most important north Semitic script. The precursor of the various Indic alphabets is the Brāhmī alphabet, whose precursor was also north Semitic. Greek speakers – we don't know which – having abandoned (or perhaps, if they were invaders, never having learned) the ill-adapted Mycenaean Linear B syllabary, derived a new alphabet somewhere around 800 BCE from a Phoenician model. The Greeks and Indians both (independently, as far as we know) adapted the Semitic consonantal system into a system of vowels and consonants. The Greeks simply took the names and forms of some Semitic consonants with no Greek counterparts and started using them as vowels. The Greeks also invented four characters – F X Y W – for non-Semitic phonemes, which they tacked onto the end of the new alphabet. The order of the borrowed letters through "T" (tau) was essentially the same as the Phoenician, but we do not know how that order originally arose. Likewise the names of the borrowed letters were based on the Phoenician names, slightly changed to accommodate Greek phonology. Our shorter English letter names are based on Latin names which were based on Etruscan names. Some of the Semitic-derived shapes which lacked bilateral symmetry (like K) got rotated on their vertical axes when the Greeks changed from writing mainly right-to-left (the Semitic way) to writing mainly left-to-right. The tables on the following two pages (from Hans Jensen, Sign, Symbol and Script, 1969) show the derivation of the precursors of the classical Ionic alphabet of Miletus which Athens adopted in 403 BCE (shortly after losing the war), and of the classical Latin alphabet. Regional variations between eastern and western Greek alphabets, transmitted to the Romans through the Etruscans, resulted in some of the otherwise puzzling differences between the Latin alphabet, which with two later additions (J and W) is our own, and the Ionic alphabet, which eventually became standard for all Greeks. See the comments below on each letter for some fascinating details on how we got all our letters in their present order. Typography. The ancient Greeks wrote and carved only the forms which we now call capital letters, and not always very neatly, as you can see by looking at the inscriptions on some vases. Greek monumental (carved stone) inscription style tended to be very plain, with constant line width and slight or no serifs, compared to typical Roman monumental lettering, which tended to have varying line width and pronounced serifs. In the first typographical font shown below (SPIonic) the style of the capital letters is more like ancient Greek monumental style, without serifs. In the second font shown below (Times New Roman), the style of the capital letters is heavily influenced by Roman monumental style, with serifs. The letters V, J and ` (named digamma, qoppa and sampi), shown shaded, were not present in the standard IonianAttic alphabet by 403 BCE, but were still used as numerals. Western Greeks kept V and J, which passed into the Etruscan alphabet and thence into the Latin alphabet as our letters F and Q. A B G D E V Z H Q I K L M N C O P J R S T U F X Y W ` Α Β Γ Δ Ε ú Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π û Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω ü The lower case letters ("minuscule" script) were developed around the 9th century CE by the Byzantines for handwriting. By convention, modern publishers (starting in Renaissance Italy) mostly use the lower case medieval Byzantine script, with capital letters to indicate proper names and chapter or section beginnings. In modern typography, the lower case forms parallel the aesthetic differences of the capital letters in their respective fonts. For assistance in forming the lower case letters, see the handwriting guide from your instructor. a b g d e z h q i k l m n c o p r s t u f x y w α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω Pronunciation. Ancient Greek language now consists of a flat visual medium, namely Linear B and alphabetic writing. This presents a problem because we are accustomed to learn language through speech first, regarding writing (at least when we are young) as a representation of spoken language. Among human languages by which parents first communicate to hearing children (as opposed, for instance, to secret codes, machine languages or human-machine interface languages), speech always precedes writing in the learning process. Although it would be possible to learn ancient Greek as a visual code language, never pronouncing it, there are some very good reasons to attempt pronunciation: • it's easier to learn with sound – just try memorizing large matrices of visual symbol combinations (such as writing or musical notation) with no sound attached; • since Greek speech preceded Greek writing, making sense out of ancient Greek spelling often requires reconstructing their phonetics and phonology; • we need to communicate ancient Greek words to each other in class; and • it's fun to at least imagine how they sounded. 4 The sound of language was very important to the ancient Greeks, who wrote prose for reading out loud and poetry for reciting or singing out loud. Silent reading did not become a common practice until at least the Byzantine period, maybe not until well into the Middle Ages. WARNING: PHONETIC AND PHONOLOGICAL DATA ABOUT ANCIENT GREEK ARE INHERENTLY SPECULATIVE As it happens, we have a lot of evidence about the phonetics and phonology of ancient Greek. We have fragments of commentary on phonology from the 5th century BCE on, detailed intellectual discussions of Greek language starting with Plato's Cratylus, systematic analyses from Hellenistic, Roman period and Byzantine grammarians and commentary from Latin authors. Ancient Greek words were transliterated into ancient Latin, Persian, Armenian, Egyptian, Sanskrit, etc., and vice versa. Ancient spelling is a reflection (not always direct, of course) of ancient pronunciation. Modern linguistics has established a lot of credibility in being able to analyze the course of phonetic changes, especially in a continuously attested language like Greek. Tradition also plays some role, but this is as unreliable in linguistics as in history. "There is no guarantee that the tradition has not arisen precisely in order to explain a linguistic, religious or political datum."1 For this class, you must pick a system for pronouncing ancient Greek.2 The textbook presents both Attic and koine (see below) pronunciations. I require only that you use pronunciations with some scholarly justification for any period before the Byzantine Age, the start of which is dated anywhere from Constantine's establishment of his capital at Byzantium in 330 CE to the end of Justinian's reign in 565 CE. By the time of Justinian, Greek pronunciation had changed enough that poets could not write in the classical meters without deliberate archaizing, and scholars had to rename some letters to avoid confusion. Since pronunciation changes over long periods at different rates in different places, this gives you a lot of freedom. My own preference is to attempt to pronounce Homer and the classical poets with classical Attic pronunciation, and revert to mostly koine, the more commonly taught pronunciation, for prose in general and poets of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods (see the second paragraph following for definitions of these terms). To some extent, I choose the pronunciation (usually older) which helps me with spelling. If our lack of precise knowledge about pronunciation causes you anxiety, remember that Greek, like English, had several dialects which differed noticeably (we now notice mainly the 1 M. I. Finley, Ancient History: Evidence and Models. New York, Viking Penguin Inc., 1985, p. 17. 2 In modern Greece, most people and even many scholars (somewhat to our amazement) use modern pronunciation for ancient Greek. In the rest of Europe, the use of reconstructed ancient pronunciation dates back at least as far as the 1528 treatise by Erasmus, De recta Latini et Graeci sermonis pronuntiatione (On the proper pronunciation of Latin and Greek speech). 5 spelling differences) and yet were mutually intelligible. Dorians often used Α [Y] where Attic used Η [e+]. The Ionians and Lesbians didn't use initial aspiration [h], much like Cockneys in English – but when Eliza Doolittle says that in " 'artford, 'arrisford and 'ampshire, 'urricanes 'ardly 'appen," it takes only a moment of adjustment to understand her. Think about Ross Perot saying "there is no doubt in my mind." His long "i" [æ:] in "my" and "mind" is quite a different phoneme from the long "i" diphthong [aNi] of most non-Southern American dialects, yet is perfectly intelligible to native speakers of English. So even if we don't know the exact qualities of ancient Greek vowels, we can come close enough to feel we have some idea of the sound of ancient Greek. The beginning and ending dates of named historical periods are conventional but somewhat variable and depend on the field of study. Historians of art, literature, politics, etc. don't always use the same name with the same dates. On the pronunciation chart provided, the term "classical" refers to the period between the Greek defeat of the second Persian invasion in 479 BCE and the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. The term "koine" (from h9 koinh_ dia&lektoj) means the "common" dialect, based on the Attic-Ionic dialect, which began to cohere and change after Philip II of Macedon ended southern Greek independence, and when the conquests and colonizing of Alexander and his successors made Greek the universal language of commerce, learning and government in the Eastern Mediterranean. Koine is the Greek of the "Hellenistic" age, which in political terms was the period from the death of Alexander until the Roman reduction of Greece proper (completed in 146 BCE with the dissolution of the Achaean League and the sack of Corinth) and of the Hellenized east (completed in the 1st century BCE). The division between dates BCE and dates CE has no linguistic significance whatsoever. Koine continued to change in the Roman, or Imperial, period. Many Greek writers in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE (the "Second Sophistic"), such as Plutarch and Lucian, imitated the classical Attic dialect. But the comedies of Menander, the Septuagint and the New Testament, the histories of Polybius and Diodorus Siculus, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, etc., were written in koine. Atticism has remained a powerful pressure on the Greek language, especially written expression, through the present day. The following pronunciation charts and descriptions of individual letters use these symbols: [ ] brackets surround International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols, which stand for actual sounds. See the IPA chart on the following page. / / slash marks enclose phonemes which cannot be pronounced in isolation (this is a linguistic convention). See the text description for English equivalents. + long mark indicates a sound of relatively long duration (not a different vowel sound) . h superscript indicates aspiration of the preceding plosive ("plosive" = "stop"). N ligature under two letters indicates they are pronounced together with no gap. 6 means "becomes," in this case indicating that the change took place over a substantial period, or at an undetermined time. 6 THE INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET (revised to 1993, updated 1996) CONSONANTS (PULMONIC) Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Post alveolar Retroflex p b m õ Plosive Nasal Trill Tap or Flap Fricative Lateral fricative Approximant Lateral approximant t d µ n r | F B f v T D s  z S Z Ò L √ ® l Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal Ê ∂ c Ô k g q G / = ≠ N – R « ß Ω ç J x V X  © ? h H ’  j ¥ ˜ K Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a voiced consonant. Shaded areas denote articulations judged impossible. Clicks > ù ! ¯ ≤ VOWELS Bilabial Dental (Post)alveolar Palatoalveolar Alveolar lateral ∫ Î ú ƒ Ï Bilabial Dental/alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Front Ejectives Voiced implosives ’ p’ t’ k’ s’ Close Examples: i Central y Bilabial Close-mid Dental/alveolar Velar Open-mid Alveolar fricative OTHER SYMBOLS ∑ Voiceless labial-velar fricative Ç Û Alveolo-palatal fricatives w   Voiced labial-velar approximant » Alveolar lateral flap Á Voiced labial-palatal approximant Simultaneous S and x Ì Voiceless epiglottal fricative Affricates and double articulations  ¿  Voiced epiglottal fricative can be represented by two symbols joined by a tie bar if necessary.  ÷   Epiglottal plosive Open 3 Ó 7 ¶ ™ 2   · + ` 8 ±   n9 d9 Voiced s3 t 3 Aspirated tÓ dÓ More rounded O7 Less rounded O¶ Advanced u™ Retracted e2 Centralized e· Mid-centralized e+ Syllabic n` Non-syllabic e8 Rhoticity ´± a± ª e ∏ ´ E { ‰ å œ a ” " Æ … Ú ( kp ts N( bª aª 1 Dental t 1 d1 Creaky voiced b0 a0 ¡ Apical t ¡ d¡ Linguolabial t £  d£ 4 Laminal t 4 d4 Labialized tW dW ) Nasalized e) Palatalized t∆ d∆ ˆ Nasal release dˆ Velarized t◊  d◊ ¬ Lateral release d¬ Pharyngealized t≥   d≥ } No audible release d} Velarized or pharyngealized : Raised e6  ( ®6 = voiced alveolar fricative) Lowered e§ ( B§ = voiced bilabial approximant) Advanced Tongue Root e5 Retracted Tongue Root e∞ Breathy voiced 0 £ W ∆ ◊ ≥ ù 6 § 5 ∞ U ¨ u Ø o ø O A Å SUPRASEGMENTALS Diacritics may be placed above a symbol with a descender, e.g. Voiceless IY e P ( 9 È Ë Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. Í DIACRITICS Back ò CONSONANTS (NON-PULMONIC) Primary stress Secondary stress ÆfoUn´"tIS´n * ù ≤ . ≈ e _ e! e@ e~ e— Õ õ e… eÚ e* Long Half-long Extra-short Minor (foot) group Major (intonation) group Syllable break ®i.œkt Linking (absence of a break) TONES AND WORD ACCENTS LEVEL CONTOUR Extra Rising or & or high â ê î ô û High Mid Low Extra low Downstep Upstep e e$ e% eÞ e& ã à ä ë ü ï ñ$ Falling High rising Low rising Risingfalling Global rise Global fall NAMES AND SOUNDS OF GREEK LETTERS modern typographical forms classical name A a a!lfa B b post-classical name (if different) Byzantine pronunciation (if different) Modern Greek pronunciation [Y] or [Y+] [Y] [a] bh=ta [b] [v] [v] Gg ga&mma [g] [p] [p] Dd de/lta [d] [ð] [ð] Ee ei], e1 e2 yilo/n [e] [e] [e] V Vau= di/gamma [w] Zz zh=ta [zNd] ÷ [z] [z] Hh h]ta [h] or [e+] [e+] [i] [i] Qq qh=ta [th] [th] ÷ [›] [›] [›] Ii iw~ta [i] [i+] [i] [i] Kk ka&ppa [k] [k] Ll la&bda [l] [l] Mm mu= [m] [m] Nn nu= [n] [n] Cc cei= ci= [khNs] [kNs] Oo ou1, o1 o2 mikro/n [o] []] or [o]* Pp pei= pi= [p] [p] la&mbda classical pronunciation 8 koine pronunciation (if different) [e] ÷ [e] [z] NAMES AND SOUNDS OF GREEK LETTERS modern typographical forms post-classical name (if different) classical name J ko/ppa [k] - Rr r(o [r] or [r;] [r] Ss si/gma [s] or [z] [s] Tt tau= [t] [t] Uu u3 u2 yilo/n [y] or [y+] [y] ÷ [i] [i] [i] Ff fei= fi= [ph] [ph] ÷ [f] [f] [f] Xx xei= xi= [kh] [kh] ÷ [x] [x] [x] [ç] Yy yei= yi= [phNs] Ww w} w@ me/ga []+] ` sa&n sa&mpi [s] classical pronunciation koine pronunciation (if different) Byzantine pronunciation (if different) Modern Greek pronunciation [pNs] []+] ÷ [o+] [o] []] or [o]* *Both of these IPA transcriptions appear in Oxford publications. 9 GREEK DIPHTHONGS & DIGRAPHS diphthong: classical pronunciation koine pronunciation Byzantine pronunciation Modern greek pronunciation ai [aNi] [aNi] ÷ [e:] [e] [e] long ai [a:Ni] [a:] [e] - au [aNu] [aNu] ÷ [av] [av] [av] [af] ei [e] [e] ÷ [i:] [i] [i] eu [eNu] [eNu] ÷ [ev] [ev] [ev] [ef] hi [e:Ni] [eNi] ÷ [i] [i] - hu [eNu] [eNu] ÷ [ev] [ev] [iv] [if] oi [oNi] [oNi] [y:] [i] [i] ou [o:u] ÷ [u:] [u:] [u] [u] ui [uNj] [yNj] ÷ [y:] [i] [i] wi []:Ni] []:] [o] - gg [õg] [õg] [õg] [õg] gk [õk] [õk] [õk] [g] [õg] [õk] gc [õks] [õks] [õks] [õks] gx [õkh] [õkh] ÷ [õx] [õx] [õx] [õç] digraph: 10 ORIGINS AND SOUNDS OF LETTERS A a a!lfa Phoenician &ālef,1 glottal plosive [§]. Classical Greek open, back, tense vowel [Y] as American bob. Alpha could be long or short; the long alpha was just longer in duration than the short, not a different quality of vowel. The Greeks changed the Phoenician letter name slightly because in ancient Greek phonology, no word could end with a consonant sound other than /n/, /r/ or /s/.2 So the Greeks adapted many of the Phoenician letter names by switching the final vowel and consonant, or leaving off the final consonant, or adding a vowel after the final consonant. B b bh=ta Phoenician bēt. Classical Greek voiced bilabial plosive [b], as English bet. Byzantine voiced labio-dental fricative [v], as English vet. G g ga&mma Phoenician gīmel. Classical Greek voiced velar plosive [g], as English get. Byzantine voiced velar fricative [γ], as Spanish agua (some dialects). Also in Greek, a velar nasal [õ] when it occurs before the velar plosives g, as American anger; k, as American inky; and x, as American income; and before the bilabial nasal m, as American hangman. The velar nasal may have been called a!gma. Why does our letter C occupy the space of the Greek G? I'm so glad you asked. In Etruscan, the voiced plosives /b/, /d/ and /g/ were either non-contrastive or non-existent, i.e., the Etruscans didn't need or use the distinct sounds which the Greeks wrote as B, D and G. So the Etruscans efficiently used G as an allophone (a variant of a phoneme) of the voiceless velar plosive /k/ (English "hard c") when it occurred before the vowels /i/ and /e/; they used K before /a/ and J before /u/. G came to be shaped like a C (see the Latin precursor chart). When the Romans borrowed the Etruscan alphabet, they kept the J for their labio-velar phoneme /kw/, spelled QU. Since K was redundant with Latin C, they used K in place of C only for a very few traditional spellings beginning KA and for several abbreviations; and since Etruscan had no separate letter for the voiced /g/, they used C for both the voiceless /k/ and voiced /g/ sounds. For the position of G in the Latin alphabet, see the paragraph following zh=ta. 1 As far as I can tell, we have found no written record of the early Phoenician letter names. Scholars have reconstructed them mainly from the names as preserved in Greek and Hebrew. 2 The only exceptions being the /k/ in e0k and ou0k, which seldom appear alone or at the end of a clause. 11 D d de/lta Phoenician dālet. Classical Greek voiced alveolar plosive [d], as English bed. Byzantine voiced dental fricative [ð] as American bother. E e ei] (Byzantine e2 yilo/n) Phoenician hē. Classical Greek close-mid front tense vowel [e], like American English bait, but without any glide to the /i/ sound. The long form of this sound, written ++ up to the classical period, came to have the same pronunciation and spelling as the diphthong +3. By the 2nd century CE the diphthong !3 had come to have the same sound as +, so the Byzantine grammarians distinguished them as ai di/fqoggoj ("diphthong ai") and e2 yilo/n ("bare e"). For classical Greek purposes we should not be calling it "epsilon," but the name is so engrained that everyone uses it anyway. V Vau= or di/gamma Phoenician wāw. Originally called by the Phoenician name, later called di/gamma because of its shape. Not written in classical Attic, but written in other dialects such as Boeotian until the 3rd century BCE. In Aeolic, Homeric (Aeolic-Ionic), Boeotian and other dialects, it was a voiced labio-velar glide [w], as English wet. It retained its position as the numeral 6 in alphabetic numbering systems invented around the 5th century BCE. Does digamma have something to do with our letter F? In a word, yes. The Greeks didn't have an /f/ sound until post-classical times. Our friends the Etruscans, however, did have an /f/ sound and originally spelled it VH, apparently because of the similarity of their voiceless /f/ to a voiceless aspirated /w/, like English initial "wh." The Romans left F in place to represent the Latin /f/ sound, while V dropped out of the Attic-Ionic dialect from which koine descended. Z z zh=ta Phoenician zajin. Pre-classical Greek voiced alveolar affricate [dz], similar to the consonant cluster [dz] in English adz. Classical Greek consonant cluster [zd] by metathesis (exchange of phoneme order), as English wisdom. Byzantine voiced alveolar fricative [z], as English biz. So why is our Z at the end of the alphabet, and how did G get to seventh position? Easy. Go back to gamma and review why Latin C is where Greek G was. In the late 4th or 3rd century BCE the Romans added a slash mark to their C to distinguish the voiced /g/ sound, and stuck the new G in the seventh position, the slot formerly occupied by the Etruscan -, for which the Romans had no use at the time – in Etruscan it was a voiceless [ts]. But around the 1st century BCE, when the Romans had borrowed a great many Greek words, they decided they needed a letter to represent the sound of Greek zeta, which by then had lost its /d/ element and was just [z]. Very practically, the Romans tacked Z back onto the end of their alphabet (see also the note under upsilon about how we got our Y at the same time). 12 H h h]ta Phoenician £ēt, voiceless pharyngeal fricative [£]. Originally h[ta, classical Attic (before the alphabet reform in 403 BCE) voiceless glottal fricative [h], as English hat. The Ionians and Aeolians did not use initial [h] and used the letter instead for one of their vowels. In Attic after 403 BCE, the letter had its Ionian value: long, mid-open, front, lax vowel [e:] as English bet (but longer in duration). Byzantine high front vowel [i], as English beet. After / became a vowel, a half / | was used to signify initial aspiration (around 300 BCE). The two halves of the old H, | and }, became the rough and smooth breathing marks, ) and ( . If / used to be an /h/ sound but came to stand for a vowel in Ionian, why does the letter now appear to correspond again to the Latin and English /h/? Also easy. The Etruscans borrowed the Greek alphabet from western Greeks, who did pronounce initial /h/, and in whose alphabet, as in classical Attic, / was still /h/. So the Romans used it likewise. Q q qh=ta Phoenician ṭ ēt, pharyngealized alveolar plosive [t¨]. Classical Greek aspirated voiceless alveolar plosive [th], as English tin. Byzantine voiceless interdental fricative [›], as English bath. This seems like a useful letter. Why isn't it in our alphabet? Two reasons. First, because native Latin (like English) never differentiated between two words solely by the difference between an aspirated [th] and an unaspirated [t] – that difference was not "distinctive" (as they say in linguistics). So they simply left the Greek and Etruscan Q out of their own alphabet. Mind you, the Romans could hear the difference in Greek pronunciation, and by the middle of the 2nd century BCE, were accurately transcribing Greek words containing an aspirated [th] with Latin "TH." Second, Latin (unlike English) had no interdental fricative at all. Although the classical Greek aspirated [th] mutated into the koine interdental fricative [›], the Romans continued to spell it "TH" and never added (or restored) a letter to imitate the foreign sound, as they did for Y and Z. Old English had interdental fricatives, for which scribes added two interchangeable letters to the Latin alphabet, ð (eth or edh) and þ (thorn), but the traditional Latin spelling TH prevailed. I i i0w~ta Phoenician yōd. Greek close front tense vowel [i], as American beet. Could be long or short in duration. K k ka&ppa Phoenician kāf. Greek unaspirated,voiceless, velar plosive [k], as English skit. In the preposition e0k, it probably assimilated to the following consonant, becoming voiced [g] before voiced consonants and aspirated [kh] before aspirated consonants. 13 L l la&bda, later la&mbda Phoenician lāmed. Greek voiced, alveolar, lateral approximant [l], as English let. M m mu= Phoenician mēm. Greek voiced, bilabial nasal [m], as English met. N n nu= Phoenician nūn. Greek voiced, alveolar nasal [n], as English net. C c cei=, later ci= Phoenician sāmek. Greek affricate [kNs] or [khNs], as English bucks. Present in the Corinthian and Ionic alphabets from early times, the Athenians added it to the Attic alphabet in 403 BCE. In older Attic, the /ks/ sound was written out with two consonants: KS, XS or GS. All right, so what happened to C and why do we write the /ks/ sound with X? Again, the Etruscans borrowed a western Greek alphabet which had no letter C. The Etruscans had no separate letter for [kNs]; they had a suspiciously X-shaped letter at the position of C in their alphabet, but apparently it corresponded to the fricative [ • ] (English "sh"), which did not exist in Greek. The western Greeks used the letter O, positioned where it is in the eastern Attic-Ionic alphabet, to write the sound [kNs], and the Romans eventually (not until the 1st century BCE) borrowed that letter, which had no Etruscan counterpart. The western Greek Y stood for [kh], which was spelled X in Attic-Ionic (see the chart of Latin precursors). O o ou], o! (Byzantine o@ mikro/n) Phoenician #ayin, voiced pharyngal fricative. Classical Greek short, close-mid, back, tense, rounded vowel [o], as American English boat (but with no glide to an /u/ sound). The distinction between long and short vowels and between the sounds of omicron and omega had disappeared by the Byzantine period, so the Byzantine grammarians distinguished O from W by calling them o@ mikro/n (small O) and w} me/ga (large O). For classical Greek purposes we should not be calling it "omicron," but the difference in both quality and quantity of the classical Attic omicron and omega are difficult for us to hear, so the Byzantine names are convenient. P p pei=, later pi= Phoenician pē. Greek unaspirated, voiceless, bilabial plosive [p], as English spin. 14 J ko/ppa Phoenician qōf. Pre-classical back allophone of /k/, used before back vowels /o/ and /u/. The letter J apparently dropped out of use in Greece because the use of the back allophone was automatic and non-distinctive, but it retained its position as the numeral 90. The Etruscans borrowed the western Greek alphabet before J dropped out, and did use the letter, and it became the Latin Q. R r r(w~ Phoenician rēš. Classical Greek voiced alveolar trill [r] as Spanish perro, or (probably) voiceless alveolar trill in initial and sometimes medial position. The r was always aspirated r( when initial, and sometimes when medial in double rr(. Aspirated r( was probably a voiceless trill, but when aspiration disappeared after the Hellenistic period, it became voiced. S s j si/gma Phoenician šīn. Greek voiceless alveolar fricative [s], as English best, except before voiced consonants when it was voiced [z], as English bismuth. T t tau= Phoenician tāw. Greek unaspirated, voiceless alveolar plosive [t], as English sting. The Greek /t/ sound may have been dental, as in Spanish, but there isn't much difference. U u u[ (Byzantine u] yilo/n) Phoenician wāw (see also Vau=). Pre-classical Greek close, back, tense, rounded vowel [u], as English boot. Classical Greek long or short, close, front, tense, rounded vowel [y], as French butte or German Bütt. Byzantine close, front, tense, unrounded vowel [i], as English beet. Between the 4th and 10th centuries CE, the diphthong oi had come to have the same [i] sound as u, so the Byzantine grammarians distinguished them as oi di/fqoggoj ("diphthong oi") and u] yilo/n ("bare u"). For classical Greek purposes we should not be calling it "upsilon," but the name is so engrained that everyone uses it anyway. Why does our English "Y " look like the Greek upsilon? Well, for a long time the Romans transliterated Greek words having an upsilon with the Etruscan/Latin V, which had the [u] sound of the pre-classical Greek upsilon. But the sound of the Greek letter changed to [y], and in the 1st century BCE, the Romans added upsilon as a separate letter to transcribe Greek words. The Romans tacked the new letter onto the end of the Latin alphabet just before the restored Z (see the note under zeta about how Z, once in seventh position, got to the end of the alphabet). At some point, after the Greek Y [y] started sounding like a Latin I [i], Latin scholars 15 started calling it "i graeca" to avoid confusion, hence its modern name in several languages, like French (i grec), Spanish (i griega) and Italian (i greca). F f fei=, later fi= No Semitic precursor. Classical Greek aspirated, voiceless, bilabial plosive [ph], as English pin (compare to non-initial /p/ in spin, Greek p). Byzantine voiceless labio-dental fricative [f], as English fin. X x xei=, later xi= No Semitic precursor. Eastern classical Greek aspirated, voiceless, velar plosive [kh], as English kin (compare to non-initial /k/ in skin). Byzantine voiceless palatal fricative [ç], as German ich, or velar fricative [x], as German Bach. In the western Greek alphabet from which the Romans borrowed some non-Etruscan letters, the letter X stood for the sound [kNs], and so it did in Latin. Y y yei=, later yi= No Semitic precursor. Greek consonant cluster [pNs] or [phNs], as English bops. Present in the Ionic and Corinthian alphabets from early times, the Athenians added it to the Attic alphabet in 403 BCE. In older Attic, the sound was written out as two consonants: PS, FS or BS. W w w} (Byzantine w} me/ga) No Semitic precursor. Classical Greek open-mid, back, lax rounded vowel, as English board. Byzantine close-mid, back, tense, rounded vowel [o], as English boat. See omicron. For classical Greek purposes we should not be calling it "omega," but the difference in both quality and quantity of the classical Attic omega and omicron are difficult for us to hear, so the Byzantine names are a necessity. ` sa&n (Doric) or sa&mpi Phoenician šādē. Pre-classical Greek voiceless, alveolar fricative [s], as English best. Used interchangeably with sigma for the /s/ sound. It dropped out of the alphabet but kept its position as the numeral 900. 16 leftovers Dare one ask, where did English J and W come from? – these are the only letters in the contemporary English alphabet not explained in the preceding materials. These have nothing to do with Greek, but, since you ask: The voiced affricate (meaning a stop followed by release in a continuant position) J [dN¥] represents a Latin consonantal or semi-vowel I, which was a voiceless palatal approximant [j]. In Old French, this came to be pronounced [dN¥], like the "soft" G in Italian.3 Old English hybridized with Old French, starting with the Norman invasion in the 11th century, to produce Middle English. Up to the 17th century, words beginning with this French sound were spelled with I and readers just had to know when initial I was pronounced [dN¥]. Then typographers adopted an old form of minuscule "i" with a tail to stand for "j" and made up the capital form J. No word which begins with "J" is derived from Old English. Its position in the alphabet is natural, since it was historically regarded merely as a different sound of the letter I. The voiced labial-velar approximant W [w] represents an Old English phoneme, which sounded like the classical Latin consonantal U (or V – those were the same letter). But in the 7th century CE, when the Latin alphabet was adapted to writing Old English, the medieval Latin consonantal U was already pronounced as a bilabial or labial-dental fricative, like our modern V. So English scribes at first used a ligatured UU or VV ("double U") to represent the sound, but then switched to a Runic letter, wynn. But VV had been carried to the continent where it was used in Old French to spell words of Germanic and Celtic origin, and was reintroduced in Britain by Norman scribes. Its position in the alphabet is natural, since it is an adaptation of U or V (the typographical distinction between U and V was not regular in England until the 17th century). 3 You can hear the same phonological process at work in the way some Spanish speakers pronounce the initial "y" in English words like a "j," so for instance, "yes" becomes "jes." 17 BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, W. Sydney, Vox Graeca: A Guide To The Pronunciation Of Classical Greek, third edition. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987. Allen, W. Sydney, Vox Latina: A Guide To The Pronunciation Of Classical Latin, second edition. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1978. Browning, Robert, Medieval and Modern Greek, London, Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1969. Daitz, Stephen, The Pronunciation And Reading Of Ancient Greek: A Practical Guide. New York, Jeffrey Norton Publishers Inc., 1984. Daniels, Peter T. and Bright, William, editors, The World's Writing Systems. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996. Howatson, M. C., editor, The Oxford Companion To Classical Literature, second edition. New York, Oxford University Press, 1989. Jensen, Hans, Sign, Symbol and Script; an account of man's efforts to write, third revised and enlarged edition, translated by George Unwin. New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. Joseph, Brian D., "Greek," in The World's Major Languages, Bernard Comrie, editor. New York, Oxford University Press, 1987. Liddell, Henry George and Scott, Robert, compilers, A Greek-English Lexicon, revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones, with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie, and with the cooperation of many scholars, with a revised supplement. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996. Oxford English Dictionary Online, Oxford University Press: 2nd ed. 1989 (ed. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner), Additions 1993 and 1997 (ed. John Simpson and Edmund Weiner; Michael Proffitt), and 3rd ed. (in progress) (ed. John Simpson). University of New Mexico Zimmerman Library, Albuquerque, New Mexico. <> Pring, T.J., compiler, The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Greek. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986. Sampson, Geoffrey, Writing Systems: A Linguistic Introduction, London, Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1985. Stanford, W. B., The Sound Of Greek: Studies In The Greek Theory And Practice Of Euphony. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967. 18