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  #1  
Old Mar 2, '07, 1:34 pm
kaygee kaygee is offline
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Default Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?
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  #2  
Old Mar 2, '07, 1:42 pm
PrinceCaspian PrinceCaspian is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Let's see if I sink or swim on this one...


Pronounced: Meh-tah-noy-ah

and: Thay-oh-toh-kus


How did I do?
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  #3  
Old Mar 2, '07, 2:22 pm
wynd wynd is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

I always thought it was "Me-TA-ni-a" and "Thay-o-TO-kos"?
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  #4  
Old Mar 2, '07, 3:11 pm
PrinceCaspian PrinceCaspian is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

well one of us is wrong...
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  #5  
Old Mar 2, '07, 3:17 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaygee View Post
Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?
I'm not wanting to suggest that you're wrong to feel as you do, but it's a fact that the pronunciation of words changes over time - this is a feature of living languages. The pronunciation of many words in English has actually changed over the course of the thousand and more years the language has been in existence.

Possibly some of these experts may know something about the way the language was pronounced way back when?

Not to mention different accents emanating from different regions of Greece? I know when I learned French in school my first teacher, having been taught by a native French speaker who was Belgian rather than French, had a couple of very odd and distinctly un-French pronunciations. These were passed on to us and would never have been corrected had we not been fortunate enough to have a native French speaker from France itself in our final year.

On the other hand, some of us are just cruddy at learning to speak foreign languages, no matter how hard we try. Cut them some slack
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  #6  
Old Mar 2, '07, 3:50 pm
Melchior Melchior is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaygee View Post
Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?

My Greek wife has shared your feelings until recently when she started studying Koine Greek. What she discovered is that modern Greek has greatly reduced the vowel sounds of the several versions of ancient and early middle aged Greek to only 5 sounds. So some of the scholarly pronunciations do not sound like modern Greek. We have had to battle my well meaning Greek MIL who was born in Greece and came here as a child correcting my homeschooled daughters pronunciation of words she is learning in her koine/ancient Greek studies. The problem is my MIL and most Greeks who have this pet peeve are mistaken because they know a much simpler form of Greek that has far fewer sounds and nuances. In fact it has far fewer words. My wife had to swallow this pill hard but now totally gets it.

On the other hand it does make even me cringe when I hear agape pronounced like Ah-gap-ee. And other similar things that are just sloppy.

But really, when insisting Koine or Attic Greek be pronounced like the greatly simplified modern Greek is like asking Middle English scholars to pronounce middle Englilsh words with a Boston or Chicago accent.

In fact if you go to Greece, you are not likely to understand most of the Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church. Many Greeks are calling for the Liturgy to be done with modern Greek.

Mel
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  #7  
Old Mar 2, '07, 6:37 pm
yinekka yinekka is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

As a Greek descent Catholic I find it amusing to listen to the mispronunciations. Perhaps the apologists who learnt Greek didn't learn it from Greek speakers or perhaps they have a tin ear. Like someone else said, cut them some slack.

I don't get offended when a Greek mispronounces English, I am more interested in what the person is saying rather than how a non native speaker is saying it.
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  #8  
Old Mar 3, '07, 5:07 am
kaygee kaygee is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melchior View Post
In fact if you go to Greece, you are not likely to understand most of the Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church. Many Greeks are calling for the Liturgy to be done with modern Greek.
The pronunciation I'm looking for is the pronunciation that is used in the Divine Liturgy and in Greek seminaries, not the Erasmian "scholarly?" that is used in Protestant seminaries.

BTW to Wynd . . . except not quite Thay-o-TO-kos, more Theo-TO-kos.

Sorry I didn't answer sooner, I was running late for the Akathist last evening, where I could chant to the Theo-TO-kos, not the "theAdakas" Not going to name names here, because I love that particular scholar's books, BUT I cringe when I hear him on radio or tv.
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  #9  
Old Mar 3, '07, 5:28 am
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaygee View Post
Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?
You see, they go for classical Greek. The difference in pronunciation is vast between classical and modern Greek, not unlike the difference in grammar, syntax and meanings of words. Therefore it is not so correct to use modern Greek pronunciation with classical Greek. As I learnt my Greek, it was understood classical and modern were like Latin and Italian: and we don't use Italian pronunciation in Latin. Of course, these days, long after school, my ancient Greek is poor and my modern is non-existent, but I can record some Attic for comparison.
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  #10  
Old Mar 3, '07, 6:30 am
kaygee kaygee is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

I don't think anyone really knows how Greek or Latin was pronounced by the ancients, but if a certain pronunciation comes down to us in the hymnody and liturgy of the ancient Churches, why not use that pronunciation across the board. . . it's more likely to be closer to the original Greek or Latin.

I was one of the fortunate few whose high school requirements included acquiring a knowledge of both classical Greek and Latin. It was a private Protestant high school. I continued my studies in Latin into undergraduate studies in college, then, as a graduate student, picked up on the Greek again.

In graduate school, I began attending a Greek Orthodox Church, where I was able to follow along with the service as long as I had the printed text in front of me. It took awhile to unlearn the bad habits picked up in my "scholarly" studies, but I can now chant in passable Greek. Ditto, many years later, now that I'm Catholic with Latin.

It seems to me that the pronunciations that have passed down to us through the Liturgy and the Hymnody of the Churches, so different from how the vulgar usages of the languages have developed, are probably the most accurate, and are the ones that should be used in the oral teachings of Catholic scholars. If nothing else, hearing a techical term pronounced in the same way it is pronounced in the Liturgy, could spark a connection in the student's mind that would otherwise not be noticed.
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  #11  
Old Mar 3, '07, 6:50 am
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chevalier chevalier is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

I can sort of switch between four different methods of pronouncing Latin (Vulgate, restituted, traditional English, the "Celtic" I normally use), so I guess there's no problem learning an additional pattern of pronunciation for liturgical purposes. Still, if the original of the New Testament contains some vowel sounds extinct in modern Greek, I don't see why I shouldn't pronounce them as they are but simply, if I "know" (overstatement) the kind of Greek it was written in. Then again with my Attic, it's not like I "know" koine.
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  #12  
Old Mar 3, '07, 6:55 am
Semper Fi Semper Fi is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaygee View Post
Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?
Church Latin is much different than Classical Latin.
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  #13  
Old Mar 3, '07, 8:12 am
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Fidelia Fidelia is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

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Originally Posted by Semper Fi View Post
Church Latin is much different than Classical Latin.
Yes it is. And modern greek is different from classical and koine greek. I am in a classical greek class currently, and a girl in the class if fluent in modern greek. they are different.
In both languages grammar and pronunciation changed over time. So what sounds like a "wrong" pronunciation to you, is just a correct pronunciation from a different time period.
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  #14  
Old Mar 3, '07, 8:14 am
Morning_Star15 Morning_Star15 is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by chevalier View Post
You see, they go for classical Greek. The difference in pronunciation is vast between classical and modern Greek, not unlike the difference in grammar, syntax and meanings of words. Therefore it is not so correct to use modern Greek pronunciation with classical Greek. As I learnt my Greek, it was understood classical and modern were like Latin and Italian: and we don't use Italian pronunciation in Latin. Of course, these days, long after school, my ancient Greek is poor and my modern is non-existent, but I can record some Attic for comparison.
As someone who's studying Classical Latin, I think Ecclesiastical Latin has a very Italian pronunciation - for example, softening "c"s and "g"s and using the "v" sound is considered to not have been done in Classical Latin, but this came in from Italian influence.

As for Greek pronunciation, I think we need to make a distinction between pronunciation that's considered acceptable in a dialect of Greek, or in Classical or Erasmian Greek, and pronunciation that involves a person just trying to pronounce a word without any knowledge whatsoever of how it's actually supposed to be pronounced.

In the latter case, I agree that the speaker should do some research into how the word is supposed to be pronounced, but in the former case, who are we to say that their pronunciation is "wrong"? Those of us in the West have no obligation whatsoever to use the pronunciation of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. I'm studying Classical Greek, and we use the Erasmian rules of pronunciation - I don't think this pronunciation is any less acceptable than what's used in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Outside of this Liturgy, there's no "correct" pronunciation of Greek, IMO, as long as, as I said before, it's the correct pronunciation relative to an existent dialect/ form of Greek.
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  #15  
Old Mar 3, '07, 8:18 am
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Fidelia Fidelia is offline
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Default Re: Pet Peeve: Greek pronunciation

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaygee View Post
Why is it that many Catholic scripture scholars on radio and TV consistently mispronounce Greek terms? As one who is Greek-Catholic, it hurts my ears! Greek is a living language -- why not take the time to learn how Greek speakers pronounce such words as Theotokos, Metanoia, etc.?

I've worked hard to unlearn my English schoolgirl Latin and to use Latin the way it is pronounced in the Western Church. Couldn't the Romans show the same courtesy to Christians of the East?
The Romans spoke Latin. The Christians changed the Classical Latin of the Romans, not vice-versa. The CHurch did not invent Latin.
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