Proper Pronunciation

During the 16th century, 2 English teachers in Cambridge, Mr Cheke & Mr Smith decided unilaterally to teach the Greek language using the English sounds for the letters instead of the Greek sounds for the letters of the Greek alphabet. This started from a satirical joke play by Erasmus(hence Erasmian) where a lion and a bear mock each other about their pronunciation of Greek. Erasmus who himself never used the so-called Erasmian as he neither invented it, nor did he advocate for a change in the teaching of Greek either.

In fact, in a letter to John Laskaris as reported by John Pickering, “On the Pronunciation of the Greek Language”, Erasmus requests from Laskaris more “Greek native tutors to come fill Professorship roles of the Greek language in western European Universities so that the proper pronunciation of the language can be taught”.

This, of course, did not deter Cheke & Smith(the 2 teachers in Cambridge) from inventing their own Greeklish alphabet based on English, this, after all, is part of the series of the replacement theory we have discussed previously with Potemkin and Tainari of western cultural appropriation and fetish. “You natives need to be the way that we imagine you to be” & “If we need to beat sense into you that your alphabet & music(see Farya Faraji) was originally English, German or just not-Greek, then so be it”.

Cheke & Smith did not just invent Greeklish, they also called it the proper way and derided the native Greek alphabet as the sounds of ‘barbarians’, a practice we witness today among the Erasmian successors of this tradition(barbarian interchanging with “nationalist”). This kind of thing persists to the modern day and is making headway into Greece as well(as proper house slaves), even though the entire theory has been thoroughly debunked by Buth, Teodorsson, Karagounis, Benjamin Kantor and so many more, and even though several non-Greek Classical departments are already using Buth(effectively Greek proper, please note both the blog post and the comments are interesting).

Anyhow, to justify their radically supremacist view that the Greek alphabet originally sounded English, German, a combination thereof, or later to be turned to “at least not Greek”, Cheke, Smith, Blass tried to find justifications within ancient texts. As we have seen with other revisionist theories such as Afrocentrism(Cleopatra was Black, not Greek), “Macedonism”(Alexander was Slavic, not Greek), Orientalism(rebetiko music is Ottoman, not Greek, even though it does not even exist in Turkey); the protagonist does not really have to provide evidence for the Slavic, African, English or German part but merely question the Greekness of that Greek something(in this case the alphabet) enough so that the relative spectator can fill in the blanks themselves, practically that is the best they can do anyway, cause where can you really find evidence of Alexander the Slav, Cleopatra the Nubian and Euclid the Germanic Anglo-Saxon? It’d be in vain, so the only way can come by negating rather than proving. Of course, at the time, they had very little ancient texts, no epigraphy, and no archeology. So their POV was also extremely limited to misinterpreting clues of information from little snippets here and there.

In the subsequent centuries, the collation of epigraphy and Greek literature permitted the more rigorous & comparative approach on the subject of Greek dialectical & phonetic divergence, Randal Buth, Teodorsson, and other Greek or not boys demonstrated quite conclusively that the historical Greek pronunciation of the Greek alphabet is 100% accurate up until certainly 300BCE and 90% accurate phonetically with “inconsequential changes”(‘adiaphora’ as Randall Buth puts it) further back in time. Randall Buth also informed Luke Ranieri, the inventor of Lucian(and a proponent of Erasmian) during one of their debates in the ibiblio forum(archived by Ranieri as the forum no longer exists) that when he sees the change of vowel length in epigraphy, that does not mean that it is actively happening as Luke assumes but that it has already happened as speech precedes writing by quite a lot(centuries in fact especially when the changes are so subtle & even more so when we are dealing with autistic-type of people like the copywriters who maintain their traditional orthography as all calligraphists/carver’s of letters do even if it does not correspond to actual speech) and as such what Luke translates as 1st-5th CE length loss in Koine is actually 3rd-1st BCE according to Buth for the Koine and therefore certainly way earlier for Attic. Thus placing the historically native pronunciation well into the classical era.

More importantly, Buth also refused to accept Luke’s system even though Luke was happy to accept Buth’s and literally begged for a compromise. Buth did not compromise because he finds Ranieri’s theory as invalid & totally artificial(a word he uses during their debate) pure and simple.

Randall Buth of course makes sense because we mark a seminal point in Attic at 402 BCE (the adoption of Ionic letters in Athens) and another seminal point at 320BCE(Koine-Common language established by Alexander & Successors). Lots to be said about these 2 events, that I shall not get into right now, except that for which I cannot really help myself…

Open parenthesis
I will only mention that Attic was officially proclaimed by Philip of Macedon as the ‘common tongue’ but also as the Received Pronunciation consequently becoming the standard common(koine) tongue of all the subsequent Greek states, and people, the Bible, was used to write the original New Testament, the Septuagint which also became at some point the only version of the Torah accessible to a significant part of the Jewish community for some centuries. Attic is set as the RP for state usage, rhetoric, education, law, etcetera. This standardized duality operates on a loop allowing for slang & Mancunian for example but reinforcing a standard intelligibility, we see this in the modern states when everyone has adopted this policy of diglossia with all countries setting RP. Attic RP exists from 402BCE(Euclidean reforms setting RP) until 1453 and then again from 1840’s-1976. During the Ottomans schooling did not entirely vanish, we still have schools running but at a much lower ratio for the first couple of centuries, and as they pick up steam so do the revolutions as well, all 123 of them.

Classic Latin on the other hand stopped being taught as a state standard RP about 1000 years earlier than 1453, thus leading to the divergence of Latin to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, etcetera.
Close Parenthesis.

Instead, I will examine & counter Sidney P Allen’s arguments for the letter B(Vita).

Sidney Allen is treated like a Holy Prophet(lots of Erasmians, to avoid argument, just write “See Allen”, you will see proof of this in the subsequent posts where we take on Luke Ranieri and the inhabitants of the ‘Latin Exchange’), even though his book is really poor(75 pages for 24 ancient Greek letters) but it is like a little collated version of the Erasmian Greeklish fallacies minus the explicitly racist arguments. Funnily, Allen the linguist, does not even use IPA to render the phonemes! Go figure.

I came across Allen’s arguments by proxy.

And since they looked so ridiculous at first glance, even to a non-linguist like myself, I decided to put the counter-arguments I came up with rather instantaneously down in PoFo for posterior memory.

Right oh….

Ancient Greek letter beta was pronounced as /b (as in English bit) probably until the 2nd century CE. Its pronunciation started shifting to fricative [v] in various places at different times. Evidence for this comes from the following:

Reality, β has been v for far longer(100% until 600 BCE) and possibly forever. Assertion for assertion.

The below is a Crown Jewel, any erasmian/allenian online cites this argument with a certain type of smugness as does mr Foundalis while copying Sidney P. Allen.

Cratinus (5th c. BC), in a surviving fragment of comedy (in Dionysalexandros) states the following: “o d’ hliqios wsper probaton bh bh legwn badizei” (and the fool goes about like a sheep saying “be be”). If β is pronounced as [b] and η eta as long [e], we get the sound attributed to the animal by contemporary Greeks (“beeh-beeh”). If the letters are pronounced as in Modern Greek, we get “vi-vi”, which does not sound like a sheep at all, by any stretch of the imagination.

The fool that is being made fun of says ‘veve’, because he is a fool! You fool! when he should be saying something else(.ie bee-bee). The joke on the fool does not make sense if the fool is making the sheep sound perfect!

Why would he then be a fool?

Remember this argument because it becomes relevant later again when the author cites Aristotle and a secondary argument will be added on top of this further below.

A little note here: H was used to write both E(elephant) and I(India) in Cratinus’s time(519-422 BCE), in the old Attic alphabet prior to the Euclidean reforms of 402 BCE when the Ionic alphabet was adopted in Athens and the Attic alphabet dropped. Eventually, its(H) use as an I(india) won over its use as an E(elephant). But my focus today will be on the letter β rather than the letter Heta.

In fact, Plato, in Cratylus(418a) complains that people are iotacising, confusing iota(ι) for ητα & ει, thinking of them as grander beings(.ie longer iotas) as per standard Modern Greek.

He then relates that people write imera with HMERA or EMERA, wanting “to tame the day” as ημερος=domesticated and ηρεμος=calm in modern Greek. Iotacism did not happen in the Hellenistic times or Byzantine times, it had already happened in Plato’s time.

Anyway, let’s carry on with Allen’s Bita arguments.

Aristophanes (ca. 450 – ca. 388 BC), in a similar fashion says: “quein me mellei kai keleuei bh legein” (he is going to sacrifice me and tells me to say “ba”).

This makes no sense. The only question one can ask is “and”? or “what the heck are you on about”? How does this prove β as English b instead of Greek v?

The act of writing so in English, or rather Greeklish?

He also uses the presumably alliterative phrase “pinein kai binein”, which would be alliterative only if both initial letters (pi and beta) were of the same type, i.e., plosive (beta pronounced as fricative [v] would not work in this case).

“Presumably, eh”? Shameless. In terms of consonantal identity, p,v,f are not only consonants but the very particular consonants called labials(lips required). In Greek they are all homophonic, they belong to the same sonic class(labials) and also replace each other all the time.

Moreover, why wouldn’t pinein(drinking) and vinein(fucking) not work as wordplay in this case? or work somehow less that pinein and binein? Notice fricative ‘fucking’ cognate with fricative ‘vinein’, from vasin, anavasin, anavatis(.ie horse rider).

Besides, what on earth would binein be? Mpinein does not exist as a meaningful term.

Cicero (106 – 43 BC), identifies the pronunciation of “binei~” with that of the Latin bini.

Observe the nitpicking by Allen and all these people when you see the full text from Cicero. Here it is:

U. Primum est, quod ex tot Grammatices scriptoribus nemo varietatis
huius facit mentionem. Hoc si leve est, dicam aliud. M. Tullius in epistola
quadam ad Paetum, ut demonstret eandem vocem apud alios obscoenam
esse, quae apud alios sit verecunda, nec in verbo turpitudinem esse sed
in sensu loquentis, producit bini et Bívei , quae Latinis sit pudica, Graecis
obscoena. Atqui si Bível sonabat tum Graecis, quod vulgo sonat hodie,
non erat vox eadem apud utranque gentem, nihilo magis quam apud
Latinos bini et vini.
L. Probabile est quod narras.

Cicero puts the nail on the coffin, he relates Greek βινειν with Latin bini. He says that certain words sound similar but mean different things(the former Greek means to copulate and the latter Latin means “paired group”) and he cites Latin ‘bini et vini’ as examples of things that sound similar in Latin but mean different things.

Since we know for a fact that Classical Latin vini=wini. The only value for bini similar to wini can be vini. A plosive bilabial [b] does not sound similar to wi but fricative vi does sound similar to wi and many people confuse them still even to the present day as in wikipedia/vikipedia.

Moreover, not just Cicero but the whole of Italy before the shift of Latin V from w(γoui) to v(vest). This is more proof that Latin B sounded as [v] during his time than the other way around. Especially when you look at it from the time that Cicero actually lived(1st BCE). This makes more sense than Latins not even having a letter for [v] (the second letter of the original Greek and Phoenician alfavets pronounced in both as VET), we will see a lot more evidence for this later.

Curious question: Why does the author assume apriori that modern-day [b] as is in bread is an unshakable fact of life since the beginning of time?

Latin used the letter B to represent Greek letter B = [v] just like the Greeks used Phoenician letter B=[v], because they were identical both in form and sound, not only by Cicero but many other countless examples. And that is because Latin at the time allegedly did not have a letter(B) to represent the sound v even though B is reported to sound as [v] in Latin before the 1st CE.

What is certain however is that the Classical Latin letter V was used for the vowel Y(ypsilon) or for the consonant W(γoui), BUT NOT for V, so that precludes it until it changed from w to v, and evidently their Latin B from [β] to [b] at which point all epigraphies going forward render Greek B to Latin V.


wiki wrote:

In Latin, a stemless variant shape of the upsilon was borrowed in early times as U, taking the form of modern-day V – either directly from the Western Greek alphabet or from the Etruscan alphabet as an intermediary – to represent the same /u/ sound, as well as the consonantal /w/, num – originally spelled NVM – was pronounced /num/ and via was pronounced [ˈwia].[clarification needed] From the 1st century AD on, depending on Vulgar Latin dialect, consonantal /w/ developed into /β/ (kept in Spanish), then later to /v/.

Greek words containing the letter beta were transliterated to Latin using the letter b (Boeotia, Euboea, basis), although the fricative sound [v] existed in Latin (as consonantal u), and should have been chosen if beta had a fricative pronunciation.

Exactly, it was not just Cicero that did this, as above. Here, however, the author is now outright lying about the sound v allegedly existing in Classical Latin as consonantal u, he refers to the ‘wi'(not vi) sound wiki informs us above(via = wia). He just bets on the reader’s ignorance. In actual fact, when the Latin letter V eventually did become a consonantal vi instead of a w, then all Latin transliterations going forward use Latin V for Greek B.

For example, Adam and Eve/Eβe.

So, Latins used Latin B for Greek B when their B was a /v and then they used V for B when their V became a /v from /wi and their B from /v became a /b. They also used Latin letter C for Greek K(kinetic, cinema, kinema) when C was K but now it’s a ci(si), so people get confused.

Letters pi, beta, and phi, were called labial consonants by ancient Greek grammarians (and are still learned under this label in Greek elementary schools). Of these three, however, only pi is a true labial sound in Modern Greek, while beta and phi are labiodental*. The term labial is accurate if beta was pronounced as [b], and phi as [ph] (aspirated [p]).

Greeks do not distinguish between so-called “pure” labials and labiodentals, both ancients and moderns call them both the ‘lip consonants’ whence the author’s equivalency with “labial”. The ‘lip consonants'(aka labial) is therefore totally accurate both for pure labials(lips only, mb, p) and labiodentals(lips with teeth secondarily) both in modern, medieval, and ancient Greek.

One should also note that [modern, ancient, medieval] Greeks use the Εnglish sound b and they represent it by the diphthong ‘MP'( .ie mpampas=babas=daddy), they also use the English sound D(dental) which they represent with the diphtong ‘NT’, antras=andras=man.

Greek grammarians (e.g., Dionysius Thrax) divide consonants into two primary categories: the aphona (beta, gamma, delta, kappa, pi, tau, theta, phi, and chi), and the hemiphona (zeta, ksi, psi, lambda, mu, nu, rho, sigma). In Aristotle’s Poetics (1456b) the aphona (of which beta is a member) are described as “having contact” (= “meta prosboles”), but not being pronounceable without a vowel. In modern parlance we would say that aphona are the plosives, pronounced instantaneously, while hemiphona are fricatives, and those other consonants that can be pronounced continuously, without the need for a following vowel. If beta were fricative, it would be classified as one of the hemiphona.

This is my favorite for several reasons. Notice he quotes Aristotle 1456b, mark this for later as it will combine with an earlier argument.

He says that both Dionysius and Aristotle claim that hemiphona = modern fricatives. V = fricative, V not listed with hemiphona(fricatives), so β cannot be V because V cannot be fricative, it has to be something else(.ie an English plosive B).

Let’s assume for a moment that they do say this thing just to humor these people. The other hemiphona(.ie supposedly fricatives) that Dionysius Thrax, Aristotle and all other grammarians list are l,m,n,r as per the author himself. Are these fricatives?

Head explosion. :knife:

No, these cannot be the arguments that the entire western world uses to greeklish the Greek language, except for Greece & Jewish studies.

Yes friends, they actually are.

Let us proceed and take the rest of the text apart.

The author claims that the 9 aphona(Κ,Τ,Π, Β,Δ,Γ, Φ,Θ,Χ) must all be “plosives” he theorizes, no fricatives are allowed even though both plosives and fricatives are the same family of obstruents. Second, notice how the author starts with a statement from Dionysius Thrax(ancient Greek grammarian who analyses the letters perfectly down to the t as we shall see below) and finishes with a statement from Aristotle, a philosopher & not grammarian who admits so himself in the text they are quoting(“περὶ ὧν καθ᾽ ἕκαστον ἐν τοῖς μετρικοῖς προσήκει θεωρεῖν=But the detailed study of these matters properly concerns students of metre”.) and who totally contradicts what Allen claims that he says. It should be noted that this particular passage of Aristotle is not only misinterpreted very poorly but also mistranslated [by Fyfe] and quite maliciously so.

Aristotle makes a passing comment about aphona, hemiphones and vowels as well as Γ, Ρ, Σ but not B which is the actual letter he discusses, in a work about Poetry and not about the sounds of consonants as the author implies.

First, I will demonstrate, the way that [modern, medieval, and ancient] Greek people learn the alphabet, in accordance with Dionysius Thrax, and Dionysius Halicarnaseus who makes the exact same statements but goes into even more depth analysing how to produce each and every letter properly and accurately.

Of the so-called “voiceless letters,’ which are nine in number, three are smooth, three rough, and three intermediate between these. The smooth are «,π, τ, κ the rough φ, θ, χ; the intermediate, β, δ, γ. They are pronounced as follows: three of them (π, β, φ) from the edge of the lips, when the mouth is compressed and the breath, being driven forward from the windpipe, breaks through the obstruction. Among these π is smooth, φ rough, and β comes between the two, being smoother than the latter and rougher than the former. This is one set of three mutes, all three spoken with a like configuration of our organs, but differing in smoothness and roughness. The next three(τ,δ,θ) are pronounced by the tongue being pressed hard against the extremity of the mouth near the upper teeth, then being blown back by the breath, and affording it an outlet downwards round the teeth. These differ in roughness and smoothness, τ being the smoothest of them, θ the roughest, and δ in between them. This is the second set of three aphona. The three remaining aphona are spoken with the tongue rising to the palate near the throat, and the windpipe echoing to the breath. These, again, differ in no way from one another as regards formation; but κ is pronounced smoothly, χ roughly, γ in between the two. Of these the best are the rough χ which are uttered with a lot of breath(pollo to pneumati); next those which are in between(en to meso); worst those with no breath(tin auton dynamin echein monin); since they have their own force alone, while the rough letters have the windpipe breath also applied so that they are somewhere nearer perfection than the others.

Greeks define consonants and vowels as such: vowels = voice. Every vowel(phoni-en) makes a voice(phone). En phone=in voice=vowel. AAA, EEE, III, OOOO.

Hemiphones are letters such as S, L, M, N, R, letters that when attempted to sound on their own have no vowel(.ie voice) but a little vowelization escapes as in “hissing & mumbling” as both Thrax and Halicarnaseus inform us, so due to this little escape of a little /i or /ou, they are thus called semi-voices, ie letters that even without a vowel create a little vowel sound when attempted without one but not good enough to be a proper voice.

So consonants are broken down to aphona(no vowelisation/no voice without a vowel or hemiphone next to it) and hemiphona(slight vowelisation, as in ‘hissing and mumbling’ word for word from Thrax & Halicarnaseus).

The aphona (π,β,φ; τ,δ,θ; κ,γ,χ) equivalently in English = /p,/v,/f; /t, /δ this, /θ theos; κ=k, γ as in yota, χ = ch as in Bach

Are further broken down to labials(lips), dentals(teeth), velars(back of palate)

Labials: π,β,φ = p,v,f
Dentals: τ,δ,θ = t as in tea, δ as in this, θ as in theos
Velars: κ,γ,χ = k, γ as in yota(not exactly but close enough, no 100% english sound exists for this, one needs to remove the implied i between y and o from yo for a cleaner go that is not yo but γο), χ = ch as in Bach

And they are categorised further in a 3×3 matrix :

The horizontal axis defines smoothness, intermediacy and ψoarseness, while the vertical defines the labials, dentals and velars, both axes start from p the purest, cleanest, sharpest labial.

π, τ, κ = sharp
β, δ, γ = intermediates
φ, θ(theos), χ = hoarse.

How are fricatives distinguished from plosives as they are both obstruents?

plosives (oral stops), such as [p, t, k, b, d, ɡ], with complete occlusion of the vocal tract, often followed by a release burst;
fricatives, such as [f, φ, θ, s, ʃ, x, v, β, z, ʒ, ɣ], with limited closure, not stopping airflow but making it turbulent;[/u];

What is Halicarnaseus telling us about the dasea(coarse letters φ=f, θ, χ )? That the windpipe modulates the turbulence of the air.

What does he tell us about the fricatives β,δ,γ? that they also require modulation of the windpipe air(arterias ypichousin to pneumati) but less(intermediate) than the coarse ones which are the “best” and the most “perfect” of all.

What does he tell us about the plosives κ, τ, π that they have NO air but their own force alone(dynamin echei monin).

As such we have only 3 plosives, and 6 fricatives. And not 9 “plosives” as Allen is trying to shove down our throats in a very poor manner with tiny nitpicks & eye-popping misquotes.

I cannot stress enough the pains that both Thrax and Halicarnaseus went to underline that the intermediates(mesa) are defined soundwise as in between the sharp(psila) and coarse(dasea). They therefore place, β,δ,γ as intermediate sounds between the rest.

V is in between p and f in our mouths based on the air we use, p=no air, v=air, f=full air. English B is nowhere in between p and f. In fact, b is an airless plosive and it exists in this order, b, p, v, f in our mouth, not p, b, f = error! B is not intermediate between p and f, but v is intermediate.

Th(Δ) as in that is in between t for tea and /θ as in th for theos depending on the air modulation in our mouths. English D(nt) is nowhere in between t and th, again it exists in this order d, t, th/δ ,th /θ
Γ(gh) is also in between k and ch, English g=gk is not in between k καππα, χι(Bach), once again English g exists in this order g, k, gh /γ, ch /χ in our mouths.

So now, I ended up dragging more letters along the ride, and sure, why not?

It takes quite a bit of malice, creative interpretation, and dodgy translation to miss this and proclaim that the Greeks had no fricatives in their phonetic inventory until one fine day they had 6/9 of them or that the Latins had no /v sound at all. Even though 3 letters in 2 different cultures were used for V. Latin B for /v, Greek B for /v, and Latin v for /v later. In the subsequent posts, we will examine epigraphies as well as more evidence to close this matter permanently.

Anyhow, I promised a twist on an earlier argument about the joke as to how the sheep sound, note that the author misrepresents a text about ‘a fool being unable to vocalize sheep with proper letters’. The same author uses Aristotle 1456b to make another fake argument but what does Aristotle tell us about sheep in Poetics 1456b?

Read please:

Aristotle 1456b[20] wrote:

Animals utter indivisible sounds but none that I should call a letter.

Aristotle is telling us that using a letter to accurately represent animal sounds is an exercise in vain, something we now recognize as different people even within the same language family vocalize the same animals very very differently. And after all, in modern Greek bleating is velazo(βελαζω), not belazo, even if the sound for sheep is rendered as mpeeeee!

The contradiction of using Aristotle 1456b, when Aristotle contradicts even more the sheepish argument the same guy(Allen) made is quite outrageous but the author has departed the outrageous long ago, so this looks like a drop in the ocean by comparison. Still, animal sounds tell us little in reality but it does show that we are dealing with people on a mission with specific intent because in reality, you don’t need Aristotle to tell you this, you’d expect academics to understand as much anyway.

In any case, please visit this thread when my conversation with Luke Ranieri, Farya Faraji and the inhabitants of the Latin Exchange exposes a lot more issues.

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