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Source Texts Used in Greek and Latin Readings

Greek Pronunciation Convention

Why Modern Greek Pronunciation Convention?

Latin Pronunciation Convention

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SOURCE TEXTS USED IN GREEK AND LATIN READINGS

Greek Text:
The New Testament in the Original Greek
Brooke F. Westcott and Fenton J. A. Hort

Latin Text:
Novum Testamentum Latine Secundum Editionem Sancti Hieronymi
John Wordsworth and Henry J. White

 

A friendly note of encouragement to students of Biblical Greek and Latin, regarding the many variations (old and new) of New Testament texts available in these languages - and which one(s) to use for following along in the audio texts offered here.

The textual variations alluded to above, have principally to do with spelling, word order, inadvertent scribal insertions and omissions and other assorted manuscript-copiest murphyisms which, at a practical level, are of secondary concern to sincere Bible readers, thanks to the arduous and meticulous work of dedicated textual critics throughout recent centuries.

Thus, regardless of which text(s) you may have at hand, or which text(s) you may prefer, (e.g., anything from Erasmus, to modern refined texts such as Nestle-Aland and GNT; and/or available Latin Vulgate variations)...due to the overwhelming commonality which exists among them all, you may rest assured that you have a text which will allow you to follow along easily with the readings offered at this web-site. (Of course, acquiring access to editions of the above cited source texts, i.e., Westcott and Hort and Wordsworth and White, will facilitate your efforts.)


PRONUNCIATION CONVENTION USED IN GREEK READINGS
Based Upon Modern Greek Phonetic Values
defined as follows:

Character Name Phonetic Value
a AL-fa "a" as in "father"
b VEE-ta "v" as in "victor"
g GHAM-ma "gh" (soft)
d DHEL-ta "th" as in "the"
e EP-see-lon "e" as in "set"
z ZEE-ta "z" as in "zebra"
h EE-ta "ee" long-E as in "peek"
q THEE-ta "th" as in "theater"
i ee-O-ta "ee" long-E as in "peek"
k KAP-a "k" as in "kat" (!)
l LAM-dha "l" as in "light"
m MEE "m" as in "mother"
n NEE "n" as in "never"
x KSEE "ks" as in "kicks"
o O-mee-kron "o" as in "total"
p PEE "p" as in "pet"
r RO "r" as in "red"
s SEEG-ma "s" as in "sit" (V at end of word)
t TAV "t" as in "tub"
u EEP-see-lon "ee" long-E as in "peek"
f FEE "f" as in "foot"
c KHEE "kh" (soft) like German "Loch"
y PSEE "ps" as in "slips"
w o-MEG-a "o" as in "total" (like o above)

Note: The names given above for the Greek letters are not their traditional names. They are the phonetic names of the letters as they are pronounced in the convention utilized here. The traditional names may be found in any Greek grammar or dictionary.


ADDITIONAL GREEK PRONUNCIATION CONCERNS

Greek "iotacism"

"Iotacism" is an important phenomenon which greatly affects the pronunciation of modern Greek and renders within it a preponderance of the EE/ee sound. (as in"peek") Basically, this occurs because the following vowels and diphthongs have ALL assumed the sound of the modern Greek vowel "iota," (sound: EE/ee) hence, the name "iotacism."

Character(s) Phonetic
Function
Sound
h vowel "ee" as in "peek"
i vowel "ee" as in "peek"
u vowel "ee" as in "peek"
oi diphthong "ee" as in "peek"
ei diphthong "ee" as in "peek"

Greek "iotacism" further manifests itself in the phonetic names of the letters of the Greek alphabet. Notice the frequent appearances of EE/ee in the above alphabet, e.g., VEE-ta, ZEE-ta, EE-ta, ee-O-ta, MEE, NEE, etc.


Ambidextrous EEP-see-lon

The vowel EEP-see-lon (u) when it occurs within a diphthong becomes a consonant and is pronounced as a "V.", e.g.,

Diphthong Pronunciation
au av
eu ev
hu eev
ua va


Traditional Greek "Breathings"

And finally...
There is no "h" sound in modern Greek, so Greek "breathings" are not applicable to this material nor are they used in the readings.


WHY A MODERN GREEK PRONUNCIATION CONVENTION?

1.) First of all, no one knows how ancient Greek was pronounced. Therefore, modern Greek pronunciation is every bit as valid a choice for a pronunciation convention as any other.

2.) That having been said, modern Greeks themselves read the classics using modern Greek pronunciation. (Who, then, are we to argue with such an overwhelming and practical recommendation - by the Greeks themselves!) They win the vote on this issue by qualified millions.

3.) Modern Greek pronunciation is REAL as opposed to theoretical.

4.) Thus, it SOUNDS far better and far more FLUID than the theoretical and stilted pronunciation conventions commonly used in classical academia. (Real language doesn't sound like that.)

5.) Classical academia is generally not concerned with the art of vocal reading of Greek, regardless of favored pronunciation conventions. So one rarely, if ever, actually hears it read. (This fact, by the way, makes the choice of a pronunciation convention a de facto non-issue, depite the arguments.)

6.) The Bible highly recommends (commands!) vocal reading of its contents. (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:2; Acts 13:15; 1 Timothy 4:13; Revelation 1:3) With this in mind, if one would like to learn the art, a fluid pronunciation convention is a welcome asset to the endeavor. (And the Bible an excellent platform on which to begin.)

7.) For those who would argue that modern Greek does not make fine phonetic distinctions which facilitate the learning of correct orthography, e.g., omicron/omega; iotacistic melding of eta, upsilon, iota and various diphthongs, etc... one must remember that NO natural language voluntarily subjects itself to the straight-jacket of logical consistency for the benefit of learners. (Compare the ridiculous orthographic inconsistencies of English, which, by the way, did not appear to hinder its development and ascent to the unassailable position of planet Earth's virtual lingua franca...)

8.) An application of the modern greek pronunciation convention in this issue lays a fine foundation for a rewarding adjunct study of the language of MODERN GREEK! Such is certainly a worthy endeavor because modern Greek is a world-class language with a tremendous legacy, having SURVIVED the merciless vagaries of linguistic evolution-and-devolution, which have obliterated virtually ALL of its great historical language contemporaries. Where are they...?! And yet, Greek remains and thrives...(however, see discussion of Oldest Language at this website.)

FINALLY, an added FREEBEE which lends subtle security to your personal choice of a pronunciation convention...regardless of which one it may be:

Most likely, no one will ever know or care which convention you've chosen - because, most likely, no one will ever ask you to read Greek aloud! It will, therefore, most likely, never be an issue...unless it's selected from a tattered hat as a subject for academic debate. (And the debate, of course, will NOT occur in Greek! NOR will it occur in Greece!)

Thus, no one can justifiably hassle you about the pronunciation convention you choose! Simply choose one, apply it consistently and you will fare well! And for the reasons stated above, if you choose the MODERN Greek convention, you will fare weller (!)


PRONUNCIATION CONVENTION USED IN LATIN READINGS
Based upon current American-hemisphere Spanish phonetic values
defined as follows:

Character Phonetic Value
a as in "father"
b as in "boy"
c as in "car"  (hard)
c as in "cigarette" (soft)
d as in "dog"
e as in "set"
f as in "foot"
g as "go" (hard) 
g as in German "Loch" (soft)
h as in "hat"
i as in "peek"
j as in German "Loch" (above)
k if you find one, wing it
l as in "light"
ll as in "light" (same)
m as in "mother"
n as in "never"
o as in "total"
p as in "pet"
q as in Spanish "que"
r as in "red"
s as in "sit"
t as in "tub"
u as in "tool"
v as in "victor"
w if you find one, wing it
x as in "fix"
y if you find one, wing it
z if you find one, wing it



Common Latin Diphthongs

Diphthong Pronunciation
ai as in "eye"
ae as in "set"
au as in "out"
ei as in Spanish "seis"
ui as in "peek"
ua as in "oo-ah"
uo as in "oo-oh"

Practical example of diphthongal overload using the above phonetic conversions:

"ui-ai-ui-ai-O"

(ancient chant to an obscure Etruscan god of the vernal equinox, mak'DHON'ald)


READER'S BIO

Since graduating in 1972 from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in modern languages, the reader has been occupied avocationally with the study of semantics, comparative linguistics and New Testament Bible translation. He lives in Austin Texas with his wife and family and works professionally in the field of mainframe computing with technical specialty in OS/390 - z/OS systems programming.


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