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Overview of the Bibliography

The reason for this chapter is to introduce, briefly describe and present excerpts of the main works that I have consulted, on one hand, and to emphasise that the conclusions are not thoughtless repetitions of arguments presented in a few Orthodox or Catholic treatises, on the other. I hope it will become evident that I did not just read Caragounis or Allen and gullibly nod at their arguments.

Disclaimer: In this investigation, I often cite passages from earlier works verbatim. This is a practice not unknown in the similar works, e.g., those mentioned herein below, although most of the times the statements of previous works are paraphrased in the author's own words; one also finds entire excerpts of non-public works cited in various websites (e.g., here and here). I consider the citation of the exact text essential for a critical work, such as the present one, in order to avoid misrepresenting the subject of my criticism. I understand that there may be an issue of copyright, not so much for the works that are already in the public domain, but for those that cannot be obtained (legally) for free. I believe there is no breech of copyright as a) neither am I making any profit out of these citations nor are the citations so extensive as to reveal the bulk of the respective works and b) it is not possible to write a critical work on scientific matters without extensively discussing (and inevitably revealing) parts of the reviewed works. Nevertheless, I urge the interested readers to obtain copies of the works cited in the bibliography though the legal channels (as I have done), in order to formulate their own opinion (it may be that the citations are taken out of context and, therefore, misrepresented).

Looking for Ariadne's Thread

My failure to offer a watertight proof of the simple fact that Latin C was always pronounced [k] was not the only reason why I felt the need to know more about how we ended up with a Catholic version of ancient Greek. As a student, I was never taught in the Catholic pronunciation when learning ancient Greek, but I did occasionally hear the notorious... sheepish argument that sheep bleat βῆ βῆ (hence, β=[b], η=[εː]) and (in the course of learning foreign languages) I got accustomed to the use of H in Latin transliterations for Greek δασεῖα (e.g., hyper- for ὑπερ-, hippo- for ἱππο-) and its pronunciation as [h]. I never delved into the details of the Catholic pronunciation, mainly because my major at the University was not philology, but I did face it a few times (e.g., when I had to explain why my son's name is Michail and not Michael). Due to my involvement in writing the "Greek through the Internet" pages and my attempt to learn a few foreign languages, I developed an interest in linguistics and phonology in particular (for one, I had to find the proper English terms to describe the sounds of Greek). When I encountered some seemingly inexplicable peculiarities of the Catholic pronunciation, mainly the so-called "aspiration" (the elision of "o" in apo+helios→aphelion is implausible, since h is treated as a consonant, occasionally even in French where it is not pronouncedcf. "a hierarchy", not "an hierarchy", and "la hiérarchie"[FRA], not "l' hiérarchie"[FRA].) and the pronunciation of Ζ (why would anyone need a letter for [zd]?), I decided to know more about the justification of the Catholic pronunciation, not just its credo.

I found out it was no easy thing. I asked my father, a philology teacher, but he did not recall having been taught the rationale, only the conclusions; he was, nevertheless, sure (as was I at the time) that "they must have their reasons for that", namely he was assuming (as most of us do) that the linguists must have done their job properly and arrived at the Catholic pronunciation based on incontrovertible evidence and there was no reason for us to doubt that. Well, just the fact that someone says so wasn't enough for me (otherwise I would have to, e.g., convert to Islam, since Muslim theologians "must have their reasons for believing in the Koran"), so I checked my father's college textbooks (particularly on ancient-Greek phonology), but they were just reciting the rules of the "Erasmian pronunciation" (this is the name under which the Catholic pronunciation is known in Greece; outside Greece it does not have any attributive adjective, since it is the only pronunciation most people know).


As no book in my library provided any insight (they were all reciting the pronunciation but not the proof for it), I resorted to the ultimate reference source of the 21st century, Wikipedia, in particular the English-language article on ancient-Greek phonology (for some reason, I missed its Greek-language counterpart, which appears to be more comprehensive), which provided some initial hints, but mostly to academic books, to which, not being affiliated with any University, I had no access.

One of the links included on the Wikipage page was to the web site of Harry Foundalis, who maintains a set of... competing web pages on Greek, including a comparison of the Orthodox and Catholic pronunciations of the various Greek letters. He includes a page for each letter where the two pronunciations diverge, with a summary of the reasons that led to its Catholic pronunciation (with a note crediting ALLE87 for most of them, which was my first encounter with Allen's work). To my dismay, he calls these reasons "Evidence/Ενδείξεις", not "Proofs/Αποδείξεις", and the truth is I did not find them very convincing, so I (thought I) had to seek further.

Another link included in the aforemetioned Wikipage was to a 1995 article entitled "The Error of Erasmus and Un-Greek Pronunciations of Greek" (CARA95) by Prof. Chrys C. Caragounis, who is fittingly a... theologian!Interestingly enough, in one of the numerous posts on his Website, he objects to and rejects Wikipedia, in particular the English-language article on ancient-Greek phonology, which ironically was the reason why I (and I guess many others) became aware of his work! However, I have to concede that Caragounis was not entirely wrong in his assessment: I generally considered Wikipedia to be a great concept, a website where facts are reported objectively and dissenting opinions are represented fairly equally; however, during a recent search for the work of Gignac, Teodorsson and Horrocks, I bumped into the discussion thread of the Wikipage in question and I was quickly disillusioned (not that I ever considered Wikipedia to be any authority, but I did believe in its objectiveness); argumentation lent its place to fanaticism and the end result was as democratic as suggested by the famous (fake) Franklin quote that "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch" or that "Democracy is the tyranny of the majority"; what's more, the Catholic pronunciation is now presented as an undisputed fact (not as the dominant opinion for such and such reasons) and is named "Ancient Greek phonology", as though it covered the entire ancient times (in that respect, the corresponding Greek-language Wikipage is more honest in that it only refers to the Classical-Greek pronunciation). Caragounis, in addition to shaking my belief in the so-advertised "scientific pronunciation" of Ancient Greek, also drew my attention to the major players in the Catholic-Orthodox feud: Erasmus, Blass, Allen, Sturtevant, Papadimitrakopoulos, Jannaris. I had, thus, more specific targets in my quest, but locating the sources without having access to a public library was no easy task.

The only other thing I learned from Wikipedia was that, in the last 40 years or so, significant research (Smith, Teodorsson, Gignac, Threatte, Horrocks) based on inscriptions (i.e., direct evidence) overturned the traditional chronology that had been advocated by mainstream academia in the 20th century and suggested that "many of the relevant phonological changes [towards the 'modern-Greek' pronunciation] can be dated fairly early, reaching well into the classical period", which implies that previous work on the subject might have been not as "scientific" as we had been led to think.

Hard Print

It was not easy to find the works of the above-identified authors through the usual channels. The only book which enjoyed commercial success and was, thus, available at the online general bookstores, was Allen's "Vox Graeca" (ALLE87), which I promptly ordered. Further pointers to related works were included therein, notably Sturtevant (again) and brief mentions of Jannaris' "magnum opus|great work" (according to Caragounis) and Thumb's disertation (THUM88). The latter I also ordered through an online (copying) service and I tried to order the former (JANN97) as per Caragounis' suggestion, but to no avail.

Another source of (physical) books were conventional bookstores. In one of my... forays to a Greek bookstore, I discovered what I consider to be two gems: a very informative book on ancient inscriptions (ARVA37) by Arvanitopoulos and a collection of lectures (MENA98) given at Oxford by Menardos (translated in Greek); I later ordered (through the same online copying service), an English version of his inaugural lecture (MENA08) at Oxford. Other acquisitions in a similar way were of marginal importance, such as Greek translations of Erasmus' famous dialogue (ERAS00) and Browning's comprehensive book on later Greek (BROW08), as well as a book on ancient-Greek metre (LYPO07) and a typical "Hellenocentric" book on digamma (DORI00), which was anything but what I hoped for.It was essentially an effort to prove the influence of Greek on some unlikely languages, like Polynesian, through the story of the extinct ancient-Greek letter digamma Ϝ.

Due to my past avocation in the world of linguistics, my library already included works by Maurice Pope (POPE99), as well as John Chadwick (CHAD76, CHAD90), which deal with the question of decipherment of ancient scripts, the methods followed and the controversies that ensued, as well as Jean Aitchison's introductory book for the masses (AITC04), which is a good summary of the major linguistic topics and, although it is largely concerned with Chomskyan theories, it does briefly touch upon reconstruction and other Neogrammarian principles. Finally, a strange addition was the... self-proposed book by Siamakis (SIAM88) on the history of writing and, in particular, alphabetic scripts.

Soft Print

The breakthrough in my research came when I realised that most books published before 1920 were available in downloadable format on the Internet. My main sources for digital print were Google Books, Open Library and Internet Archive, which provided the bulk of the remaining Catholic and Orthodox prints written either in English, French or German, while Anemi gave me access to a host of works written in Greek, notably those of Chatzidakis and Papadimitrakopoulos and their unconventional correspondence through the scholarly press of the time (CHAT98, PAPA98, PAPA98a). Ain't the Age of Information grand?

The Internet was also the source of a number of linguistic material that I occasionally (often accidentally) run into, mostly treatises or dissertations which were either directly related to the issue at hand (e.g., BUTH08, PAPA09) or to more general linguistic issues that would prove useful side knowledge in my quest (e.g., PEUS99, PIER80).

The Popes

In reviewing the main players, I will start with the fervent Catholics, who have established or defended the Catholic doctrine. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive or even representative of the Catholic elite. Many people not listed have at times defended Catholicism and/or played a more significant role (e.g., Cheke and Smith). The criterion for inclusion was mainly whether and how many of each one's arguments are presented and examined in this website. I have purposely left Erasmus out of the list, because a) his most important arguments are included in the more recent Catholic works, and b) I am not sure he wanted to be a Pope or even a Catholic. For it is reported that "Existe además un conocido testimonio histórico que explica cómo Erasmo, cuando se creó la Universidad de Lovaina, le dirigió una carta a Ianus Láscaris pidiéndole le enviara un griego nativo para cubrir la cátedra especificando para que los estudiantes adquieran la genuina pronunciación de la lengua griega|There is also a known historical testimony that explains how Erasmus, when the University of Louvain was created, addressed a letter to Janus Laskaris asking him to sent him a native Greek to fill the professor's chair stating that the students should acquire the genuine pronunciation of the Greek language".The text also questions Erasmus' knowledge of Greek: "Esta carta fue redactada en latín. Muchos se preguntan porqué no lo hizo en griego, siendo ésta la lengua de Láscaris y dado que ambos habían sido miembros de la Academia Aldiana, donde ese era el idioma oficial. Que los conocimientos de griego de Erasmo eran deficientes lo certifican algunos estudiosos como Bayle, quien observó que en la traducción que Erasmo hizo de Crisóstomo en sólo ocho omilías encontró 150 errores elementales de traducción.|This letter was written in Latin. Many wonder why he did not do it in Greek, that being the language of Laskaris and given that both of them were members of the Academia Aldiana, where it was the official language. That Erasmus' knowledge of Greek was deficient is certified by some specialists like Bayle, who observed that in the translation of Chrysostom done by Erasmus in only eight speeches he found 150 elementary errors of translation." This testimony (the Latin original is quoted in PICK18, pp. 232-233) is also reported by Rhankabes (RHAN81, p. 7), who also submits that Erasmus includes a similar statement in his aforementioned "eher launenhaften als ernsten|rather whimsical than serious" dialogue and that "In einem andern Dialog, den ein junger Mann mit der Echo hält, wiederholt diese auf eruditionis das Wort ὄνοις als gleichlautend, auf solos ὅλως, auf astrologi λόγοι, auf grammatici εἰκῆ, auf famelici λύκοι|In another dialogue held between a young man and the echo, it [i.e., the echo] repeats in response to eruditionis the word ὄνοις as homonymous [i.e., rhyming], to solos ὅλως, to astrologi λόγοι, to grammatici εἰκῆ, to famelici λύκοι" (pp. 7-8); in other words, Erasmus used the Orthodox pronunciation for Greek (wherein οι=ει=η=υ=[i] and ω=[o]), although not for Latin (famelici rhymes with λύκοι only if c=[c], unless the echo is... Cretan), for his word play.

William Sidney Allen

When it comes to the question of justifying the Catholic pronunciation, Allen is an almost mandatory reference ("for the scientific pronunciation of Greek, see Allen", "the pronunciation of ancient Greek was reconstructed based on several evidence, as explained by Allen", etc). To the uninitiated, Allen seems like the Einstein of ancient phonology. However, according to his biographer, "There is no single 'big idea' in general linguistics that one can associate with him as its inventor or creator ... Nor is there in comparative philology ... any major revolutionary hypothesis ... that can be seen as his invention or creation" (LYON06, p. 24). Instead, he has managed to collect the most important arguments in support of the Catholic pronunciation in a relatively compact "treatise" (the evidence for the 24 Greek letters are squeezed in just 75 pages) entitled "Vox Graeca". For an English-language book on Greek, its Latin title is a paradox (if not an insult). It evidently alludes to his previous best-seller, "Vox Latina" (ALLE78, which deals with the question of the pronunciation of Latin), but it is certainly a poor choice for a title of such a book.Leo Papademetre, as quoted by Caragounis (CARA06, p. 2), comments that "Allen’s often-quoted 1968 ... treatise reflects through its Latin title a covert element of the mediated view of Ἑλληνικά|Greek (language) via latinate scholarship since European Renaissance: VOX GRAECA, is the subject of its inquiry, not ΦΩΝΗ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ|VOICE OF GREEKS". In Allen's own words, "Vox Latina" and "Vox Graeca" "both seem to have established themselves as the standard reading on these matters in schools and universities" (LYON06, p. 28). For the purposes of this website, only the latter book seems relevant; however, due to the innumerable references to and argumentations based on the pronunciation of Latin, I was obliged to study the former, too.

"Vox Graeca" is "A book intended not only for the academic scholar but also for the general reader and student" (ALLE87, pp. xii-xiii, "FOREWORD TO THE FIRST EDITION"). After an introductory chapter on phonology and generation of sound, which serves both as introduction to phonology for the uninitiated and as glossary for the rest of the book, he proceeds to the evidence about the individual sounds. However, he starts not with an assessment of actual data but with... a statement (!): "whenever the normal spelling writes a double consonant, it stands for a correspondingly lengthened sound" (p. 12, emphasis in the original!). Having established (better, asserted) that, he condescends to provide some evidence in support of the assertion (basically, metric considerations and minimal pairs). This is a (haughty) style that characterises most of his book (but has also been common practice for almost every scholar who has written on this topic, including Caragounis; it appears that the more authoritarian the author's style is, the more recognition he enjoys): first state the (desired?) result and then provide circumstantial evidence in support of the expressed thesis.

Allen also appears to be an imperfect... phonetician (as strange as that may sound for the person credited with the establishment of linguistics in Cambridge), as he is often trapped between the limitations of the English phonological system and the prejudices of Catholicism. For example, in discussing the possible "fricative" pronunciation of Γ in IV BCCapital Roman numbers refer to centuries (e.g., V BC=5th c. BC); Arabic numbers to years (e.g., 500 BC). I will abide by the traditional notation BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) for dates before and after (the assumed date of) Christ’s birth; I see no reason for adopting the expression “Christian Era” or “Common Era” for describing the same period (if one is offended by the reference to Christ, one should use a different reference point, e.g., the birth of Zarathustra, Voltaire or Elvis, not a different name)., he states (ALLE87, p. 31-32) that "we find omission of γ between vowels of which the first is a front vowel (e.g. ολιοσ = ὀλίγος); this is at first sight suggestive of the modern Greek development of γ to [y] (via a voiced palatal fricative{[note 44:] Cf. Armenian Diožēn = Διογένης (11 c.) etc.; similarly in some modern Greek dialects.}), but the modern pronunciation applies only to the position before front vowels (e.g. ἔφαγε)". It is not clear whether by [y] he means (IPA) [j] (palatal semivowel) or [ʝ] (voiced palatal fricative),His reluctance to use the IPA is regrettable (he acknowledges that on p. 11), but not condemnable. but his argumentation appears to refer to the semivowel, i.e. ὀλίγος = [o.li.jos] → [o.liʲ.os] → [o.li.os] = ολιοσ, by virtue of the similarity of (full) vocalic [i] and semivocalic [j] (which is essentially a non-syllabic short /i/). However,

With so many inaccuracies (to use a mild term) in a single sentence, the statements and conclusions of Allen's book should be treated with extreme caution.However, I will not, in the spirit of most works on this subject, fall into the trap of rejecting his entire work based on these deficiencies, but I will (and must) examine all his arguments.

Edgar Howard Sturtevant

Sturtevant appears to have been Allen's predecessor. He published (so to say) prequels to both "Vox Latina" and "Vox Graeca" in a single volume (STUR20). He published a second edition 20 years later, which is the one referred to by Allen and other linguists. Unfortunately, I only have (online) access to the first edition, but I do not expect the second edition to go along different lines and to include evidence/arguments not found in, e.g., Allen.

The merits of Sturtevant's work are evident right from the introduction (pp. 1-2): "The original clue to the speech-sounds of Greek and Latin - the starting point of our knowledge of the subject - is tradition ... This tradition of the schools, then, forms the historical basis of our knowledge; but it requires correction at numerous points ... In order to correct the tradition of the schools we turn first to the independent tradition of the great public, which is found in the modern Greek dialects and the Romance languages ... Even if the popular tradition cannot be accepted at its face value, it is often instructive"; he sets, therefore, solid bases for his investigation right from the beginning, contrary to some of the scholars (cf. Blass) before him. He also acknowledges the inherent constraints that only allow a limited certainty about any "reconstruction": "most of the available evidence falls short of definite proof ... The available evidence does not permit us to do more than determine the approximate pronunciation of Greek and Latin" (pp. 11-12). Whether he always abides by the principles set forth in his introduction is a different matter.

For me, the most important feature of Sturtevant's work is that he respects his reader and provides English translations of the quoted Greek and Latin texts, which I often use in this website (even though they are not always 100% correct). For the meaning of quotes in Latin, with which I am not more familiar than my knowledge of a few Romance languages permits, his translations are invaluable.

Friedrich Wilhelm Blass

Blass is the type of scholar that can turn any non-believer in Catholicism into a fanatic atheist or even a devout Orthodox by virtue of his tone alone and irrespective of the substance of his arguments. He has published a book on the evidence for the individual sounds of each of the Greek letters; he was essentially a Sturtevant before Sturtevant. It all began in 1869 with 29 pages (BLAS69) included in a "school program" at the Gymnasium where he was lecturing in Naumburg. These were expanded to 41 pages in a book published the following year (BLAS70), then again to 109 pages in the second edition (BLAS82) in 1882 and to 140 pages in the third and final edition in 1888 (which I have not been able to retrieve), translated (very faithfully) into English in 1890 (BLAS90).

His contempt for the Orthodox (or "Reuchlinians" as he calls them) is evident right from the first draft (BLAS69). The reason for his taking up arms was evidently that, after three centuries of universal obedience to Catholicism, the "erasmische Aussprache|Erasmian pronunciation" was disputed "nicht bloss von den Neugriechen selbst, sondern auch von manchen deutschen Gelehrten|not merely by the modern Greeks themselves, but also by some German scholars" (p. 1). He then argues against the various "abscheulichen und barbarischen Misslaute|hideous and barbaric cacophonies" (p. 23) of the modern Greek pronunciation, which only chauvinism would consider attractive: "Natürlich halten die Neugriechen ihre Aussprache für schön; denn der nationale Fanatismus glaubt was er glauben will und leugnet was er nicht glauben will|Of course do the modern Greeks consider their pronunciation beautiful; for the national fanaticism believes what it wants to believe and denies what it does not want to believe" (p. 2). Having pummeled the "Reuchlinians" on every aspect of vocalism and having proclaimed that the German pronunciation of the vowels is practically true and genuine, he sarcastically "laments" the failure of modern Greeks to at least pronounce the consonants correctly: "Eine Position bleibt nun den Neugriechen noch übrig, in der sie sich besonders sicher wähnen, das sind die Consonanten. Schade nur, dass ihr Verteidiger Scholz selber sie in einem recht wichtigen Punkte preisgibt, ich meine beim φ, dessen wesentlicher Unterschied von f, mit welchem es jetzt gleich klingt, allerdings Quintilian mit allzudeutlichen Worten hervorhebt.|One item remains now still for the Greeks, in which they consider themselves to be particularly certain, that is the consonants. It is a pity though that their defender Scholz himself relinquishes it in a rather important point, I mean φ, whose fundamental difference from f, with which it presently sounds the same, was nevertheless pointed out by Quintilian with extremely explicit words." (p. 25). How can one expect to win any dissenters by such belittling arguments? And most importantly, if Greek chauvinism is the apparent reason behind the Orthodox zeal, what could be the reason for such passion on Blass' side in defending Catholicism?

The same line of "reasoning" was also followed in the first edition of his book (excerpts have already been quoted earlier), but more moderate language was employed in the second edition (BLAS82, "VORWORT": "Die Polemik habe ich auf ein sehr geringes Maß beschränkt|I have limited the polemics to a very low level"), although sarcasm is readily discernible throughout his book: "wer verträgt z. B. (bei Herodot etwa) tīs alīthïíis τῆς ἀληθηΐης , tīs ijiíīs (τῆς ὑγιείης), und was dergleichen Monstra mehr sind, die überhaupt in keiner wirklichen Sprache vorkommen?|who can tolerate, e.g. (say by Herodotus) tīs alīthïíis τῆς ἀληθηΐης, tīs ijiíīs (τῆς ὑγιείης), and other monsters of that kind, which do not occur at all in any real language?" (p. 16). Incidentally, he justifies this last position of his by stating that "Die Altgriechen haben, sobald ει zu einfachem i geworden war, nicht mehr ὑγιεία gesagt sondern ὑγεία, ebenso ταμεῖον statt ταμιεῖον, πεῖν statt πιεῖν, gerade wie schon früher das dialektische πόλιι in πόλι, Διί vielfach in Δί kontrahiert war|The ancient Greeks, as soon as ει was simplified to i, no longer said ὑγιεία but rather ὑγεία, just as ταμεῖον instead of ταμιεῖον, πεῖν instead of πιεῖν, exactly as the dialectal πόλιι was already earlier contracted to πόλι and Διί frequently to Δί". That there was no predjudice among ancient Greeks against two consecutive [i]'s is evident by the attested (uncontracted) forms Blass mentions (πόλιι, Διί), as well as other examples such as ἰίζω and (even if one accepts with Blass the pronunciation οι=[oi, oj]) the frequent ending -ποιΐα/-ποιια.Caragounis also cites (CARA04, p. 374, n. 104) four inscriptional instances with consecutive ι's (Ἐλαιιται, ἐλαίινος, Ἀθηναιικόν, Ἑρμαιικόν), but I cannot evaluate whether they are variant forms or merely mistakes.

In the third edition (BLAS90) he extensively relies on the work of Psycharis, who, being the main promoter of the vernacular over the artificial (atticistic) puristic as the official Greek language, was obviously eager to see the pronunciation (which was shared by both the vernacular and the puristic) declared as distant from the ancient as possible, in order to diminish the latter's claim of affinity to the classical language. For example, Blass stipulates (p. 13) that, if the "Reuchlinians" want to be consistent in using the "modern-Greek pronunciation", they should also use (what he thinks are) the conditional sound changes (e.g., κτ→χτ, πτ→φτ) and any feature of "the genuine language [i.e. the dialectal vernacular of the common people, which] falls foul of the traditional writing much more frequently than the language of the learned": "The Reuchlinian therefore ought to say eftá, ochtó, niffi (nifi) for νύμφη etc., and arrange everything under proper rules the number of which must certainly be very great; otherwise he transgresses at every step his own principle. Finally there is no lack of points, as regards which the testimony of oral tradition is entirely at variance, according to dialects and localities… This is all emphasized by Psichari, and the necessary inference to be drawn from it is that the Reuchlinian principle neither is nor can be carried out in practice" (which is tantamount to claiming that one cannot read Shakespeare with an American pronunciation, because one should employ Texan, Californian and Bostonian accent all at the same time!).

He concludes his work (BLAS90, pp. 135-138) with a translation of the Lord's Prayer into the vernacular and transliterations "into Roman letters" of the original (Koine-Greek) version and of the translation, "In order to place in a true light the contrast of the old and the new". The "translation" is not any official modern-Greek version used in the churches of today, but it is provided by Psycharis based on what modern words he thinks would have been used to render the same meaning. One can, thus, but agree with Papadimitrakopoulos (PAPA89, p. 721), who points out "ὅτι οὐδέποτε οὐδαμοῦ ἠκούσθει ὅτι Χριστιανὸς τῆς ἑλληνικῆς ἐκκλησίας οὐδὲ ὁ ἀπαιδευτότατος γινώσκει ἄλλο κείμενον τῆς Κυριακῆς προσευχῆς ἤ τὸ ἐν τῷ Εὐαγγελίῳ ἀρχαῖον ἑλληνικὸν, καὶ ὅτι εἶνε μέγα σφάλμα ἐν ἐπιστημονικῷ συγγράμματι νὰ καταχωρίζηται κείμενον προσευχῆς ἀνηκούστου καὶ ἀνυπάρκτου|that never [and] nowhere was it heard that a Christian of the Greek church, not even the most uneducated one, knows any other text of the Lord's prayer but the ancient-Greek one of the Gospel and that it is a big mistake to include in a scientific work text of an unheard-of and nonexistent prayer". Based on this imaginary "modern" version, Blass proceeds to draw conclusions about the differences between "the old and the new" pronunciation: he discovers open/closed varieties of all modern vowels (claiming, e.g., that "Ο is in general open", "Accented i is almost always given as closed"), he speaks of "nasal vowels similar to the French sound" (here, Psycharis' "French connection" must have contributed to the illusion), he mixes pronunciation with phonetic change (the fact that prevocalic [e] and [i] often contract to palatalise the previous consonant, e.g., βασιλέας→βασιλιάς=[vasiˈʎas], does not mean that the former cannot be read "as written" by a speaker of modern-Greek vernacular), he defines strange "rules" (e.g., "Νἁγιαστῇ nayasti is written by Psichari with τ, though as a rule in such cases the written form contrary to the pronunciation retains the θ", a practice that exists only in Blass' mind) and stipulates that conditional sound change should be universal ("The transcription πονηρόν boniró militates against the rule we have mentioned above, according to which unaccented ir (ιρ, ηρ, υρ) must become er."). All in all, there is so much dogma and misinformation in his analysis, that his juxtaposition of the original and "translated" versions is, to use his own words (BLAS70, p. 8), "eine gänzlich nichtige und wertlose|an entirely void and worthless [one]".

Albert Thumb

Albert Thumb was an important figure in the study of the later ("modern") stages of Greek; he is described as "Neogräzist|Neohellenist (?)" and has the reputation of a Philhellene. Indeed, he has learned the language and visited the country in many occasions, even published in Greek. His work should have been irrelevant for the question of the pronunciation of ancient Greek and his place among the "Popes" unjustified, had it not been for his dissertation (THUM88), which dealt with the question of the so-called "spiritus asper", a feature of Greek that initially used to be represented by the letter Η (whence the Latin H), which was later "recycled" to denote a vowel, the feature being also referred to by the Catholics as "aspiration" or "aspirate" and assumed to stand for the independent sound [h], the "voiceless glottal fricative". I looked for his dissertation after being intrigued by a note in Allen's book (ALLE87, p. 54, note 107), wherein he is presented as the instigator of the oxymoronic "voiceless-vowel theory".

He wrote the work in question under the supervision of Karl Brugmann, "a towering figure" of the Junggrammatiker, in 1888, before learning Greek (from 1889 onwards), at the end of a decade marked by the fierce writings of Blass. Being a dissertation of a mere student that needed the approval of his superiors, it reflects the spirit of that environment and era. Its main purpose is, in accordance with its contemporary practice (particularly that of Blass), to push the limits of the assumed "classical pronunciation" as far into the post-Christian era as possible. His conclusion (p. 88) is telling about his intentions (to flatter the "Bosses" of his time): "Blass behält Recht, wenn er die Existenz des Hauches bis in die christliche Zeit vermutet|Blass is right after all, when he conjectures the existence of exhalation [='aspirate'] until the Christian era".This conclusion is rephrased on p. 89 by means of a further oxymoron, namely that the Greeks possessed the aspirate well into CE times "wenigstens in der gebildeten Umgangssprache|at least in the educated slang [=colloquial speech]" (emphasis mine)!!! The means he uses to support this conclusion is the assumed correctness of the script, i.e., "dass Fehler in der Anwendung der Vocalaspiration auf Inschriften (mit Ausnahme der spätesten Zeit) fast ganz auszuschliessen sind|that mistakes in the use of vowel aspiration in inscriptions should (with the exception of the latest period) be almost entirely excluded" (p. VII).

A typical sample of his method is his discussion of what he calls "intervokalische Hauch|intervocalic aspirate" in Laconic, an "aspirate" that corresponds to a degenerate intervocalic Σ, for which he submits (p. 9, note 1) as evidence the "Laconic" γερωχία in the received text of Lysistrata, l. 980, which is supposed to stand for γερωἵα (from Attic γερουσία with σ converted to the "aspirate"). Then he remembers that χ is not supposed to have had its present value ([x]) in V BC (when Lysistrata was written) and submits that "Die Schreibung χ entstand zu einer Zeit, als χ zum Spiranten geworden war|The writing χ arose at a time, when χ had been turned into a spirant". What he has in mind is, therefore, a time when the "aspirate" was (still) [h] and χ had the (present) value [x]; however, in that case, the (reasonable) temptation to use χ for all "aspirates" would be too great to ignore and many instances of use of χ for that purpose should have been identifiedcf. the usual Greek practice of rendering English h using χ; e.g., Henry, Harry, Hoover become Χένρυ, Χάρ(ρ)υ, Χούβερ, but (almost?) never Ἕνρυ, Ἅρρυ, Οὕβερ.; since no such (extensive) confusion is ever attested (cf. CHAT02, p. 461, §39), this time (of co-existence of [h] and [x] in Greek) must have existed only in Thumb's mind.

Georgios Nikolaou Chatzidakis

ChatzidakisHis name in Greek is "Χατζιδάκις" and its expected Latin transliteration would be "Chatzidakis", but it appears that he used the Latin spelling "Hatzidakis" himself. I prefer the more correct transliteration Χ→CH and this is the spelling I will use in this Website. is credited as being the "father of Greek linguistics" and the defender of the scientific conclusions against non-scholarly prejudices: "Τις αντιεπιστημονικές απόψεις διαφόρων λογίων (όπως του Κωνσταντίνου Οικονόμου, του Α. Ρ. Ραγκαβή και του Θ. Παπαδημητρακόπουλου), οι οποίοι υποστήριξαν με υπερβάλλοντα ζήλο ότι η ιωτακιστική προφορά είναι ήδη αρχαία, ανέτρεψε ο πατέρας της ελληνικής γλωσσολογίας Γ. Χατζηδάκις|the unscientific views of various scolars (such as Konstantinos Ekonomos, A. R. Rhankabes and Th. Papadimitrakopoulos), who asserted with exagerated zeal that the iotacistic pronunciation is already ancient, were reversed by the father of greek linguistics, G. Chatzidakis" (ELIA99, p. 124).

Having studied in the Neogrammarian nest, Leipzig, under the supervision of Berthold Delbrück, he essentially established a Junggrammatiker-Niederlassung|Neogrammarian branch office in Greece. His involvement in the question of the pronunciation of ancient Greek was marginal in the beginning and limited to a few journal articles dealing with isolated claims, mainly by Papadimitrakopoulos. The feud between the two men deteriorated to the point that they started "smart-assing" each other in 1898 (PAPA98, CHAT98, PAPA98a), each one claiming science on his side, Chatzidakis finally giving up on trying to convince his adversary, because "δἦλον ὅτι ἀληθῶς χάσμα μέγα καὶ ἀδιάβατον ἐστήρικται μεταξύ τῶν δύο μεθόδων ἡμῶν καὶ δὴ ὅτι πᾶσα συνεννόησις τοῦ λοιποῦ εἶναι παντάπασιν ἀδύνατος, διὸ καὶ πᾶσα περαιτέρω συζήτησις ἀνωφελὴς καὶ ἀνιαρὰ τοῖς ἀναγνώσταις|it is apparent that there exists a great and impassable chasm between our two theories and specifically that any understanding is henceforth impossible, hence any further discussion [is] useless and boring for the readers" ( CHAT98, p. 399).

Chatzidakis would eventually publish a massive two-volume work under the title "Academic Readings", of which I have consulted only the first volume (CHAT02), which is relevant to the question at hand. He sets out by summarising the evolution of Grammar from ancient to modern times (chapter 1); unlike Sturtevant, his starting point is the "Japhetic" language, a pre-historic language abundantly "attested" in... several modern books on comparative linguistics (now termed PIE). In the next chapters he reviews the ancient Grammar sources (chapter 2) and he presents detailed information on phonetics (chapters 3, 4) including even information about the anatomy of the vocal organs! Subsequently, he discusses sound change or "phonetic laws" (chapter 5) and introduces his big weapon, analogy (chapter 6); this is the usual means for explaining away "exceptions" to the phonetic laws, which are "Δρακόντειοι καὶ ἀμείλικτοι|Draconian and relentless" (CHAT98, p. 382), as well as "ἀπαράβατοι|inviolable" (p. 360): if a phonetic law predicts a form A, but (also) forms B are attested, one can dismiss the latter as "exception" by finding another form C sufficiently similar to B and claiming that form B was developed "by analogy with form C". After a brief overview of further phonetic phenomena, like compensatory lengthening and ablaut (chapters 7, 8), come the two chapters on ancient-Greek pronunciation. My favourite is the "general" one (chapter 9), wherein he points out the weaknesses of the different types of evidence and explains why no safe conclusions can be drawn from them; Chatzidakis is so strict in his judgement, that one wonders whether there is actually a way to prove beyond doubt what the phonetic values of the ancient Greek letters were. Unfortunately, in the next chapter, where he discusses the specific sounds of ancient Greek (chapter 10), he only applies the conclusions of the "general" chapter to the Orthodox arguments, particularly those of Papadimitrakopoulos, whom he seems to have actually had in mind when writing the book. The volume concludes with a couple of chapters on breathings and accent (chapters 11, 12), which are very indicative of the way he tries to justify pre-conceived theories he was obviously taught in Leipzig.

For example, when discussing the generation of vowels, he states (CHAT02, p. 462) that we have two options, the first one being "νὰ κλείσωμεν ... στερεῶς τὴν γλωττίδα, ὥστε ὁ ἦχος τότε μόνον νὰ δύνηται νὰ ἐξέλθῃ καὶ καταστῇ αἰσθητός, ὅταν ὁ φραγμὸς οὗτος λυθῇ, ὅτε τοῦ φωνήεντος προηγεῖται ψόφος τις αἰσθητὸς μάλιστα κατὰ τὸν ψίθυρον. Οὗτος δε ὁ ἔκκροτος φθόγγος ἀντιστοιχεῖ τῷ aleph τῶν Σημιτικῶν γλωσσῶν καὶ τῇ ψιλῇ τῶν ἀρχαίων Ἑλλήνων|to close ... firmly the glottis, so that the sound can only come out and be perceived when this blockage is broken, in which case the vowel is preceded by a mute sound which is best perceived when whispering. This plosive sound corresponds to [the letter] aleph of the Semitic languages and the thin [a.k.a. smooth] breathing of the ancient Greeks" (the other option relates to ancient-Greek "δασεῖα" or "rough breathing"). The sound he describes is clearly the glottal stop ([ʔ]), which is typically identified with Semitic aleph and which, he is convinced, coincides with the ancient-Greek "ψιλή" (the "smooth breathing"). That this (i.e., ψιλή=[ʔ]) can under no circumstances be the case is clear for the very simple reason put forward by Allen (ALLE87, p. 56) that "unaspirated initial vowels [i.e., vowels receiving the ψιλή] in Greek permit elision and crasis, which would be highly improbable if they were preceded by a stop articulation". Disregarding this obvious fact, Chatzidakis appears so convinced about the correspondence between the glottal stop and the ψιλή (as well as between [h] and the δασεῖα) that he develops an elaborate theory to "scientifically" explain the phenomenon!After a more careful revision of Thumb's thesis (THUM88), I realised that the aforementioned theory is most certainly not of Chatzidakis' making. Thumb (p. 90) attributes it to Buttmann and Czermak and rejects it right away (p. 91), partly on Allen's grounds. The same theory of how the spiritus lenis relates to the aleph/glottal stop is also used practically verbatim in the 1876 edition of Brücke’s "Grundzüge der Physiologie und Systematik der Sprachlaute", as quoted by Sturtevant (STUR37, p. 114). Chatzidakis, in a way reminiscent of modern-Greek academia, merely parrots the (questionable) theory he was taught at the Universität.

The "general" part of his study on ancient-Greek pronunciation (chapter 9) is very promising for the purposes of my investigation; however, Chatzidakis takes it only halfway and does not scrutinise the Catholic arguments with the same stringency. I aspire to carry on from where he left, using to a large extend the guidelines he has put forward.

Dr. Moshe

Theodoros Moysiadis (Θεόδωρος Μωυσιάδης) has contributed to a number of Βικιπαίδεια (=Greek-Wikipedia) articles that mostly deal with linguistic topics, notably the Greek-language article on the pronunciation of classical Greek (WIANPR). He goes by the nickname Dr. Moshe (ד"ר משה), a clear allusion to the root of his last name (Mωϋσῆς=Moses=משה=Moshe)I confess that I was so fascinated by his choice of nickname that I was considering establishing a similar nickname for myself, ד"ר מלאך (Άγγελος=angel=מלאך), but I did not want to claim the title Dr. Mlak (as would be its Latin transliteration), which is very reminiscent of the most well-known Greek word, exclusively for myself. ☺ and the fact that he has a doctoral degree, evidently under the "guru" of contemporary Greek letters, the unquestionable "authority" on all matters of modern-Greek language, Prof. G. Babiniotis. He appears to be a pure product of the present academic establishment of Greece, essentially a greek Thumb of the 21st century. He has his personal blog, where he defends the linguistic science from ignorant amateurs and is an emerging authority in medieval- and modern-Greek etymology. Just like Thumb, he would not have a place in the papal Hall of Fame, had it not been for his entries in the aforementioned Wikipedia article, which is not confined to a mere enumeration of the kinds of evidence upon which the "reconstruction" was based, as done in its English-language counterpart, but includes specific examples and arguments that appear to be original (i.e., not copied from Allen or any other of the authors I checked).

His trademark is a convoluted argumentation comprising fancy (technical) terminology and out-of-the-blue conclusions, as exemplified by his "proof" that ΟΥ=[o:] (which is different from Allen's adopted value, ΟΥ=[u:]):I assume that the texts quoted from Wikipedia (WIANPR) are written (or at least reviewed and approved) by him, as he includes that article in his list of contributions and seems to be the only contributor that would use such language. Strictly speaking, I should have used the impersonal term "Wikipedia" as the author of these texts, but one should recognise that these articles are not written by themselves, but are rather the main responsibility of a coordinator. "ε + ο > ου, π.χ. ποιέ-ομεν > ποιοῦμεν. Η νεοελληνική προφορά των φωνηέντων [e], [o] δείχνει σαφώς ότι από τη συνάντησή τους δεν προκύπτει [u] αλλά [o] (λ.χ. Θεόδωρος > Θόδωρος, *νεωπός > νωπός, όπου έχουμε έκκρουση του κλειστότερου [e] από το ισχυρότερο [o]). Απεναντίας, προϊόν της συναιρέσεως αυτής είναι ένα μακρό κλειστό [o:]. Συνεπώς, η προφορά του ρήματος είναι [poïo:men].|ε + ο > ου, e.g. ποιέ-ομεν > ποιοῦμεν. The modern-Greek pronunciation of the vowels [e], [o] clearly shows that from their coming-together [=junction] we get not [u] but [o] (e.g. Θεόδωρος > Θόδωρος, *νεωπός > νωπός, where we have eccrousis of the more close [e] by the stronger [o]). On the contrary, the product of this contraction is a long close [o:]. Hence, the pronunciation of the verb is [poïo:men].". This argumentation is incomprehensible. At first glance, the argument seemsAs indicated by the expression "Η νεοελληνική προφορά των φωνηέντων [e], [o]|The modern-Greek pronunciation of the vowels [e], [o]". Needless to say, that [e] and [o] are sounds, the "pronunciation" of which is independent of language, namely their "modern-Greek pronunciation", is the same as their "modern-Armenian pronunciation" and their "ancient-Navaho pronunciation." to be doubting the "originality" of modern-Greek sounds [e] and [o] (vowels Ε and Ο and their homologs ΑΙ and Ω, respectively). But the diachronism of Ε's and Ο's sound is not disputed, so the essence of the argument should be in the observation that ε + ο ≠ ου (i.e., [e] + [o] ≠ [u]) in present-day Greek. Initially I was puzzled by the term "eccrousis" ("έκκρουση"), which I could not identify with any of the established terms for sound change and, in order for the argument to make any sense, I interpreted it as meaning "masking", "absorbion", "assimilation" or something similar; however, I then managed to find its definition taken from his mentor's dictionary (to which he also contributed), which essentially explains that "eccrousis" is a mere case of elision of one of the two vowels, and specifically word-finally ("έκθλιψη", το άκουσε→τ'άκουσε) or word-initially ("αφαίρεση", με είδε→μ'είδε) instead of word-internally, as in the cited examples (ποιέομεν→ποιοῦμεν, Θεόδωρος→Θόδωρος). Thus, in order to explain the ancient phenomenon of crasis (a contraction where the two sounds merge), he uses the modern phenomenon of elision (an omission of one of the two sounds)! Many more objections can be raised against the above-cited text:

Any attempt to make sense of this argument leads to insurmountable difficulties. The juxtaposition, in the argument, of the ancient and modern contractions may imply that the mechanisms behind the two phenomena are either (A) different or (B) identical. In case (A), no conclusion can be drawn from the modern practice about the ancient, much less the inexplicable conjecture that ΟΥ=[oː]. Case (B) essentially amounts to claiming that, in the ancient contraction Ε + Ο, [e] was elided by [o] (in accordance with the relative-strength scale mentioned above) and the [o] that remained was lengthened (for some other reason) to [oː], which must be the phonetic value of the graphic result ΟΥ. However, if this conjecture is correct, it should also apply it to the other ancient contractions, notably to Ε + Α = Η and Α + Ο = Ω, which (since Α is the "strongest vowel") should both produce [aː] (the accepted value of the resulting Η and Ω are [ɛː] and [ɔː], respectively).In a subsequent argument ("α + ο/ω > ω, π.χ. φάος > φῶς|α + ο/ω > ω, e.g. φάος > φῶς") for "proving" the phonetic value of Ω, the argumentation rather shifts to case (A), namely that the modern pronunciation (of Α, Ε, Ο???) cannot apply to the ancient language (obviously what is meant here, too, is the rules governing contraction not the phonetic value of the contracted vowels). Note also that the contraction Α + Ο = Ω is valid for Attic, but not for other dialects (cf. HORR10, p. 28: "Characteristic of all non-Attic-Ionic dialects is the retention of original long [a:] [...] and, where contraction occurs, the development of [a:] + an o-vowel to [a:] rather than [o:] (as in τᾶν [tâ:n] ‘the (fem gen pl)’ beside Attic [tô:n], both < τάων [tá:o:n])"; thus, if one abides by the "relative-strength theory", the relative-strength scale of modern Greek would have to be identified with that of Laconian etc. rather than Attic.

It is evident that such arguments are so flawed that, in the end, they convince only those who a priory accept the conclusion (i.e., that ΟΥ=[oː]).It should be pointed out that, here, I do not doubt the conclusion (i.e., that ΟΥ=[oː] at some point in time in Greek phonology), which we have not yet examined, but rather the dubious methodology used to prove it.

The Patriarchs

Orthodoxy is depicted as having a rather short history, at least on the theoretical side, and as having been a mere quirk of a few chauvinistic Greek scholars of the 19th century. Even though it was the only doctrine before Erasmus, to speak of Patriarchs before XVI AD would be inaccurate. For example, Reuchlin, whose name is usually associated with the Orthodox pronunciation, did not produced any arguments in favour of the correctness of his pronunciation; he was merely continuing the tradition handed over to him by his Greek teachers and died before Catholicism was even conceived. The most fervent proponent of Orthodoxy after the emergence of Catholicism was probably Bishop Gardiner, whose obstinate resistance to the expansion of the new creed appears to have rather stemmed from practical considerations (cf. MENA98, pp. 15-16; also BLAS82, p. 4, "Bischof Gardiner ist als wissenschaftlicher Streiter nicht zu rechnen|Bishop Gardiner is not to be considered a scientific combatant"). Contrary to the aforementioned popular depiction (i.e., that the Orthodox are Greek chauvinists), Papadimitrakopoulos lists (PAPA89, pp. ιε´-ιθ´) more than 30 active Orthodox partisans (and a fairly equal number of Catholics) between Gardiner and himself, the vast majority of whom are non-Greeks (notably Pickering, Bloch, Renan, Scholz, etc). However, I could not identify any Orthodox works after the turn of the century (with the exception of ELLI55, which is concerned with the practical rather than the theoretical part of the problem). It appears that Orthodoxy, probably due to Chatzidakis and Blass having thwarted any resistance inside and outside Greece, ebbed until the last quarter of XX AD, when it was revived by the "Swedish school" (i.e., Teodorsson and Caragounis).

Chrys C. Caragounis

The reason for Caragounis' dissidence appears to have been that the Catholic pronunciation (which is now supposed to correspond to Classical Attic of V BC) is used by international scholars (in the aforementioned Protestant fashion) for pronouncing the text of New Testament (which was written more than half a millennium later in Koine Greek).cf. CARA95, p. 183, "one also wonders why in the light of this Erasmians still persist in pronouncing e.g. the New Testament (even from their point of view) in an anachronistic way?" He also argues that a good knowledge of Greek in all its historical stages is required for biblical exegesisNote that New Testament was written (almost?) entirely in Greek and the Old Testament is known to the West mainly through its Greek translation of around 200 BC, a.k.a. the Septuagint. and that Orthodox phonology can be very helpful in clarifying many controversial passages of the Holy Text. He describes himself as a former devout "Erasmian", who was completely disillusioned after completing a study of a large number of ancient-Greek inscriptions.He submits: "I can bear witness that as a teacher of New Testament Greek, I taught it in the Erasmian way for twenty-four and one half years. When in 1995 I had finished my research on the inscriptions and papyri and written my study on 'The Error of Erasmus', I announced to my students that scientific honesty demanded that assured scholarly results should be put into practice. Respect for scientific research and scientific gains made it incumbent on me to abandon the Error of Erasmus."

In his most famous article (CARA95), Caragounis presents the results of (what he claims was) "essentially the first serious study on the question of pronunciation since the heated discussion of the nineteenth century".He most certainly is not right in his claim. His work comes two decades after Teodorsson's book, which is far more comprehensive, while Gignac also appears to have carried out similar research and they have both drawn similar conclusions. He was, thus, not the first to argue against the Catholic pronunciation on the basis of the orthography of the early inscriptions. The most important contribution of Caragounis is that he has studied a large number of B.C. inscriptions, mainly Attic, as well as "various collections of Egyptian Papyri" (note 13), and has identified spelling mistakes made in inscriptions dated as early as VI BC. He attributes these mistakes to the confusion of "the two letters (or diphthongs) in question [being] sounded identically or similarly ... by those not acquainted with historical orthography (i.e. the etymological spelling)" (p. 163). He thus identifies a series of (near) phonetic equations dated from as early as VI BC (in the case of ΕΙ=Ι). This methodology is applied mainly for the vowels and diphthongs, but he also provides inscriptional evidence relevant for the pronunciation of the diverging (between Catholics and Orthodox) consonants.

Unfortunately, he goes on to undermine all this important work by engaging in speculations or statements that are not as well-founded as the results of his inscriptional study and by using substandard terminology.e.g., p. 171-172, "Now with regard to the aspirates Θ, Φ, and Χ, they took the place of the earlier digraphs ΤΗ, ΠΗ, and ΚΗ" (ΤΗ is never attested, only ΘΗ in a couple of Melean and Theran inscriptions which, generally, have the other two; cf. CHAT02, p. 450); p. 173, "F (digamma), which was sounded as v" (F=[v] was digamma's accepted value in the early 19th century, the same as the assumed value of Latin consonantal V, a tradition that survived until the middle of the 20th century; but it is long established that the actual value of both letters in Classical times was that of the Semitic letter waw that spawned them, namely [w]); p. 175, "if a syllable was placed in an 'accented' position within the foot, it was considered long by position (θέσει μακρά); if in an unaccented position, it was considered short (ἄρσει βραχεῖα)" (the theory that the long vowels were considered long merely because they 'happened' to coincide with 'accented' positions within the metrical foot does not fare well with the consistency of placing always the same 'considered long' syllable of a word in an 'accented' position of a verse, but rather indicates that poetry worked the other way around, namely that a 'φύσει μακρά' or 'θέσει μακρά' syllable was placed in one of the 'accented' positions within the foot; I later realised that he was rather clumsily reciting the metrical theory of Jannaris in JANN97, pp. 519-540, but without much coherence); p. 177, "circumflex [was] placed on contracted vowels and explained as the combination of the acute with the grave ... but it had no rising and falling tone in pronunciation — an impossibility in actual speech" (recounting the claims rather than proving them); p. 181, "Υ was thinned down" (a coarse description of the 'fronting' and 'de-labialisation' of [u] to [i]). As a consequence, in a hasty reading of his article, these dubious assertions overshadow the factual argumentation and provide footing for unfair criticism that would reject his entire work based on the fallacy of part of it.A typical example is ANNI08, which is a case of looking at the finger and missing the object being pointed at (Caragounis is i.a. accused of not speaking... Posh linguistish and of claiming that "Ancient and Modern Greek are pronounced essentially the same"); it also includes a reference to "a lengthy article available online, written by an actual linguist, [but] ... has disappeared", probably written by Caragounis' "favourite", Lukas Pietsch.

Despite these shortcomings, the work of Caragounis has its merits and can be summarised as follows:The aforementioned article (CARA95) was slightly expanded and incorporated into his book as a separate chapter (CARA04, pp. 339-396), without, however, providing any new evidence or arguments (at least in the part of the book that is visible online) that deviate from the spirit of the article.

Personally, I consider Caragounis' greatest contribution to be the fact that he was actually the first in a century to stand up (not without reason, as supported by the actual inscriptional evidence he provides) to the Catholic establishment, which has imposed its doctrine by a combination of consistently deriding, belittling and waving off any opposition and haughtily proclaimed itself the only genuine and scientific truth. But he did it in a way that served neither his purpose nor his credibility. One needs to recognise, though, that it is not entirely his fault: as he suggests himself, he continues "the heated discussion of the nineteenth century"It is clear from his article that his adversary is Blass (p. 156, notes 2, 11, 12), not Allen (whom he only cites on p. 183 and note 32 on account of the practicality of the Catholic pronunciation and his unfamiliarity with Greek). and thus uses arguments of the 19th century, which abound with thoughtless populist arguments and inexactitudes.Even the great masters erred, e.g., Chatzidakis, when he identifies the "smooth breathing" with the glottal stop (CHAT02, p. 462) and Erasmus, when he identifies the French "tuer" and the Greek "θύειν" as cognates (ERAS00, p. 107; also ALLE87, p. 142) or when he claims that German borrowed its word for fire (OHG|Old High German fiur?) from Greek πῦρ (ERAS00, p. 139).

Antonios Nikolaou Jannaris

It was mainly due to Caragounis that I became aware of Jannaris after reading his article and being intrigued by the (there-quoted) introduction of his "Historical Greek Grammar" (JANN97). That inspired introduction explains the reasons for his conversion from Catholicism, "to which, when an undergraduate in German universities, [he] had become a sincere convert", (back) to Orthodoxy, which, he alleges, was not due to "a preconceived plan", but because in the course of his research he "began to light upon phenomena which could not fit in well with the received [i.e., Catholic] theories" (I have not found any explicit indication in his book what these "phenomena" were, but they almost certainly comprise ancient inscriptions including deviations from the standard orthography, which are usually interpreted as spelling mistakes). It was for this reason that I was desperately looking for a way to get my hands on his book, which was the catalyst for my discovery of the online digital libraries.

I only read the part of his book that relates to phonology. I was very much impressed by the originality of his (controversial) theories (particularly on Quantity, p. 519 ff.) and the (relative) soundness of his argumentation. I also realised that Caragounis did a very bad job in adopting (without explicit acknowledgement) and explaining them. I was not convinced though that his theories were not developed with the (justification of the) Orthodox pronunciation at the back of his mind. My impression is that, initially, he was indeed driven by true interest in reconciling the theory with the data, but, after dismissing some aspects of the Catholic pronunciation, he strove too hard to provide data or arguments against the remaining aspects. Many of his theories appear too contrived and their presentation is too assertive to be considered the result of impartial review of the data. For example (p. 36), "as long as the vowel symbols η and ω together with their combinations ῃ and ῳ, ηυ and ωυ, did not exist, they cannot claim a sound of their own"; he appears namely to be denying a different (qualitative?) value for Η (in its vocalic function) and Ω, on account of their absence from the original (old-Attic) alphabet. But if one adopts this principle, one must also deny, e.g., any presence of accent in Greek before the Alexandrine period (and even in English, German, etc up to and including the present period)!The cited passage may have another reading: as long as (vocalic) Η and Ω do not exist, one cannot claim that they had any phonetic value; in other words, it would be wrong to assign a certain "original" value to Ω, say ([ɔː]), before that letter appears in inscriptions.

Despite their patent subjectivity, his theories have more merit than those of most other Orthodox, but have not been considered, much less reversed, in any of the works I have consulted (except for Caragounis, who repeats some parts of his metrical theory, yet without acknowledgement). Chatzidakis lists him in the Bibliography (CHAT02, p. κγ´), but he does not quote, discuss or refer to his work, at least not in the first volume. Allen is the only one who has a reference to Jannaris (ALLE87, p. 27 and note 30), specifically to his observation (p. 58) that the consonant clusters ΧΘ and ΦΘ pronounced [kʰtʰ] and [pʰtʰ] (as per Catholicism) "constitute a physiological impossibility in any actual language", only to accuse him of "a priory dogma" (how fitting for a religious strife!).Allen's objection is based on the fact (?|I have not been able to confirm it) that clusters of aspirates do exist in some languages, such as Armenian, Georgian and Abaza, a language which, in Allen's own words (LYON06, p. 13), "turned out to have 64 distinct consonant phonemes, many of them of great phonetic complexity (e.g. glottalised labialised uvular plosives), but only two vowels or by an alternative analysis one" (and thus... comparable to Greek). He, thus, argues against the "improbability" (sic) of the Catholic pronunciation of these two clusters, without, however, providing any actual example of attested [kʰtʰ] or [pʰtʰ] in any language.

Theodoros Papadimitrakopoulos

Papadimitrakopoulos is perhaps the most misunderstood scholar, for he is often portrayed as a mere "fanatic" and his submissions as "unscientific views", a sentiment which was undoubtedly amplified by the menace with which Chatzidakis ultimately came out against him. Due to this prejudice, I was initially reluctant to even look for his works, until I came across some articles (PAPA98, PAPA98a) he had written against Chatzidakis, while I was looking for the latter's major academic work (CHAT02). Eventually, I was intrigued enough to seek his gargantuan book (PAPA89) defending Orthodoxy and quickly realised that it is not less "scientific" than many of his contemporary works (or even Caragounis for that matter). His views are all backed by solid evidence and reasonable (though often far-fetched) argumentation and his only drawback is that, when the evidence is inconclusive (which is the case most of the times), he is too eager to adopt the explanation that suits his purpose.

His general thesis in the question of the pronunciation of ancient Greek is that "ἡ νῦν ἐν Ἑλλάδι προφορά, πλὴν τῆς εἰς ι ἀπολεπτύνσεως τοῦ η καὶ υ καὶ τῆς τούτω ἰσοδυνάμου οι καὶ τῆς συστολῆς τῶν μακρῶν συλλαβῶν εἰς βραχείας, ἐν οὐδενὶ σχεδὸν ἄλλῳ φαίνεται ἀφεστῶσα τῆς παλαιᾶς|the current pronunciation in Greece, with the exception of the thinning to ι of η and [of] υ and its equivalent οι and the contraction of the long syllables into short, seems to deviate from the old one [i.e., ancient pronunciation] in almost nothing else" (PAPA89, pp. 1-2) and that "πλὴν τῆς ἀπωλείας τοῦ δασέος πνεύματος, ἥτις ἑν ταῖς πλεῖσταις τῶν ἑλληνικῶν διαλέκτων φαίνεται τελεσθεῖσα κατὰ τὰς ἀρχὰς τῆς β´ περιόδου, οὐδεμία ἄλλη μεταβολὴ καθορᾶται περὶ τὴν προφορὰν τῶν συμφώνων ἀπό τῶν Ὁμηρικῶν χρόνων μέχρι σήμερον|with the exception of the loss of the rough breathing, which in the majority of the Greek dialects seems to have taken place about the beginning of the second [?] period, no other change can be seen in the pronunciation of the consonants from the Homeric times until today" (pp. 182-183). Essentially, he claims that the only sounds of ancient Greek different from the modern pronunciation were η(=[eː]), υ=οι(=[yː]), αι(=[ɛː]), the so-called rough breathing (=[h]) and the distinction of vowel length. He concludes his book by stating (p. 711) "Ἔως ἡ ἐπιστήμη εἴπῃ τὀν τελευταῖον αὐτής λόγον περὶ τοῦ ζητήματος τῆς ἐλληνικῆς προφορᾶς, οὐδὲ τὸ παράπαν διστάζομεν νὰ πιστεύομεν ὃτι τὰ πλεῖστα των γραμμάτων καὶ αἱ ἐξ αὐτῶν συγκείμεναι συλλαβαί, πλὴν ἐλαχίστων ἐξαιρέσεων, ἔχουσιν ἐν τῷ παρ’ ἡμῖν ἀλφαβήτῳ τὴν αὐτήν δύναμιν, ἣν καὶ ἐν τῷ ἀρχαίῳ|Until science says her last word on the question of Greek pronunciation, we do not at all hesitate to believe that most of the letters and the syllables composed by them, with a few exceptions, have in our [current] alphabet the same value they had in the ancient".

Regarding his method, he has collected an enormous number of, what appear to be, "orthographical anomalies" in ancient inscriptions (which were only then beginning to be investigated) suggestive of possible (near) identity between the sounds of the letter actually used and the letter that should have been used. He also relies on (often ambiguous) statements of ancient authors, which he interprets in favour of the present pronunciation. In that respect, it is interesting how, starting from the same evidence as some Catholics, he draws different conclusions. For example, his interpretation (pp. 513-515) of Crassus' perception of "CAVNEAS" (=Καυνέας) as "CAVE NE EAS" as reported by Cicero and (pp. 435-441) of the confusion between λοιμός and λιμός mentioned by Thucydides is that the diphthongs αυ and οι were sounded [av] and [i(ː)] respectively (as today in Greek), whereas, e.g., Sturtevant (STUR20, pp. 9, 40 and 144-145, respectively) reaches a different conclusion (i.e., αυ=[aw] and οι=[oj]) from the same evidence.

His initial adversaries were the foreign "Erasmian" scholars of the 19th century, such as Curtius and Heinrichsen, but particularly "ὁ Βλάσσιος, ἀνὴρ παντάπασι ξένος τῶν ἑλληνικῶν φθόγγων καὶ μόνον ὑπὸ Γερμανῶν καὶ γερμανιστὶ φθεγγομένων διαδαχθεὶς τὴν ἑλληνικήν|Blass, a man entirely alien to the Greek sounds and taught Greek only by Germans using the German pronunciation" (PAPA89, p. 479). However, he was soon targeted by Chatzidakis, who, despite an initial appraisal "τοῦ ἐξαιρέτου βιβλίου τοῦ φίλου καθηγητοῦ κ. Θ. Παπαδημητρακοπούλου|of the excellent book of [my] friend Prof. Th. Papadimitrakopoulos" (PAPA98a, p. 56, note 1), little by little began to attack individual arguments/interpretations that appeared to contravene the Neogrammarian principles and eventually his entire work. Soon, their debate turned into a bitter wrangle, and Chatzidakis devoted a significant part of his textbook (CHAT02) to pointing out the hastiness of Papadimitrakopoulos to draw questionable conclusions from anomalies which afford alternative interpretations. It appears that Chatzidakis is right in his critique, but (as pointed out above) he often relies on the inviolability of the phonetic laws and extensively on analogy as a tool to explain away "anomalies", a fact often critisised by Papadimitrakopoulos.

The latter often decries the (former's) Neogrammarian practices and may have been the first to openly dare do so. For example, with respect to the spread of sound change, he submits that (PAPA98, p. 61) "εἶνε ψευδὴς ὁ κανὼν τοῦ κ. Χ. ὁ ἀπαιτῶν ταχεῖαν καὶ καθολικὴν ἐξαλλοίωσιν φθόγγου τινὸς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς συλλαβαῖς, ἐὰν ἅπαξ ὁ φθόγγος οὗτος τολμήσῃ νὰ ἐξαλλοιωθῇ ἔν τινι ἢ ἔν τισι συλλαβαῖς|Mr. C's rule, which stipulates rapid and universal change of a particular sound in all syllables, if that sound dares change in one or some syllables, is false" and (p. 68) "Ἀμφιβάλλομεν ἄν καὶ οἱ Δρακόντειοι νόμοι ἦσαν τοσοῦτον αὐστηροί, ὅσον ὁ ψευδοκάνων τοῦ κ. Χ.|We doubt whether the draconian laws were as strict as Mr. C's pseudo-rule". His assertion that "μεταξὺ τῆς ἀρχῆς τῆς ἀλλοιώσεως φθόγγου τινὸς ἕνεκα τῆς ἐνεργείας φωνητικοῦ τινος νόμου καὶ τῆς ὁλοσχεροῦς αὐτοῦ ἀλλοιώσεως δύνανται νὰ παρεμπέσωσιν ἱκανὸς ἀριθμὸς ἑκατονταετηρίδων|many centuries may intervene between the beginning of change of a particular sound, due to the action of a certain phonetic law, and its complete corruption" (PAPA98a, p. 30) and his depiction of (the Neogrammarians' favourite tool) analogy as "τὸ ἀπόκρυφον καὶ μυστηριῶδες, μόνῳ δὲ τῷ κ. Χ. ἁποκεκαλυμμένον ψυχολογικὸν αἴτιον|the arcane and mysterious psychological reason, which was revealed only to Mr. C." (p. 14) seem to be vindicated by modern research (see, e.g., below).

Alexandros Rhizos Rhankabes

Rhankabes (as is the correct transliteration of his name Ραγκαβής=[raŋgaˈvis]) or Rangabé (as was his pen name in French) was a multifaceted personality, being a statesman and an intellectual at the same time (it was still possible back then ☺). In the question of the pronunciation of ancient Greek, he is best known for his (questionable) practice of reading ancient (metric) poetry (e.g., RHAN81, pp. 42-45) by applying stress to "long" syllables, in order to create a feeling similar to the current practice of associating rhythm with the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, thus ignoring the actual accentuation of the original.

I was incited to consult his work by a reference to him in Thumb's dissertation. While reading Plato's dialogue Kratylus (PLAT94), I noticed that Socrates traces the etymology of the name of goddess Ἥρα (=Hera) to the word ἀήρ by virtue of the fact that you can hear this word if you repeatedly call Hera's name, something which is only possible if the "rough breathing" of Ἥρα is not pronounced (at least with its currently "accepted" value of [h]). I had not seen this being discussed in any work I had consulted until I read Thumb arguing against this (THUM88, p. 80) in reply to an observation of Rhankabes. It was not too difficult to identify which work of his Thumb was referring to and get my hands on itΑccording to Papadimitrakopoulos (PAPA89, pp. ιη´-ιθ´), Rankabes wrote a first treatise in French entitled "Remarques sur la prononciation du Grec|Remarks on the pronunciation of Greek" in 1873 and the same in German in 1881 (RHAN81) and in a second augmented edition in 1883 (which I have not been able to retrieve). (indeed, Rhankabes has spotted this statement of Plato's - on p. 38 - and used it to argue that the "rough breathing" had no phonetic value in Plato, as today in Greek). This work (RHAN81) is rather short and by no means comprehensive, but his submissions are to the point and he has some witty remarks, for example:

Edmund Martin Geldart

Geldart seems to be one of the last pre-Blass non-Greek Orthodox. I do not recall how I came across his book (GELD70), but I was astonished by his arguments and views, all the more so as he is not mentioned as an authority by anyone. The book's most characteristic feature is a great respect for Greek as a whole ("often the language of the vanquished, yet never of the dead", p. 1) and for (modern) Greece: "It seems hardly too much to say that our conduct in this regard [i.e., attitude towards post-classical Greece] shows a kind of literary ingratitude which ought to shock our moral sense. Greece has in various ages preserved to us the succession of culture when the rest of the earth was overrun with savages. For us it has held the citadel of civilization against the barbarism of the world, and now the danger is over we have forgotten our benefactor, and trouble ourselves little how it fares with him." (p. 2)

He has interesting suggestions and his comments, although often sentimental, are worth considering. For example, regarding the possibility of continuity not only of Greek vocabulary and morphology, but also of pronunciation, he asks: "Is it most likely that the forms have been preserved, but the pronunciation utterly corrupted, or that both have been handed down to us together? To believe the first is to believe what is contrary to the whole analogy of what we know of other languages. Since Sanscrit was Sanscrit, who doubts that the pronunciation has been in the main preserved? Since German was German, who questions the fact that it was sounded as it now is ? Or how can we believe that Chaucer, whose English differs from our own as regards the grammatical forms more than Homer from Romaic [=modern Greek], if read by us in the present day, would be perfectly unintelligible to himself?" (p. 9)

His most controversial theory (almost unrelated to the question of ancient-Greek pronunciation) is probably his postulation of a Semitic (more precisely Jewish) influence in Tsakonian, which he suspects by the structure of their "periphrastic present and imperfect" and confirms by a number of similar words (pp. 122-125). He posits a Hebrew settlement in Cynouria since ancient times, "adopting and adapting the materials of the Greek language, not once and for all, but gradually, partly during the time that Greek was still ancient Greek, and partly after it had become modern". One has to acknowledge at least originality!I later realised that this conclusion is awfully similar to Flavius Josephus' account that "ἐντυχόντες γραφῇ τινι εὕρομεν, ὡς ἐξ ἑνὸς εἶεν γένους Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι καὶ ἐκ τῆς πρὸς Ἄβραμον οἰκειότητος|We have met with a certain writing, whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedaemonians are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham [Whiston translation]" (Judean Antiquities, XII, 226)

Sven-Tage Teodorsson

As a graduate student, I was initiated into (and worked in) the field of Information Theory, a branch of communications initially developed by Claude E. Shannon, in his groundbreaking 1948 paper "A Mathematical Theory of Communication". That paper was described to me by a colleague as a "monument of intuition", a designation that made a lasting impression on me and comes to my mind every time I encounter a pioneering work in any field of science.

Such is the work of Teodorsson (TEOD74) as regards epigraphy, i.e., the study of ancient inscriptions. Although I got my hands on it late in my research, I was captivated by his methodical approach and decided to include it in my review. Until then, the interpretation of the occasional misspellings found in inscriptions had been subject to the prejudices of the various scholars: for the supporters of the longevity of the current pronunciation (cf. Papadimitrakopoulos), each isolated case of confusion of, e.g., Η with Ι and vice versa "proved" that, say, Pericles pronounced his Η exactly like, say, Papandreou (i.e., [i]); on the other hand, their opponents (e.g., Chatzidakis) were trying to explain away as many instances as possible (by means of analogy, assimilation, dissimilation, paretymology, etc), and were discarding the rest as vulgar, barbaric or pure chance. Teodorsson establishes his novel (almost mathematical) nomenclature (such as "Phonographeme </ /> = a class of graphemes (or graphemic sequences) corresponding to one phoneme; Allophonograph < > = a member of that class"; thus, <F> <FF> <PH> <GH> are members of </f/> in English), records and catalogs all misspellings (or "orthographic variations" as he calls them) found in inscriptions before ca. 200 BC, dates them, identifies their origin, provides each with a marking related to "negative factors", such as character of the inscription, dialectal influence, etc, and organises his inventory in 180 "variants", from which he attempts to draw conclusions about the "phonemic system of the Attic dialect spoken by the majority of its users in the period 400-340 [BC]". Before proceeding to the main results, Teodorsson lays the foundations of his work (in the form of "Principles", such as "Principle 4: If no evidence can be extracted from material of the period and the dialect investigated, i.e. from primary material or secondary of Sub-class A [=evidence of material from the Attic dialect down to ca. 200 BC], then and only then may material of Sub-class B [=evidence of material from other periods and dialects] be accepted as indirectly relevant"), which are much more solid than in any similar work before him. Thus, Teodorsson develops, so to say, "A Mathematical Theory of Epigraphy", a truly axiomatic theory which can, at least theoretically, be confirmed against its own axioms (or "Principles"), the validity of which gives substance to its lemmas and theorems (i.e., conclusions). It is needless to say that this approach is far more scientific than the "ad hoc criticism of individual instances" (still) found in many works on ancient-Greek pronunciation, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that Teodorsson has taken epigraphy to the next level, just like (Kober and) Ventris did with decipherment.

Unfortunately, (mathematical) theory can only get you so far, and one has to make further assumptions, in order to advance further into some useful result; the "grid" only took Ventris to the identification of the relations among a handful of symbols and he, subsequently, had to undertake the sounds represented by some symbols which were common with the Cypriot syllabary and to infer that some words frequently found in Cretan tablets represented known Cretan place-namesAlthough the identification of the language of the Linear-B tablets with "Mycenaean Greek" grants my language a further 700 years of history, I am personally not convinced by Ventris' "decipherment". Its main virtue lies with the fact that it is far more methodical and scientific than the voodoo employed by all previous "decipherers". However, one cannot overlook its obvious shortcomings (having been amply pointed out before enthusiasm overtook scepticism):
A) In accordance with the spelling rules set out by Ventris, the number of possible syllables represented by a CV (consonant-vowel) syllable associated with a "deciphered" Linear-B sign can be as high as 70; thus, a group of three signs may be "read" in a few hundred thousand different ways and the chance of finding a trisyllabic word (in any language) among these possibilities is rather high.
B) The Greek of that time (XIII BC) is hardly known and, judging by the considerable difference between Homeric Greek of VIII BC and Classical Greek of V BC, it must have been unlike anything we are aware of; to try to exclusively associate the "decoded" words with the known archaic vocabulary is a futile task and we should expect to have significant gaps in the "deciphered" texts (yet, the aspiring decipherers have no trouble identifying every single encrypted word).
C) The nature of the unearthed tablets is such that no coherent text can be expected, since they are lists of items, which only need to be mapped to isolated nouns; the few short texts, which have been found, when "deciphered", result in a syntax that, irrespective of how primitive the language was, hardly seems credible.
Under these conditions, the possibilities for the would-be decipherer are so broad that one could have easily read even "prehistoric English" (or, in the words of Allen's advisor: "Mr. Ventris' rules of spelling have one advantage and only one; they allow him to make something like Greek out of many successions of syllables that would otherwise be thought barbarous. Against this, they have the serious disadvantage that neither Mr. Ventris nor anyone else can ever be sure what is in fact meant.", BEAT56, p. 7)! Undoubtedly, the "Mycenaean" scholars are worth a lot of admiration for having produced some very imaginative interpretations of the "decipherments", but so are the fortunetellers, who can make up a detailed future by looking at one's palm or cup of coffee. It is for these reasons that I consider the Linear-B riddle not only unsolved, but even unsolvable.
, while Shannon had to assume a Gaussian channel and infinite codeword length, in order to derive some closed-form results.The big difference is, of course, that, if Shannon's assumptions are wrong, the predictions of his theory would be proven wrong by practice (i.e., source and channel coding would not work as predicted), whereas it is not exactly easy to find some Mycenaeans that would verify Ventris' and Chadwick's decipherment. Similarly, in order for Teodorsson to study the phonemic mergers of the Attic dialect, he was obliged to "adopt a phonemic system presupposed for the period ca. 500-440" (which is essentially the "classical Attic" phonemic system accepted in all Catholic works), as a tentative working hypothesis (pp. 35-41). Furthermore, he reaches his conclusions by means of a maze of cross-references, so that the reader who wishes to verify the conclusions has to work his way through Teodorsson's grouping of instances into "orthographic variations" and of variations into "graphemic neutralizations" and tables of statistical accumulations, while it is not always clear how one is to make use of the markings ("negative factors") provided to each instances. All in all, it is a book that cannot be read lightly and cannot be rejected at whim.

The reaction of the Catholics to the work of Teodorsson was that of a child who just learned there is no Santa Claus, ranging from disbelief to total denial. Allen, whose book (in its first edition) is severely criticised by Teodorsson (e.g., on p. 49, n. 47) for both his incorrect statements as regards "orthographic variants" and his downplaying of the most important evidence, merely devotes to Teodorsson only a few lines in his foreword to the third edition (ALLE87, p. ix-x), stating that "his [=Teodorsson's] interpretation of the variants is often surprising, leading as it does to the conclusion that by the mid-4th century B.C. the vowel system of Attic was already virtually that of modern Greek" (God forbid!); his understanding of Teodorsson's work is that he "gives more weight to relative infrequent 'progressive' variants than to more numerous 'conservative' forms" (as if the rare spelling "enuf" for "enough" would not be an indication of the non-phonetic significance of the latter spelling), neglects to correct the blatant inaccuracies and understatements pointed out to him (e.g., on pp. 70 and 74 of his third edition) and is content to declare that "I find myself largely in agreement with the opinions of C. J. Ruijgh in his review of Teodorsson's [...] book".

In fact, Ruijgh's short book review (RUIJ78, pp. 79-89) is the only non-superficial assessment of Teodorsson's book that I have seen, so this is probably a good place for a... review of the review. Ruijgh provides the basis for Allen's comments (who, judging from his above-quoted misrepresentation of Teodorsson's method, seems to have merely copied Ruijgh's statements rather than studied the book he is commenting on): "M.T. [= Monsieur Teodorsson] arrive à la conclusion surprenante que le système vocalique de l'attique de 400-340 av. J.-C. était déjà proche de celui du grec moderne|M.T. [= Mr. Teodorsson] arrives at the surprising conclusion that the vowel system of Attic of 400-340 BC was already close to that of modern Greek" (it is only surprising if one is biased toward the contrary). Ruijgh's general assessment comprises a reasonable objection ("il s'est insuffisamment rendu compte de la portée de ses cinq 'principes' et de ses sept 'facteurs' négatifs|his five 'principles' and seven negative 'factors' have been insufficiently taken into account"; actually, the correct statement would be that it is difficult to assess to what extent the principles and negative factors have been considered) and an unacceptable apriorism ("Il est d'ailleurs a priori peu vraisemblable que 80% des changements du vocalisme survenus entre ±700 av. J.-C. et l'époque actuelle se soient réalisés au cours de 3 siècles|It is also a priori unlikely that 80% of the vowel changes between ±700 BC and the current era [allegedly] occurred over 3 centuries"; this is a common, little-thought prejudice discussed later). After this summary rejection, Ruijgh proceeds to a more detailed discussion of four particular points, where he essentially echoes some 19th-century arguments, which 20th-century linguistics has still not shaken off (for example, he refers to the spelling conventions of IV BC Boeotian, which allegedly suggest the Attic pronunciation, without noticing that Teodorsson had already convincingly, as it appears, addressed this century-old argument) and resorts to what Teodorsson stigmatises as "ad hoc criticism of individual instances" (see above). Finally, Ruijgh provides "encore quelques remarques portant sur des détails|some further remarks on details", wherein he points out some minor deficiencies, some of which are correctly identified (for example, "M.T. suppose (p. 293) un changement [u] > [w] (semi-voyelle) dans les diphtongues à second élément υ. A vrai dire, la différence phonétique entre [au] et [aw] tautosyllabiques nous échappe.|Mr T. assumes (p. 293) a change [u] > [w] (semivowel) in the diphthongs with second element υ. Truly speaking, the phonetic difference between tautosyllabic [au] and [aw] eludes us.", which is a major blunder on behalf of Teodorsson), without however disqualifying the remainder of the book. All in all, there is a difference of about one century between the arguments projected by Ruijgh and the methodology of Teodorsson, as exemplified by the weird and obsolete 19th-century notation used by the former (e.g., ẹ, ȩ, ọ, ü for [e], [ɛ], [o], [y]), whereas the latter's book is fully IPA compliant (possibly for the first time in a work on ancient-Greek pronunciation).

Although it was the only serious study of synchronic evidence (i.e., data contemporary with the time period of interest) for classical Attic in three-quarters of a century (MEIS00 having been the only earlier relevant work), Teodorsson was not received well by the Catholics, undoubtedly due to the boldness of his conclusions and their non-compliance with the pre-conceived theories. Instead, they prefer the more conservative (=conventional) conclusions of Threatte, who is hailed by Allen (ALLE87, p. ix) as the "New Meisterhans". Unfortunately, I do not have access to a copy of Threatte's colossal book (THRE80, published six years after Teodorsson's) and I have to make do with its parts that are visible online.


A number of sources provide useful information on linguistic matters without taking part in the debate. I list, herein below, only those who made an impression on me and/or are extensively quoted in these webpages.

Paul M. Lloyd

I accidentally run into Lloyd's extremely interested book on the evolution from Latin to Spanish (LLOY87) while seeking possible evidence of assibilation of consonantal I (i.e., [j]→[ʒ, d͡ʒ, z]) in Romance. Even though it is not available for download, the entire book is available for reading online.

Before discussing Latin and its evolution, it includes a chapter "On the Nature of Linguistic Change", wherein all major recent developments in historical linguistics are presented. I was glad to learn that real progress has been achieved in this field of science in the last century, even overcoming obsessions and prejudices of the past. Many of the views expressed appear to confirm the objections of Papadimitrakopoulos against Chatzidakis' adamant linguistic perspective, for example

The remainder of the book deals with the phonological and morphological changes involved in the transition from classical and vulgar Latin to Western Romance and, particularly, Old Castilian. This part of the book sheds ample light on the sounds of Latin and Romance and the sound changes spawned by Latin phonology, which may prove useful in drawing conclusions about possible similar developments in Greek. These aspects will be presented in the respective chapters, as need arises.

Apostolos Arvanitopoulos

One of my "trophies" from my "bookstore raids" was an excellent book on Epigraphy (ARVA37) by Prof. Apostolos Arvanitopoulos. Its main feature is the countless facsimiles of (dated and decoded) ancient inscriptions, which is the closest a common mortal without access to a university library can get to this very interesting world. It becomes evident (to "rookies" like myself) that the ancient inscriptions are not as... clear-cut as one is led to believe by their transcriptions in the various books (in accented minuscules and free from spelling errors); in some of them, particularly the earliest ones, it is difficult to even distinguish the letters, much less to make sense of them. If such difficulties and uncertainties are encountered for the most well-known of ancient languages and the clearest of scripts, one can only wonder how science can be certain about the decipherment of mystical scripts for little-known (or even unknown) languages.

What caught my eye while browsing the book (and convinced me to buy it) was a spelling mistake noted in IGA 349 (p. 157), specifically that the stone cutter wrote ΠΟΛΗΑΣ (=πόληας) instead of the expected "homeric" ΠΟΛΙΑΣ (=πόλιας); as Arvanitopoulos estimates the inscription's date around 480 BC, I thought I saw a definite proof of iotacism (i.e., that Η=Ι=[i]) in Attic of V BC (I later realised that a single/few spelling mistake/s that may also have other explanations is/are not enough evidence to establish the phonetic identity of two letters). Further useful information in the book includes

Konstantinos Siamakis

In the course of my quest, several people, particularly acquaintances of my father's, offered to "contribute" some work of theirs, which eventually proved to be of little (if at all) value. An exception was Konstantinos Siamakis, who has i.a. written a book on "The Alphabet" (SIAM88). Although he is rather radical in his views, he is very knowledgeable and, in this particular book, he provides a lot of useful information. Contrary to many contemporary Greek authors, who strive to "prove" a Greek origin of the Alphabet, the book's main idea is that the Alphabet, being the most flexible script, was the result of the need to develop (extensive) literature and, since the Jews were the only people that had a significant literature (i.e., the Torah) before the Greeks, the "inventor" of the alphabet was Moses.This hypothesis is compatible with the presently-accepted theory that the alphabet originated in Egypt by Semitic slaves/immigrants.

The part of his book that caught my attention was the "bashing" of the "charlatans" that claimed (and are recognised by academic circles) to have deciphered ancient scripts from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Hittite cuneiform and of those who claim to be able to "read" such texts, a criticism which implies that what we take for granted (the ability to unravel past mysteries) might not be as well-founded as we think.I have to confess that, although I am skeptical about both the acceptance and the rejection of the various decipherments, I believe he has some point in his assessment. Some of his critique has been taken directly from Chadwick's own account (mentioned later). Curiously though, he never questions the validity of Ventris' decipherment of Linear B (he even "contributes" two "readings" of Linear-B symbols), possibly because it has granted Greek seven more centuries of written tradition. His attitude towards the "decipherment industry" is probably best reflected in §1,617: "ὅταν ἕνας «ἀποκρυπτογραφοῦσε» μιὰ προαλφαβητική γραφὴ πρῶτος, ἢ «διάβαζε» καὶ «μετέφραζε» ἕνα ὡρισμένο προαλφαβητικὸ κείμενο, γινόταν ἀσυζητητεὶ παραδεκτὸς ἀπ' ὅλους, καὶ κανεὶς πλέον δὲν ἀποπειρῶνταν νὰ «διαβάσῃ» τὸ κείμενο ποὺ «διάβασε» ἐκεῖνος. ... κάθε εἰκονογραφικὸ κείμενο ὅμως τῆς Αἰγύπτου ἢ τῆς Μ. Ἀσίας, ἢ κάθε σφηνοειδὲς τῆς Μεσοποταμίας ἢ τῆς Περσίας ἢ τῆς Μ. Ἀσίας, ἢ κάθε γραμμικὸ τῆς Αἰγύπτου, ἀπό τότε ποὺ βρέθηκε μέχρι σήμερα, ποὺ ἡ «μετάφρασί» του κυκλοφορεῖ καὶ χρησιμοποιεῖται σὰν πηγή, τὸ ἔχει διαβάσει μόνον ἕνας ἄνθρωπος - ὁ Θεὸς καὶ ἡ ψυχή του ξέρουν πῶς τὸ διάβασε -, αὐτὸς ποὺ τὸ «μετέφρασε» κι ἐξέδωσε τὴ «μετάφρασι». ἀπὸ κεῖ καὶ πέρα ὅλοι οἱ ἄλλοι, εἰδικοὶ καὶ μὴ εἰδικοί, τὸ ξέρουν μόνον ἀπὸ τὴ «μετάφρασί» του! ὅπως ἀκριβῶς καὶ τοὺς τερατόμορφους ἐπιβάτες ἑνός ἱπτάμενου δίσκου τοὺς ἔχει «δῆ» μόνο αὐτὸς ποὺ «εἶδε» τὸν ἱπτἀμενο δίσκο κατὰ τὴν προσγείωσι καὶ ἀπογείωσί του, οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι ξέρουν ὅ,τι ξέρουν μόνο ἀπό τὴν ἀφήγησί του.|when someone «deciphered» a pre-alphabetic writing first, or «read» and «translated» a particular pre-alphabetic text, he became unquestionably accepted by everyone, and no-one ever attempted to «read» the text that he «read». ... but every pictographic text of Egypt or Asia Minor, or every cuneiform of Mesopotamia or Persia or Asia Minor, or every linear of Egypt, from the time it was discovered until today that its «translation» is circulated and used as a source, has been read by one person alone - God only know how he read it -, by the one who «translated» it and published the «translation». since then, everybody else, specialists and non-specialists alike, know it only through its «translation»! exactly as the monstrous passengers of a UFO have only been «seen» by the person that «saw» the UFO as it was landing and taking off, whereas all others know what they know from his recount." I am afraid that, as will be seen in subsequent chapters, he is not very wrong in his assessment.

This last point of his (that the conclusions of a cited reference are - sometimes? - considered a priory correct and are adopted without having been scrutinised), although not easy to verify, is important to bear in mind when examining the Catholic or Orthodox arguments; oftentimes, an argument is based on evidence taken directly from a referenced source, which may be either inaccurate or plainly wrong (e.g., as we will later see, a symbol in a certain inscription had been wrongly transcribed by Röhl and Bechtel with "h" and was uncontestedly adopted by Blass).

Simos Menardos

I have saved the best for last, as Menardos is my favourite out of all the authors I have consulted. I stumbled upon him (i.e., his book) after a painstaking investigation of a dusty bookshelf in a central bookstore. I was immediately fascinated by his impeccable argumentation, lack of fanaticism and down-to-earth approach.

The book (MENA98) I found contained four lectures he gave at Oxford (when he served as Lecturer of Medieval and Modern Greek from 1908 until 1914), alas translated in Greek, thus not preserving his original English text, which I cannot quote. In the first lecture, he apologises for using the modern-Greek (=Orthodox) pronunciation while reading Greek authors of the Roman times and earlier; he explains that this is a necessity due to the "protestant" nature of the Catholic pronunciation and points out that Catholicism, although justified in many aspects, has been based on prejudices and bias, which has often led to the wrong conclusions (he points out, for one, that the originally discarded Orthodox pronunciation of ΟΥ as [u] was eventually proved to be correct, turning, as he wittily puts it, the poor modern Greeks from subjects of the Sultan to soldiers of Miltiades, at least as far as the quality of this particular sound is concerned), as well as ignorance (the earlier Catholics thinking that, e.g., Thucydides and Plutarch were contemporaries); he also submits that, for reasons of consistency, if one does not want to use the present Greek pronunciation for the ancient texts because it is not "genuine", one should use different pronunciations for, e.g., Alcman, Sappho, Thucydides, Zeno and the Gospels, a task that is both impractical and unattainable; he identifies the appeal of the ancient pronunciation with that of the Attic rhetors, who had become "sybarites of the ears" to such a degree that Demosthenes himself had to practice with pebbles in his mouth, in order to obtain an acceptable accent; he concludes by stating that the ancient Athenians would probably laugh at our efforts to capture that perfect accent within a few strange rules, without even the help of a few pebbles from Phaleron! In the second lecture, he unfolds his main theory, namely that the phonological changes that led from the old to the new pronunciation (particularly the monophthongisation of the diphthongs) were triggered by the loss of "prosody", the musical nature of the accents and its contrast with quantity, which was an accent "of a different nature". In the third lecture, he points out how phonemic mergers could have led to new morphological features (e.g., third declension feminine plural developing in analogy to first declension, due to loss of vowel quantity). Finally, in the last lecture, he talks about the role of the Church and the New Testament in, initially, opposing and, subsequently, promoting conservatism (mainly Atticism); he also quotes the conclusion of Chatzidakis' scholarly research that the Greek language had changed more in the 400 years between Homer and the Golden Age than it has in the 1800 years between the Evangelists and their time (i.e., the beginning of XX AD).

These are his views in a nutshell. His other works (I have retrieved his inaugural lecture at Oxford, MENA08, and a collection of excellently translated ancient poems in modern Greek, MENA24, which is prefaced by an inspired prologue on ancient poetry and education) go along the same lines. His main theory that the divinity of classical Attic was compromised when there was a breech in its olympic hull (="prosody"), although appealing, does not fare well with the "accepted" chronology of the phonological changes, but he generally does not jump to unverified and premature conclusions, as illustrated by his observation that "The Cypriots call the condition of a servant δουλοσύνη and the employment of a maker of sieves μαντοσύνη. Both these words occur in Homer, of course with the different meaning of δοῦλος and μάντις. Have they been preserved or coined again?" (MENA08, p. 20); any other scholar would probably immediately declare the "preservation" of Homeric forms in Cypriot, but Menardos is instead asking the right questions: could it be that the cypriot (compound) words were actually rebuilt from the (new meaning of the) words δοῦλος and μάντις and the common derivational suffix -σύνη?

He also submits some interesting anecdotes about the evolution of Greek; for example "Ἡ παλαιὰ ποιητικὴ γλῶσσα ἦτον ἤδη ἀπηρχειωμένη κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους τῶν Εὐαγγελιστῶν καὶ ἐντός τῆς Ἑλλάδος, ὁ δὲ Πλούταρχος μαρτυρεῖ ὅτι αὐτὴ ἡ Πυθία δὲν κατώρθωνε νὰ στιχουργῇ τότε ἀψόγους ἑξαμέτρους. Κατόπιν οἱ μαθηταὶ τῶν ῥητορικῶν σχολῶν, οἱ διδασκόμενοι κατὰ τὸν β´ και γ´ μ.Χ. αἰῶνα χάριν τῆς ῥητορικῆς τὴν νεκρὰν πλέον προσῳδίαν, ἐνόμιζαν τὴν διδασκαλίαν ἐκείνην ὡς ἁληθινὴν βάσανον καὶ ἀναφέρεται ἀπάντησις μαθητοῦ πρὸς διδάσκαλον, ἐρωτῶντα περὶ ποινῆς λῃστοῦ, 'Κέλευσον αὐτὸν ἀρχαῖα ἐκμανθάνειν'.|The old poetic language was already antiquated at the times of the Evangelists even within Greece proper, while Plutarch submits that even Pythia did not manage then to versify in flawless hexameters. Subsequently, the students of the rhetoric schools, who were taught in the second and third century AD the already dead ancient prosody for the sake of rhetoric, regarded that teaching as a real torture and it is reported that a student responded to a teacher asking about the penalty for a thief 'Order him to learn thoroughly ancient [Greek]'." (MENA24, p. δ´).

I would like to close this chapter with my all-time favourite quote about the character of the Greek language, which could but be his (MENA08, p. 22): "In fact, passing the Ionian, the Cretan Sea, the Archipelago, the Propontis, the Euxine itself, in every town you visit, you hear καλῶς ἦρθες, ξένε [welcome, stranger], as in the times of Nausicaa and Iphigenia. Then you would, perhaps, assign to this not unknown language the epithet - so many times conventionally applied to it - immortal"!


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