Pronunciation of Ancient Greek in Teaching - Germany


The situation in present-day German education may be representative of that in many other European countries. The teaching of Greek is based on a roughly Erasmian model, but in practice it is heavily skewed towards the phonological system of the host language.

Thus, German speakers do not use a fricative for θ, but give it the same pronunciation as τ, namely, although φ and χ are realised as the fricatives and ~ . ζ is usually pronounced as an affricate, but voiceless, like German z . In return, σ is often voiced, according to the rules for pre-vocalic s in German, . ευ and ηυ are not distinguished from οι, both pronounced, following German eu, äu. Similarly, ει and αι are often not distinguished, both pronounced just like the similar-looking German ei, ai, while sometimes ει is pronounced . No attempt is usually made to reproduce the accentuation contrast between acute and circumflex accents.

While these deviations are often acknowledged as compromises in teaching, awareness of other German-based idiosyncrasies is less widespread. German speakers typically try to reproduce vowel-length distinctions in stressed syllables, but often fail to do so in non-stressed syllables, where they are also prone to use a reduction of e-sounds to . Distinctive length of double vs. single consonants is usually not observed, and German patterns whereby vowel length interrelates with closedness vs. openness of syllables may affect the realisation of Greek vowels before consonant clusters even in stressed syllables: ε, η = ~ ; ο, ω = ~ ; ι, ῑ = ~ ; υ, ῡ = ~ ; ου = ~ .

In reading poetry, it is customary to render the scansion patterns by strong dynamic accents on the long syllables, counter to the natural accentuation of the words, and not by actual length.

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