Pronunciation Tool - Omicron

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Robert Wazlavek | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Jul 22 2012 9:40 PM

I want to start by saying that I do not know Greek.  I'm a beginning student and am teaching myself, in fact.  My question is regarding the pronunciation of Omicron in particular.  Does it make the "little o" sound as in omelet and omnipotent?  Or the "big o" sound as in phone and bone.

My understanding up to this point is that Omicron makes the "little o" sound, and that Omega makes the "big o" sound effectively.  However, I've noticed that the Logos pronunciation tool seems to pronounce Omicron and Omega the same, so that the vowels in the words λογος and ζωή make the same "big o" sound (this is just an example).  Is this correct?  Are Omicron and Omega supposed to sound the same or nearly the same?  I've been told that the word "logos" is pronounced with both Omicrons as "little o's" rather than the typical English reading of "big o's".

So I don't know what to think.  Is the pronunciation tool wrong in regards to making the Omicrons sound like Omegas, meaning what I've understood so far is indeed correct?  Or is the tool correct, meaning I've been mispronouncing Omicron and words it's used in?  Thanks in advance for any help.

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 22 2012 11:01 PM

Some pronounce the omicron by shaping the mouth like the "long o" but pronouncing it in he back of the throat like the "short o". I believe this is the pronunciation Logos uses in their "Learn Hebrew and Greek" DVDs.

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Posts 325
Robert Wazlavek | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 22 2012 11:07 PM

I don't know anything about those DVDs.  I'm talking specifically about the "Pronunciation" tool found in the L4 Tools drop down menu.

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 4:34 AM

Robert Wazlavek:
I'm talking specifically about the "Pronunciation" tool found in the L4 Tools drop down menu.

Concur Logos 4 pronunciation tool (or right click => lemma => pronounce) has a different omicron enunciation than Greek Audio New Testament

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 2136
David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 7:03 AM

If both tools (Pronunciation and DVDs) are developed by people with similar training, then the approach may be similar.

I thought this thread http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/koinonia/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=283 had a good discussion on the changes between Classical, Koine & Modern Greek. especially about 4 posts down where the poster comments on the similarity between the O mikron and the O mega.

Perhaps it also has been influenced by localized ear for language. e.g. Ask an American from deep Texas to pronounce "about" and ask a Canadian from Toronto (I'm sure there are regional differences within the English and French parts of this country) to pronounce the same word and you will think they are two very different words.

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Posts 20
Gregory Pittman | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 11:22 AM

Although I'm not a languages scholar, all of my colleagues who are pronounce the "o" in Logos as a short o sound. Therefore, I've always thought Logos pronounces its own name incorrectly.

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 11:56 AM

I have always pronounced the Omicron as the short O - like in olive - and the Omega as the long O. I believe that was what I was taught in seminary.

But last week, while studying Romans 12:2, I noticed the reader in Logos' Greek Audio NT pronounced the omicrom in μεταμορφόω as a long O. That was while pronouncing the lemma form in the Bible Word Study tool.

So I am a little less sure now.

 

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 325
Robert Wazlavek | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 1:11 PM

Thanks for your thoughts everyone.  Seems as if you all have the same thoughts as I do.  I guess the Pronunciation tool is just wrong then.  Oh well.  I guess that makes it a little less useful and/or trustworthy.

Michael Childs:

I have always pronounced the Omicron as the short O - like in olive - and the Omega as the long O. I believe that was what I was taught in seminary.

But last week, while studying Romans 12:2I noticed the reader in Logos' Greek Audio NT pronounced the omicrom in μεταμορφόω as a long O. That was while pronouncing the lemma form in the Bible Word Study tool.

So I am a little less sure now.

Does anything change in pronunciation since the Omicron is followed by an Omega?  I've read that there are no silent letters in Greek (except the iota subscript), so I would guess not.  Since that incident stuck out in your mind, I'm assuming that the GANT usually pronounces the Omicron with a short O.  Maybe the guy just had a hard time pronouncing both.  Stick out tongue

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 1:42 PM

Robert Wazlavek:
Does anything change in pronunciation since the Omicron is followed by an Omega?  I've read that there are no silent letters in Greek (except the iota subscript), so I would guess not.  Since that incident stuck out in your mind, I'm assuming that the GANT usually pronounces the Omicron with a short O.  Maybe the guy just had a hard time pronouncing both.

It did stick out to me, but I am certainly no scholar.  And the man who did the GANT is a scholar, but even a scholar might mispronounce an omicron once in a while.  Odds are that he is right and I am wrong.  I listened to it serveral times to be sure that I was hearing two long O's. I wondered about your point about the omicron followed by an omega, but I didn't pursue it any farther.  (Had a sermon to write.)   Maybe someone reading this will know. 

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 4:09 PM

Smyth (Greek Grammar) has two pronunciations - on page 7 is a chart with his classical pronunciation "with modifications" - most of the modifications are to vowel sounds and spirantizing the aspirates Phi Chi and Theta. To get to what he thought the original vowel sounds were, one must go to §24 on pages 12-13, where Smyth considers Omicron and Omega to have had a difference in quality, not just length, but his treatment of the original Greek vowels in general is that the short vowels are more closed than the long vowels, which feels a little counter-intuitive to native English speakers. So Smyth's Omicron is like the 'o' in 'obey' while his original Omega is more open, like the o in French 'encore' (click to hear) (which to my ears sounds fairly close to, but not quite the same as, the 'u' in 'hurt' - but then, did French 'encore' sound different a hundred years ago?). Stephen Daitz' recordings of restored classical pronunciation maintain a similar quality distinction, but the Omega is even more open, like the 'a' in 'saw' (you can hear a snip of Daitz running through the alphabet at the first link here). W. Sidney Allen's Vox Graeca (one of the standard works consulted by folk trying to get at the ancient pronunciation) considers the difference between Omicron and Omega to be one of quantity, not quality - that is, just a matter of length, but he recommends a more open sound for both: Allen's Omicron is like the 'o' in the German 'Gott' (click to hear), while his Omega is like the 'a' in 'saw'. Mark Miner (who has done a fair bit of recording Greek and Latin dramatically at a conversational pace) has a number of recordings of the restored ancient pronunciation, and generally he also treats the difference between Omega and Omicron as one of length/quantity rather than quality, but both of his o-sounds are more rounded 'o' as in 'bone' (though I think I hear him open up the sound slightly from time to time - you can find a sample of Miner's reading here). In using the rounded "long o" for both Omicron and Omega, Miner's recordings match the modified chart at the beginning (§1) of Smyth (for those specific letters - Miner doesn't spirantize Theta, Phi and Chi, for example).

I was taught something like Miner's pronunciation and was genuinely surprised to go back and find that 1) there are differences between Daitz and Allen (I thought that Allen was Daitz' main source), 2) that they both use the more open 'a' in 'saw' for Omega.

I imagine some of the differences in opinion might relate to what evidence one is looking the most closely at. For Smyth's vowel system, examining all the dialects of Ancient Greek seems to have been a driving factor, while Allen's treatment might rely more on looking at the spelling of Greek words borrowed by or transliterated into Latin (which he also wrote a book about: Vox Latina). Other sources might look at 'typos' in inscriptions and manuscripts to figure out what letters sounded alike to writers of those documents. (And, of course, vowel sounds routinely get modified slightly based on the consonants that follow - particularly R/Rho, but also nasals, so one has to be careful not to only look at the vowel in isolation, but also what comes after, whether one is comparing Greek dialects, Latin transliterations or typos.)

But this is all talking about Greek as spoken in Athens in the Classical period - it's not even getting into the debates about what, when and where various changes took place in the Hellenistic period (if the goal is to somehow represent the first century pronunciation - and perhaps one should at least ask the question 'where in the first century?'), and the Erasmian pronunciation, while closer to ancient Greek than Modern Greek, spirantizes the aspirates, which, at least according to Smyth, wasn't a change that happened until after 300 CE (§26), pretty much at the end of the Hellenistic period. I haven't explored the Erasmian pronunciation much, but I'd imagine if one were to survey the textbooks that use some variation of it, one would find at least as much variety as is found in Classical pronunciations.

Even with the homogenizing influence of short travel times, television and telecommunications, Arabic is pronounced differently in Aleppo than in Damascus today. So I think we can safely assume that in the Hellenistic period there was not just one pronunciation of Greek (nor was there in the Classical period).

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 24 2012 8:12 AM

Vincent,

Thanks for this excellent information.  It is very enlightening. 

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 1
James Cizek | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 4 2012 9:15 AM

Please see the following:

 

http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=logos&submit=Submit

 

It appears as though the correct answer is:

la-gas for Philosophy and Religion

low-goes for trademark.

Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Oct 4 2012 9:34 AM

Vincents post was excellent. This goes back to an issue even with linguistics: it's a historical science not an experimental science. No one is left around from 100 A.D. to tell us how John or Paul pronounced words. What we can do is give it our best guess based on evidence. As a result, as many as there are intelligent people doing research there are an equal number of variances in pronunciation. I prefer American Erasmian simply because it's simple and most American colleges teach some form of it.

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