« PreviousContinue »
I. THE ALPHABET. The Greek Alphabet consists of Twenty-four Letters; namelyA a
'Εψιλον Epsilon 2
Κάππα Kappa k
Λάμβδα Lambda 1
Nu a ૬
'Y ψιλόν Upsilon και
(1) Consult Excursus 1, at the end of this volume.
(2) Smooth, or unaspirated e; so called to distinguish it from H, which was anciently one of the marks of the rough breathing, or aspirate. (3) Small o, to distinguish it from onega (w), or great (i.e. long) o.
The German scholars have introduced the practice of using s at the end of syllables likewise, when they make an entire word with which another is compounded; as, δυσμενής, εισφέρω, προςείπον. But this practice, which has not even the authority of MSS. in its favour, cannot be systematically introduced without inconvenience to orthography; and it is not agreeable to the genius of the ancients, who were not accustomed to separate, by the understanding, the different parts of discourse.
(5) Smooth v, to distinguish it from the aspirated v (Y), which was one of the ancient signs of the digamma (F), and also passed into the Latin V, as, Vidi, Aivom, (ævum).
II. PRONUNCIATION OF THE LETTERS.' A, when long, is sounded like the English a in far; when short, like the a in fat.
r, before a vowel, like the hard English g; but before another
ช, and also before K, É, X, is sounded like ng in sing. Thus ångeros, pronounce ang-ělos ; åcykòv, ang-kon, &c.
E, like the short English.e in met.
Z, like a soft d passing gently into the sound of z. Thus, Cáw, pronounce d-zao; uerítw, melid-zo, &c. H, like the English a in cane.3
, like the English th in think. I, when long, like the English e in me; when short, like the i in pin.
Y, like the French u in une, or the German ü.
PRONUNCIATION OF THE DIPHTHONGS.4
(1) The proriunciation here given, is that which has been adopted at the Institution from which the present work emanates. It is by no means offered as accurate in every respect; but merely as giving, in some cases, an approximation to the ancient sound; and, in others, the result of modern, though erroneous, usage. A separate work on this much-contested point will appear at no very distant day.
(2) The true sound of the y before a vowel would appear to have resembled that of the soft g in the German liegen.
(3) The n appears to have had, originally, a middle sound between a and e; and the grounds on which this opinion rests are as follow : 1. The contraction of αε and eα into η; as, χράεται, χρήται, ζάεις, ζης, τείχεα, τείχη, αληθέα, αληθή. 2. The augment η, η, and α, αι, and αυ; as, ήκουον, ήνεσα, and ηύδα. 3. The Doric and Eolic change of η into α; as, φάμα, Dor. for φήμη; πύλα, Εol. for πύλη.
(4) The primitive sound of the diphthongs appears to have been a-l, a-v, 6-1, 6-v, &c. The pronunciation of av is obtained from the barking of the dog (aŭ, aŭ) in Aristophanes, Vesp. 903. The primitive sound of oi seems to have resembled the syllables owy in the word snowy, though, of course, with more of a diphthongal sound.
Ev, like the English word yew.
III. DIVISION OF THE LETTERS.
Seven of the letters are vowels; namely, a, €, , , 0, v, w. The remaining seventeen are consonants.
1. VOWELS. 1. The seven vowels are divided into three classes ; namely, short, long, and doubtful. Thus :
Doubtful, a, ., v. 2. The short vowels are those, the pronunciation of which occupies the shortest possible time.
3. The long vowels are those which require in their pronunciation twice as much time as the short.
4. The doubtful are those which can be pronounced both as short and long in different words; being short in some words, and long in others.
2. DIPHTHONGS. 1. The vowels are combined in a variety of ways, two and two together, into one sound, and hence are formed the diphthongs.
2. Diphthongs are formed by the union of a back vowel? (a, e, o) with a front vowel (s, v), producing one sound.
(1) The student must not suppose, from the epithet “ doubtful,” as applied to these vowels, that there is, in every case, something wavering and uncertain in their nature. The meaning is simply this: the short vowel e has its corresponding long vowel », and the short vowel o its corresponding long vowel w; but in the case of a, l, v, there is no separate vowel-sign for the long and short quantities, and therefore the length or shortness of the vowel is to be determined, not by the eye, but by the application of some rule. (2) The sounds of a, e, o, being formed by the organs in the back B 2
3. Of the diphthongs, six are proper, where both vowels are heard combined into one sound; and six improper, where the sound of one vowel predominates over that of the other.
4. The proper diphthongs are, therefore, al, av, el, ev, ol, ov. The improper are ą, n, w, where the i, or second vowel, is subscribed ; and also mu, vi, wv, which last three are not of as common occurrence as ą, », w.?
3. CONSONANTS. 1. Of the seventeen consonants, nine are mutes; that is, letters whereof no distinct sound can be produced without the addition of a vowel.
2. These nine are divided into three classes; namely, soft, intermediate, and aspirate. Thus, Three soft,
T, K, T,
ф, х, в. 3. These, when read perpendicularly, form the three orders of mutes, each soft consonant having its corresponding intermediate and aspirate. Thus,
п, в, ф,
T, 0, 0.
part of the mouth, may be called back-vowels; and the sounds of i and v, being formed in the front part of the mouth, may be denominated front-vowels.
(1) Originally, the a, m, w were closely allied to al, el, 01; and only so distinguished, that, in the latter, a, e and o were sounded of the same length with the 1; while, in the former, the long sound of ā, ē, and Ō preceded, and the i merely followed as a short echo. This accurate pronunciation, however, appears to have been lost at an early period, even among the Greeks themselves; and therefore, at present, we pronounce ạ, ?, w in the same way as ā, n, w; and the subscribed or underwritten iota serves as a mere grammatical sign, for determining the derivation, and for distinguishing the forms. Originally, the i, even in these improper diphthongs, was written by the side of the other sound; and in the use of capitals, this practice still obtains. Thus we write adns, and 'Aions, passing over, in either case, the sound of the . So, again, gòn, bat with the capital letter, 'Ωιδή.