Re: Greek translation help, please

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Posted by Joanna on April 01, 2001 at 04:08:01:

In Reply to: Re: Greek translation help, please posted by Brian on March 30, 2001 at 03:57:40:

: : : : : : : Syghariti'ria ke stous dyo' sas. Sas e'fhome ka'the aga'pi ke eftihi'a gia si'mera, a'vrio ke gia' pa'nda.

: : : : : : : "Congratulations to you both. I wish you all the love and happiness today, tomorrow and always".

: : : : : : Without offending Alexandros I just want to clarify his words so that you can pronounce them more correctly. Wherever Alexandros has put the punctuation mark ', you emphasise the vowel before that mark.

: : : : : : The word "dyo'" should actually be pronounced as "thio'" whereupon the "th" is uttered like in the word "the". Wherever Alexandros has "y" such as in the above-mentioned word 'dyo' it is pronounced the same as "i" such as in "is".

: : : : : : Pronounce the word "gia" as "ya".

: : : : : : The sound "gh" comes from the throat and is a soft sounding "g". It is best if you ask a greek person to pronounce it for you so you can get alittle practise. The letter for the sound is 'gamma' (Γ).

: : : : : : Alexandros did a more direct translation of each letter from the actual greek. But when it comes to speaking the above, it may be best to follow my hints.

: : : : : : No offence Alexandros. You did a good job.

: : : : : Surely the 'y' you talk about is pronounced 'ee' as in 'meet' although clipped short and not as 'i' as in 'is'. Still, this is wrong in many greek translation books as well! Brian

: : : : Brian, I tried to make the sound (the 'ee' clipped short) as you described above but I found that it sounds very similar if not exactly the same as 'i'.

: : : : Alexandros used 'y' because the letter in greek capitals (that is, ΣΥΝΓΑΡΗΤΗΡΙΑ = SYNGHARITIRIA)
: : : : is the same as a 'Y' as you can see. In greek there are three 'i's: Ι ι, Η η, Υ υ.

: : : : These are all pronounced exactly the same. They are used in the written words often to distinguish between gender for example.

: : : : As far as I have read, I have noticed that with the literal english translation of greek words there are certain english letters assigned to each greek letter (particularly vowels). For example 'η' in english is 'e'. For instance, Αθήνα = Athena. Ηλεκτρικό = Electric(al). But that doesn't necessarily correspond to a literal phonetic translation. Αθήνα is actually pronounced as "Athina". The 'i' as in "is".

: : : : This should explain why I said that "y" should be pronounced as "i". So that the person uttering the letter would not get the sound wrong and perhaps pronounced it as e.g. in "ps-y-che". --This is another good example where infact the the 'y' in greek phonetic pronounciation is 'i' as in "is".

: : : : I hope I have not confused you.
: : : Hi! joanna It is so interesting to hear from you and I understand what you are saying about the three "i"s and also the other combinations of vowels giving the same sound. I know nothing of phonetics I'm afraid but to an english born english speaking person the "i" in "is" is very short and if you prolong the sound it is nothing like the sound we're trying to describe.This sound of "i" in "is" may not appear in other languages and maybe that is why people from other countries often say something like "ees". Of course you dont want any confusion with the "y" sound in "psyche" which is quite different and doesn't exist in greek or many other languages as a single letter. Many books agree with you as you say but its interesting to see many have changed to the sound of "ee" clipped short as in "meet".
: : : The oxford dictionary gives "i" as the phonetic symbol for the the three vowels and three vowel combinations as you rightly say but then gives the example sound "ea" as in "beat" as the nearest english equivalent exactly matching "ee" as above. yours confusingly Brian.

: : Brian,

: : I have found that some phrase books don't give the right phonetic sound for certain letters either because the author has the sound slightly wrong themselves or it's just a mistake. But I will add this. Just as in english words the pitch of a word is raised on a certain syllable -more particularly a vowel. (In the greek an "accent" is used on the vowel to indicate this.) Raising the pitch often extends the sound of that vowel anyway. This happens with the word 'Athina' where the pitch of the 'i' is raised and so it would be more correct to translate it as 'ee' --like you have pointed out. However in another example such as: micros (μικρός) -the greek word for "small" (masculine gender)- where the pitch is raised on the 'o' the sound of the 'i' is very short indeed, thus more akin to 'i' as in "is" than 'ee'.

: : Nevertheless, you will often find that pronunciation of words is not as easy as it may be outlined in any phrase book, that is, the word still won't sound the same from a learner's lips compared to a native speaker's. However the more you say it the better the word will flow. Each sound will blend into the next --as it does with native speakers.

: : Not being a 'linguist' as such I really can't add anymore to this subject. However, if you have anything more to say then I'm all "eers",

: : Joanna.

: Joanna I've started talking about this so much in the last few days so I decided to look at all the books I have,phrase books,guide books and dictionaries and put everything together in a table. I'm sorry I hav'nt had the computor long and cant do greek letters unless I study the manual but I hope this will work!
: For the English equivalent for the greek sound
: of H I Y and ei,oi and ui these are the results:
: is meet
: sit feet
: ink beat
: thin machine
: Maria
: Iv'e added the column headings not to upset you!
: I must have over 20 books so some examples are duplicated, "meet" and "feet" especially. I think
: the "i"s in machine and Maria are particularly good examples. So although the phonetic symbol is "i" you cant choose any "i" in english because we have this very short "i" which other people dont have in their language which must make it very difficult to appreciate the difference. I suddenly realised that the germans have a short "i" as in "bitte" but the french tend to say "ees" for "is" as presumably they dont. Somebody mentioned the americans yesterday as always spending longer on the "i" of "is" with their drawl but it still doesn't sound anything like "ee". Of course I absolutely agree about mikros and I understand about the stress on the "o" which would make the shortest example of your "i" but there is still a world of difference between the vowel sounds of the two columns to us here in London.
: P.S. I Came across a teach yourself Greek book Giving "u" in "put" as the sound for Greek "ou" again totally incorrect maybe for similar reasons. To us it should be "oo" as in "moon".
: Yours Brian.


I think I (have finally) understood what you're getting at. You're right about that 'i' can be pronounced differently depending what country you're in. For instance, an accent by itself can influence pronunciation and therefore the understanding of how to utter the sound of the vowel. Australians like myself probably do pronounce the 'i' differently to the English (like yourself) and to the Americans. That's why for me 'i' as in "is" is okay-a-translation for the greek 'H', 'I' or 'Y' but for you it might not be (hence the 'ee'). And so in that case I would say that phrase books written and published in one country should only be sold in that country otherwise it could very well lead to some confusion [and debate such as that between us (or just poor pronunciation)] if sold in other countries. It's an interesting conclusion. What do you think?

Oh, and by the way, when you mentioned the greek 'ou', to me (with my Aussie accent) the 'u' in "put" sounds correct rather than than the 'oo' in "moon". :)


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