Updated: 15.03.2011 - 00:15
The Pronunciation and Reading of Ancient Greek
Author: Stephen Daitz
Publisher: Jeffrey Norton
Publication date: 1985
Number of pages: 20
Format / Quality: PDF (Excellent) + mp3 (Pretty good)
Size: 534 KB MB + 103 MB
This is a very interesting and useful introduction to the pronunciation of Attic Greek as it was spoken in Athens around the fifth century BC. It comprises a booklet with theoretical explanations and the Greek examples read by Prof. Daitz, and two one hour cassettes.
Far from being boring or pedantic, Prof. Daitz comes across in this recording as a very passionate, knowledgeable and humane person, the kind of teacher I would have liked to have when in secondary school. He knows how to make his explanations more comprehensible for the listener by using interesting and even humorous anecdotes and one simply regrets that the tapes are so short.
The only shortcoming of this crash course in Attic pronunciation is the lack of simple and contrasting examples to learn the pitch accents. The list of 20 words read by Prof. Daitz is definitely not enough and one wishes that he would have illustrated the pronunciation of ancient Greek in a sentence with very simple examples like "the man rides a mule to the market" . Instead he recites a passage from the Apology of Socrates by Plato, which is fine except that the sheer complexity of the sentence structure makes it very difficult for the befuddled beginner to pay attention to the pronunciation.
Can one learn the pitch accents? I think it is possible with time and intelligent effort and the best way to do it is to follow Prof Daitz' own recommendations by listening to pitch variations in one's own native language. As a matter of fact, I have noticed that I use pitch accents instead of stress when talking with my pets and young children and I do it effortlessly. Pitch accents obviously represent a more emotional and childlike stage in the development of language, one which is very close to singing.
For me, learning to sing the pitch accents has made the study of ancient Greek a thousand times more attractive, for who would deny that most of the charm of any language resides in its sound? One can only thank Prof. Daitz for all his labors in bringing to light this otherwise neglected aspect of Greek genius.
Remarks: Daitz is excellent. His system of pronunciation for Ancient Greek is comprehensive, well-defended, and well-tought in this course. In particular, the attention to pitch accent is superb. A must-have for any classicist. I've also posted his course for Classical Latin.