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Similar to our question about the pronunciation of Latin, I believe it would be very useful for users to have a single question to reference for resources for pronouncing Greek. Greek, as with Latin, of course had several developmental stages for its pronounciation, as well as (to the best of my knowledge) a better understanding of the various dialects. I am already aware of two excellent resources to the pronounciation of Greek, which I have added as separate answers below, to follow the guidelines of these kinds of threads.

Which sources do you know of for studying and learning Ancient Greek pronunciation? Books, courses, videos and any other instructional material from reputable sources should be considered valid answers. As with the similar Latin question, I would recommend we follow the same prescript as suggested by Joonas Ilmavirta (I have replaced ‘courses’ in the below with ‘resources’, as there are numerous excellent resources on this that are not courses):

Please give only one [resource] per answer. If you have many [resources] to suggest, give multiple answers—but read the other answers to avoid duplicating answers. This way people can vote on individual [resources], causing the best ones to rise up and the worst ones to sink down, so that we can easily find the most useful resources. If there are many [resources] listed in an answer, it’s hard to link the answer score to the quality of each listed course.
― Joonas Ilmavirta

I will also provide the instructions he provided on resource posts:

Note about resource questions:
Broad resource questions like this are generally not allowed on this site. The community chooses a select few to avoid an overflow of questions of this kind. If you have an opinion on what resource questions should be asked next, post a suggestion in this meta post or vote on the existing ones. The ones to be asked will be chosen from that list according to their number of votes. If you have ideas about listing resources on this site in general, you can contribute to this meta discussion.

In particular, if you would like to ask a similar resource request question, do not just ask it, but post a suggestion in the mentioned meta post instead.

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9 Answers 9

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An obvious first is of course W. Sidney Allen’s Vox Graeca: The Pronunciation of Classical Greek, third edition, Cambridge UP 1987, latest reprint 1994, currently print-on-demand (but with very quick service; mine arrived in less than a fortnight). I would assume that much has happened in the study of Ancient Greek since VG’s latest edition now three-and-a-half decades ago, but it is still highly valuable as a point of origin.

Note that there are some issues (I cannot point to any sources for this at the moment) of contention with Allen’s work with regards to his description of the vowel qualities in Latin being coloured by him having English as his mother tongue; as known, English vowel qualities differ dependent on vowel quantity. Given this, I would assume one should consult other sources when using his Vox Graeca for learning more about the specifics of quantity–quality relations. Despite this, though, it is a great starting point.

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  • From what I recall, Vox Graeca is most informative about classical Attic pronunciation of the 5th and 4th century B.C., which is accepted as the standard for "Classical Greek"; however, the book does include much information about later sound changes and so is still somewhat useful for other periods. It would not be as authoritative a source of pronunciation for someone specifically interested in Biblical Greek pronunciation and uninterested in earlier Greek. Feb 1, 2022 at 15:27
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Luke Ranieri’s ‘Ranieri's Greek Pronunciation Chronology’ provides a schematic overview of how the phonemes of Greek developed from pre-500 BCE to modern Greek. Luke Ranieri is well known for his YouTube channel focused on Latin and Ancient Greek, and speaks both languages as close to fluently as one should assume possible.

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Randall Buth is considered a prominent authority on the pronunciation of Koine Greek, specifically with reference to the pronunciation of the Greek New Testament in Palestine. I am not sure what resource to link to, since I personally do not use this pronunciation, but I think this is the relevant page on his cite, which also includes material on other biblical languages:

https://www.biblicallanguagecenter.com/koine-greek-pronunciation/

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Luke Ranieri and Raphael Turrigiano actually advocate what they call the Lucian pronunciation for all ancient Greek. They associate their system with the imperial Roman pronunciation that might have been used by Lucian of Samosata in the second century AD. They promote it as an academically sound compromise pronunciation between Modern Greek and reconstructed Attic Greek that would allow even Homeric poetry to be appreciated with proper scansion, but would not sound so far from Modern Greek as to be offensive to many of its speakers. They also promote it as a way of unifying the community that wants to revive ancient Greek as a spoken language.

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    I'm sure the fact that Lucian also works as a derivative of Luke's own name doesn't hurt when it comes to his advocacy for it :p
    – Tristan
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:20
  • I also had my suspicions Feb 1, 2022 at 21:55
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    Shouldn't a pronunciation inspired by Lucian be called the "Lucianian pronunciation," miror... Feb 2, 2022 at 22:13
  • @SebastianKoppehel All the reason to distrust it!
    – cmw
    Nov 14, 2022 at 4:24
  • This idea of trying to choose a version which is "not offensive" to your average Greek person is ludicrous. Personally I'm trying to get the 5th century BC Attica pronunciation, replete with aspirated (not fricative) φ, θ and χ, and as close a stab as possible at the accentuation. Linguistics, like all areas of human knowledge, just gets better and better, and there's no reason we should stick with Allen's miserable advice to forget about accentuation (in Vox Graeca): it was clearly part of the spirit of the language, and to disregard it is surely a desecration. Dec 16, 2022 at 19:47
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I love the original idea and the post, but suggest to add the following information to help learners evaluate resources.

What pronunciation system is best for a new learner depends on an evaluation of (1) what is most pragmatic for the learner's purposes and (2) what is considered most reputable. In other words, you want a pronunciation system that will best help you use the language in the way you want to use it and in a way that will not cause people to laugh at you if they happen to hear you pronounce something.

  1. What is pragmatic for a learner to use depends on:

A. The person's pronunciation ability and what languages they already speak

B. What the learner expects to use Greek for: for example, (1) private study and pronouncing the occasional word or phrase, (2) using classical Greek to converse in it with other speakers, or (3) using it to discuss classical Greek in modern Greece.

  1. Authenticity depends on what authority you respect the most, what audience you anticipate using Greek with, and what period(s) of Greek interest you.

Taking all these things into account, there are are four clusters of pronunciation systems typically used by English speakers:

  1. A variation of Erasmian: (i.e., some system descended from what Erasmus first rediscovered or devised about reconstructed classical Greek pronunciation) There are many variations of this system, and the term is often misapplied to other reconstructed systems that have nothing directly to do with the system Erasmus devised. Some form of this system has been the most wide-spread system in the English speaking world over the last few centuries, but is no longer considered a good source for those interested specifically in "sounding like an ancient Greek." It is generally used in a form that is practical for English speakers to pronounce and to help differentiate Greek spellings and grammar and so is common for those primarily interested in using Greek for private study and analysis. It is what you tend to find in slightly older books teaching classical Greek and giving short explanations of pronunciation. I do not think this system is widespread among those trying to converse in classical Greek, but is common among reputable English speaking scholars and suitable for a Christian preacher wanting to make an occasional reference to the original Greek word behind an English translation.

  2. Reconstructed Classical Attic Greek: This is considered the standard for those wanting to reconstruct the actual sounds of classical Greek associated with the flowering of culture originating in 5th century Athens. This tends to include sounds difficult for English speakers to produce, but has the advantage of reproducing the prosody and rhythm used in all classical Greek poetry and drama. I think some people use this system to converse in, but it tends to require a high level of commitment by those passionate about "authenticity" and the "original sounds" of classical Greek.

  3. Modern Greek: This is the system that continues an unbroken system of use in Greece for use with classical and Koine Greek and so is clearly "authentic" from that standpoint. There have actually always been many dialects of Greek, but that is generally not relevant to beginners. The sounds of modern Greek tend to be much easier for English speakers to reproduce than "Attic" Greek, but not as easy as "Erasmian." It has living speakers to use as models. It can be used for conversational purposes with some minor adjustments due to homonyms, but I think is less popular among English speakers trying to converse in classical Greek. It cannot reproduce the prosody and rhythm of classical poetry and drama, but is increasingly accepted as a valid choice among academically oriented English speakers, since all reconstructions include a certain degree of speculation. This system is also convenient for those wanting to maintain a connection to modern Greek culture and academia and was until quite recently the only system acceptable to most Greeks in academic circles.

  4. Reconstructed Koine Greek: These systems stand as a compromise between reconstructed 5th century Attic Greek and Modern Greek. They are especially relevant for those primarily interested in studying the Koine Greek of the Bible. Depending on the variation, these systems can be used with the prosody of 5th century Attic Greek to read poetry and drama with authentic rhythms or with a prosody and pronunciation more like Modern Greek to take advantage of the model of living speakers and the greater ease of pronunciation.

Whatever system you chose can be made to work for anything, but some are better adapted for some uses than others and are more acceptable in certain circles.

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Pitch Accents: For how the Ancient Greek Pitch accent sounded, the most comprehensive authority might be:

Devine, A.M.; Stephens, Laurence D. (1994). The Prosody of Greek Speech. Oxford University Press

Although there were scattered and mostly not very convincing attempts to reproduce the pitch accent before this publication, I think the majority view was to follow Sidney Allen's advice in Vox Graeca not to attempt it and simply to give any accent mark a stress accent as in modern Greek practice when reading polytonic texts. The Prosody of Greek Speech is not a "how-to" book, but gives enough convincing evidence for a person to render a plausible interpretation of what the pitch accent sounded like.

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  • Thanks for bringing this one up. I see versions of it start from about £37 (new or secondhand) ... but then again it is (currently) Christmas: maybe I should treat myself. Do you happen to know if they concentrate primarily on a particular time and location (e.g. 5th century BC Attica)? Dec 16, 2022 at 19:54
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Benjamin Kantor has the site KoineGreek.com.

The founder of KoineGreek.com, Benjamin Kantor, is currently working with Biblical Language Center (co-authoring with Scott McQuinn) to produce a new Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Koine Greek curriculum loaded with audio/visual material based on ancient Greco-Roman conversation manuals. You can actually learn how to use and speak Greek just like you would with a modern language.

The focus of the site is teaching Koine Greek as if it were a living language using a pronunciation similar to what is advocated by Randall Buth. The site has a wealth of interactive material.

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Ioannis Stratakis is, I believe, a native speaker of Modern Greek that has numerous high-quality recitations on YouTube in a reconstructed pronunciation. I don't know if he actually describes his specific pronunciation system anywhere, but his style can certainly be used as a model or just for the purpose of hearing one convincing interpretation of how the original Greek may have sounded for some speakers.

https://www.youtube.com/c/Podium-arts/featured

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Using Modern Greek pronunciation should be signaled as a viable alternative, but don't know what source to link to.

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