6

Throughout the development of Ancient Greek, was σ ever pronounced as [z], perhaps when before a voiced consonant, as in ἄσβεστος?

1 Answer 1

12

Yes, there is evidence of this in the form of spelling confusion between Σ and Ζ before voiced consonants, which in certain contexts made its mark on Latin forms (take a look at the 98 examples of word-initial "zm" in the PHI Latin texts corpus, which appear in words taken from Greek that also have spellings with Σ, such as Zmyrna = Ζμύρνα = Σμύρνα).

Actually, confusion between these letters seems to have occurred even in other contexts, where it might not have always indicated identical pronunciation but just similarity. I can't give a great summary of this, but per Sturtevant 1920:190

Beginning with the year 340 B.C., Attic inscriptions show confusion between σ and ζ

(The pronunciation of Greek and Latin: the sounds and accents)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.