What are the pros and cons of the Erasmian pronunciation?

For this answer, bear in mind that there are three current pronunciations of Ancient Greek:

I will differentiate in the following between Erasmian (as taught) and Reconstruction. Erasmian as taught tends to make the following concessions. (Happy to be corrected.)

  • Usually stress rather than pitch accent
  • Often fricatives rather than aspirated stops
  • Nativisation of diphthongs
  • Some distortions in the German version
  • Even more distortions in the French version

Pros of Erasmian:

  • It’s a stable system with respect to the various periods of Greek. Greek pronunciation varied by era: Homeric was different to Classical Attic, the dialects  likely differed, and there was significant change between Classical and Koine Greek. With Erasmian (or Modern Greek), you only need to learn one pronunciation. So long as you don’t care about historical accuracy.
  • It’s somewhat close to the scholarly reconstruction of Greek; so a lot of the phonology and morphology of Ancient Greek makes much more sense. With Modern pronunciation, augments and contraction are just magical mappings between letters, that you learn by rote. In fact, they make as little sense as English spelling, for pretty much the same reason.

Cons of Erasmian:

  • It’s not quite fully there with the scholarly reconstruction of Greek; so some of the phonology and morphology of Ancient Greek still doesn’t make sense. Particularly with diphthongs, and aspiration, if your local Erasmian doesn’t do them accurately.
  • Extreme variability from country to country, because of the concessions each country’s teaching system makes to the local language.
  • Speak in Erasmian to a Greek, and they’ll look at you like a space alien. Or even worse, a German. Now, if you’re speaking Ancient Greek to a Greek, you deserve to be looked at like a space alien. But they will genuinely have no idea what you are saying, or what language you are saying it in. Even diehard turncoats like me cannot help themselves from reading Ancient Greek out with modern pronunciation, if they speak Modern Greek: we need all the help we can get.
  • It’s quite far from Koine. Koine was still in flux, and some critical changes were underway when the bit of Koine most people care about (New Testament) was spoken. But overall, Koine was much closer to Modern Greek than Homeric.

In conclusion, the  reconstructed Greek I’ve liked the best. Most recordings of Ancient Greek in scholarly reconstruction are of Greek poetry. Because they stylise (some might say, overdo) the pitch accent and the quantity, they end up sounding like yodelling Martians. My favourite reconstructor does this too when he reads  poetry; but mercifully, he also reads prose. And when he reads prose, he is the only person I’ve heard who sounds like he’s speaking a human language.

It helps that he’s Greek. His phonology is not Modern Greek, mind you; but I think it helps a lot that, at least in this recording, his intonation is. I give you Ioannis Stratakis:

Herodotus, Histories 1.1-4 (reconstructed ancient Greek)

The Wire (TV series): S2 E12: What does Thollaria mean when Spiros asks the Greek if he’s going to leave “15 million Thollaria” on the docks?

It’s just “dollars”, δολλάρια. You couldn’t find it because the th as in there sound is normally transliterated as d, to differentiate it from the th as in thin sound.

Which “dead” languages are now being revitalized?

The Wikipedia List of revived languages is uncharacteristically brief and incomplete, and it includes moribund as well as dead languages.

A substantial number of Australian Aboriginal languages are involved in revival efforts.

Also, PRUSSIAN RECONSTRUCTIONS : Old Prussian. Which I found out about because their request for a Wikipedia was denied. The Wikipedia language committee are notorious spoilsports… 

What is the equivalent of Do Re Mi for other languages/cultures?

In the 1832 revision of  Byzantine music, Chrysanthus of Prusa came up with a Greek equivalent of solfège, using the same derivation from acrostics of a hymn. So: Pa Vou Ga Di Ke Zo Ni.

To my surprise, there’s no decent online source on this (https://thmodocumentation.files…. p. 6 has the info in Greek).

EDIT: I say acrostic, but it was a rigged acrostic for the occasion. Chrysanthus’ actual intent was to put the first seven letters of the Greek alphabet into a set of CV syllables:

πΑ Βου Γα Δε κΕ Ζω νΗ

What is the name for the ‘condition’ that sometimes occurs when people wake from a coma and can speak a foreign language without any prior study?

There is indeed Foreign accent syndrome . And the simplest explanation is the easiest: people wake up with a kind of speech disorder, which listeners match to whatever accents they are familiar with. It does not mean they are speaking a different languages, or that they have been exposed to another accent natively. Pareidolia, the Wikipedia page politely calls it.

As the Wikipedia article adds,

Despite an unconfirmed news report in 2010 that a Croatian speaker has gained the ability to speak fluent German after emergence from a coma,[5] there has been no verified case where a patient’s foreign language skills have improved after a brain injury.

So “speaking a foreign language” outright doesn’t happen. And if someone was going to wake up from a coma speaking German, Croatia is more plausible than I dunno, Madagascar. Like  John Nurse’s answer says, you don’t know a new language out of thin air.

What is the best Greek New Testament?

  • The Textus Receptus  is the traditional Orthodox Greek bible, as passed down from Byzantine copyist through Byzantine copyist (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/By… ),  into one particular manuscript that Erasmus got hold of, and missing one page that Erasmus translated from the Vulgate. It is distinguished for being the first widely disseminated Greek text in the age of printing. It is the authoritative text of the Orthodox church, but noone involved was making an attempt to reconstruct the original text.
  • The other two major families of New Testament manuscripts are the  Alexandrian text-type  and the Western text-type.
  • Textual critics, who are trying to reconstruct the original text, tend to prefer the Alexandrian type, at least for the Gospels. But this is reconstruction, and reconstruction based on sometimes subjective criteria (which nonetheless make sense when you think about them.)

What does the Romanian language sound like to a foreigner?

My prejudice going in, as someone exposed through Greek linguistics to written Aromanian language  (which I know is not quite the same thing):

  • Too many diphthongs
  • Central vowels? How odd
  • It’s Romance, it’s just got some odd sound changes

My prejudice on hearing this:

  • Too many diphthongs.
  • I can’t hear the Romance at all. I’m sure it’s there, but I can’t pick it up. Apart from the final Bună seara (bona sera!)
  • The intonation and phonology does sound Slavicish.
  • A lot more nasal than I expected (hence the Portuguese that other respondents are picking up on.)
  • They weren’t joking with that –lui suffix.
  • Yeah, central vowels. Gives it that Russian tinge.
  • Too many diphthongs.

Is the Chinese symbol for threat is the same as for opportunity?

The mantra has merited its own debunking on Wikipedia: Chinese word for “crisis”   . See there for links to debunkings on the non-Quora internet. The correct answer in the in-Quora internet is Feifei Wang’s answer to Is the Chinese symbol for threat is the same as for opportunity?  and Minghao Dai’s answer to Is the Chinese symbol for threat is the same as for opportunity? .

How did Greece manage to hold on to all of their islands throughout all of the wars?

Good answers from my fellow respondents. So:

  • For a long time, there was no Greece, so there was noone to do the holding on.
  • For a long time after that, Greece didn’t have most of the islands: it had to get hold of them:
    • The Cyclades and Euboea, and the Saronic Gulf islands, were part of the Greek state since 1832
    • The Ionian islands were ceded to Greece in 1864
    • Most of the islands of the Aegean were ceded in 1913
    • The Dodecanese were ceded in 1946

Greece did not get all the islands either: the strategic islands of Imbros  and Tenedos are now officially named Gökçeada and Bozcaada, because they remained part of Turkey. Their Greek population of the islands was not subject to the 1923 Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, but it has substantially diminished since. In fact, a fair proportion of them are my parents’ neighbours in Melbourne.