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Posted: 2/1/15
Dr. Schwandt is currently on a sabbatical from offering Greek courses and reading groups. We are currently working on a way to offer the educational materials without the live component.


Erasmian variastion of Biblical Greek Pronunciation

The Erasmian or Academic pronunciation has a fascinating history and variety of manifestations. Most of the common variations of the Erasmian pronunciation have been presented in grammars. The one principle they all have in common is "one sound for one symbol." The variations that accomplish this the best are the furthest removed from any one historic Greek pronunciation. The variations that include letters that sound the same, do this to be more accurately reflect a classical pronunciation rather than the historic sound of Biblical Greek. However, none of the variations represent a pure pronunciation of Greek from any time or place in history.

1. Chart of Major Conventions of the Erasmian Pronunciation

2. Links to examples of Erasmian pronunciation variations

3. General Phonetic Sites

1. Chart of Major Conventions of the Erasmian Pronunciation

Greek Letters Machen, Hewett, Paine Smyth; Goodwin Allen (Vox Graeca pp177-179) Mounce
a: father a: aha (if short)
a: father (if long)
u: cup (if short)
a: father (if long)
a: father (if short)
a: late (if long)
b: boy same same same
g: got1 same same same
d same same same
e: get same (quicker than eta) same e: get
dz z : daze zd: wisdom z : daze
a: late ε: air (like e: get
but extended)3
same a: late
th: thin same t: top (emphatically pronounced) or same th: thin
i : pit (if short)
i : ski (if long)
i as in meteor (if short) or police (if long) i : pit (if short)
i : ski (if long)
k: kite same k: make k: kite
l same same same
m same same same
n same same same
x: axe same same same
o :obey (quicker than omega) same o: pot (British pronunciation) o: not (North American)
p: peach same p: tap2 p: peach
r: rod same rolled r r: rod
s same same same
t: talk same t: get t: talk
French u or German ü same French u brief or extended (for short & long situations) German ü,
or u: universe, or oo: book
ph: phone same p: pot (emphatically pronounced) or same ph : phone
German ch: ich; machen same c: cat (emphatically pronounced) or same ch: loch
ps same same same
o : note same aw: saw (extended omicron) o : note
ai : aisle same same same
a : fate same same same
oi : oil same same same
ui: suite same same same
ou : out same same same
eu : feud e (met) + oo (moon) eu : feud same
eu : feud ēh'-oo eu : feud same
ou : soup same same same

1 When gamma precedes kappa, chi, or another gamma it has a nasal sound like ng.
2 When the last letter of a word is given in contrast to the first, it shows a lesser aspiration.
3 Bullions' Greek Grammar is the same except eta sounds like fate, eu: & hu feud. In 1860, he writes that the Erasmian pronunciation is the historic pronunciation of the ancients.

2. Links to examples of Erasmian pronunciation variations

Practical Erasmian Pronunciation Survey - An informal survey of the variations with the Erasmian tradition

Erasmian Audio Files (Machen) - Great page with recorded sounds and animations showing how to write out each letter.

Berkeley Pronunciation Guide (Allen) - This is a great page with recorded sounds (male and female voices) of each letter and diphthong. They follow Allen except on (HU).

NT Greek Pronunciation (Mounce) - Click the letters or other examples to hear how the Mounce system sounds. There are examples of complete phrases here.

Ancient Greek Pronunciation (Allen) - Pronunciation chart with examples following the Allen convention

Erasmian Chart (Machen) - This is a good reference page for more pronunciation examples and instructions on writing the letters.

Jefferson's Opinion - Thomas Jefferson argues for the Erasmian pronunciation because he believes it is more historicaly accurate (1819).

Potter's Erasmian Explanation and Examples - Don Potter has a explanation of the Erasmian system. He includes the vowel triangle with audio aids.

New Testament Reading (Mounce) - Marilyn Phemister reads the New Testment using the Mounce style of the Erasmian pronunciation. The New Testament is Wescott-Hort Greek New Testament 1881.

Spiphanies - This is a fantastic audio gateway site for ancient Greek. There are many links to audio recordings for almost every classical Greek curriculum.

3. General Phonetic Sites

International Phonetic Association - This site has great charts which map how sounds are produced.

Free Phonetic Tutorial - This site will let you listen to sounds by selecting phonetic symbols

IPA Tutorial - This site has the International Phonetic Alphabet and has the sound spoken by both a male and female voice.

UCL Department of Phonetics & Linguistics - This site has very good web tutorials.

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