Question about diphthongs ευ and αυ

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Achrelos
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Question about diphthongs ευ and αυ

Postby Achrelos » 2018-05-27, 0:12

So I understand that in modern Greek they are pronounced as ev/ef and av/af, which is quite a sound shift from eu and au that is reconstructed for the ancient variants of the pronounciation. I’m wondering if anyone has looked into why or when this occurred, or if we even know. It’s a preference thing, but of all the sound shifts from the ancient (which I studied a long, long time ago) this one gets to me in a lot of words since I liked the way they sounded and because of that I’m extremely curious about it, but have had no luck finding anything.

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Native: [flag=]en[/flag] Decent: [flag=]la[/flag] Absolute Beginner: [flag=]it[/flag] [flag=]eo[/flag]

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Dormouse559
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Re: Question about diphthongs ευ and αυ

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-05-27, 1:23

w > v is actually not uncommon. It's an example of fortition, where a sound becomes less sonorous. Another prominent example of the sound change is in Latin and the Romance languages. Latin [w] becomes [v] and even [β] and [b] in various Romance languages. Take Latin vitamwiːtam/; it turned into Italian vitavita/ and Spanish vidabiða/.
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Achrelos
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Re: Question about diphthongs ευ and αυ

Postby Achrelos » 2018-05-27, 3:49

I know that w>v isn’t uncommon, at least in the Romance branch of languages, but I was under the impression that in these diphthongs the old upsilon was pronounced something like the French u, not like a w, as in the word ελεύθερα. It strikes me odd that unlike the Latin>Romance examples, upsilon retains its vowel status when appearing alone or in between other vowels and yet takes a consonant status in diphthongs that typically directly precede consonants and a consonantal w makes no sense (at least in my prior experience). This is true even for prefixes of Greek origin, such as Spanish automóvil vs Greek αυτοκίνητο (aftokínito).
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Dormouse559
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Re: Question about diphthongs ευ and αυ

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-05-27, 4:48

Achrelos wrote:I know that w>v isn’t uncommon, at least in the Romance branch of languages, but I was under the impression that in these diphthongs the old upsilon was pronounced something like the French u, not like a w, as in the word ελεύθερα.

As far as I can tell, that wasn't true as the non-syllabic element of a diphthong. The Wikis transcribe it as /w/ or the equivalent /u̯/.

Achrelos wrote:It strikes me odd that unlike the Latin>Romance examples, upsilon retains its vowel status when appearing alone or in between other vowels and yet takes a consonant status in diphthongs that typically directly precede consonants and a consonantal w makes no sense (at least in my prior experience).

Four things:

1) If by "appearing alone", you mean "syllabic", that's not so odd. Syllabic vowels don't undergo fortition very easily.

2) It looks like w>v also occurred between vowels.

3) Before a consonant is a very reasonable place for fortition. Consonants are less sonorous than semivowels, so a semivowel followed by a consonant could assimilate by losing sonority.

4) /w/ can certainly be consonantal; it might pattern with either consonants or vowels or both depending on the language. Note how semivowels are also called semiconsonants.

Achrelos wrote:This is true even for prefixes of Greek origin, such as Spanish automóvil vs Greek αυτοκίνητο (aftokínito).

Most Romance borrowings are based on Ancient Greek, so pre-fortition.
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