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Kyrie Eleison

Kirie Eleison

Teddy Kaufman wrote (March 25, 2006):
A comprehensive "evolution" of Kirie Eleison is well described in the following website: http://www.newadvent.org/

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 25, 2006):
Kirie Eleison (Kyrie)

[To Teddy Kaufman] As part of the phenomenon known as "iotacism" about seven vowels and diphthongs in Modern Greek have come to be pronounced as /i/ (English <ee>). However in Ancient Greek upsilon is not the same as iota and not the same as Latin /u/. Thus we, well Latin transliterated with a /y/ and the orthography demands kyrie (vocative: "Oh, Lord").

Santu de Silva wrote (March 25, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Could you clarify this a little more? (I think there might be a typo in the last sentence of your message.)

I'm particularly interested in the name Pythagoras, where I believe the "y" is a translation --or represents, anyway-- the greek upsilon. I wonder what its pronunciation might have been? The present-day American English pronunciation pains me greatly. The only thing worse is the pronunciation of "Pythagorean" . . . which has to be excused, since it is a synthetic composite, anyway.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 25, 2006):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< Could you clarify this a little more? (I think there might be a typo in the last sentence of your message.)
I'm particularly interested in the name Pythagoras, where I believe the "y" is a translation --or represents, anyway-- the greek upsilon. >

No typo as far as I see. In Pythagoras the /y/ is a transliteration from the Greek where the Greek has an upsilon. In Classical Attic Greek upsilon was pronounced like a French /u/ or a German umlauted /u/ = /ü/. For the sound <u> Attic Greek used /ou/.

This Greek upsilon sound to the Romans was a sound like neither their own /u/ nor their own /i/ and thus they used the letter /y/ which is still called "i grecque" in French (I am not sure how the French write the full title of this letter).

< I wonder what its pronunciation might have been? The present-day American English pronunciation pains me greatly. The only thing worse is the pronunciation of "Pythagorean" . . . which has to be excused, since it is a synthetic composite, anyway. >
How the English or the Americans pronounce words inherited from Latin or from Greek (either directly or via Latin) is simply a matter to be accepted, described and not prescribed.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 25, 2006):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< I'm particularly interested in the name Pythagoras, where I believe the "y" is a translation --or represents, anyway-- the greek upsilon. I wonder what its pronunciation might have been? The present-day American English pronunciation pains me greatly. The only thing worse is the pronunciation of "Pythagorean" . . . which has to be excused, since it is a synthetic composite, anyway. >
It's worth remembering that Latin and Greek have historical and regional pronunciations that have nothing to do with authentic pronunciation. This is important in recreating pronunication systems for vocal and choral music. Thus, in 16th century England,"excelsis" sounded like "excel" not the "eggshells" of modern Italianate. Academic Latin was developed in the 19th century at the same time as Modern Greek was devised.

Bach's choirs did not use Italian pronunication. For example "Kyrie" sounded like "Walküre" and "coeli" had a "ü" sound. Most German choirs maintain the regional pronunciation. Many Catholic choirs tried to change when Pius X tried to impose Italiante pronunication on the whole Catholic church in 1903. The results are often a hybrid. One modern choir sings "coeli" with the Italian "ch" sounds on "c", but "ü" on "oe"!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 25, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< It's worth remembering that Latin and Greek have historical and regional pronunciations that have nothing to do with authentic pronunciation. This is important in recreating pronunication systems for vocal and choral music. Thus, in 16th century England,"excelsis" sounded like "excel" not the "eggshells" of modern Italianate. Academic Latin was developed in the 19th century at the same time as Modern Greek was devised. >
Very important point. "Problem" is that all these composers are sung by choirs and soli from many different lands who at least traditionally used their own pronunciations of Latin (including the occasional Greek).

I am not sure why "eggshells" instead of /ek-chells/. I am also not sure that you mean by Modern Greek. To discuss the pronunciation of Greek both Modern and Classical in Greece would be offtopic, I fear as would the entire Greek "Language Question" which has led to loss of life in riots in Greece esp. in connection with Pallas's superb dhimotiki translation of the Gospels.

< Bach's choirs did not use Italian pronunication. For example "Kyrie" sounded like "Walküre" and "coeli" had a "ü" sound. Most German choirs maintain the regional pronunciation. Many Catholic choirs tried to change when Pius X tried to impose Italiante pronunication on the whole Catholic church in 1903. The results are often a hybrid. One modern choir sings "coeli" with the Italian "ch" sounds on "c", but "ü" on "oe"! >
I am not questioning you but why /chüli/ and not /chöli/? I would expect German Latin to have / tsöli / vel sim.

Raymond Joly wrote (March 25, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] I am sure Douglas Cowling meant that COELI had an "ö" sound, not "ü". The sound in GOETHE, not the one in BLÜTE.

Raymond Joly wrote (March 25, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbetman] Right you are.

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 25, 2006):
[To Raymond Joly] Merci

Alain Bruguieres wrote (March 26, 2006):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< Could you clarify this a little more? (I think there might be a typo in the last sentence of your message.)
I'm particularly interested in the name Pythagoras, where I believe the "y" is a translation --or represents, anyway-- the greek upsilon. I wonder what its pronunciation might have been? The present-day American English pronunciation pains me greatly. The only thing worse is the pronunciation of "Pythagorean" . . . which has to be excused, since it is a synthetic composite, anyway. >

Ancient Greek was a language of many dialects.

According to Lejeune - Phonétique Historique du Mycénien et du Grec Ancien - the sound represented by the letter upsilon originates from an indo-european /u/
(like in French 'Louvre' - you know, Da Vinci Code and all that...).
In all dialects upsilon retained this value, except in Ionian and Attic where, from the beginning of the classic period, it took the value /ü/ (like in French 'tutu'). This change initiated in Ionia. Those two dialects (Attic and Ionian) merged into the koine during the hellenisctic period and all other dialects fell out of use.This homogeneization process started around -300 and ended around +300.Around the XI th century of our era /ü/ became /i/. As Yoel said, this is part of a crazy phenomenon called iotacism : about half of the vowels of Ancient Greek merged into /i/ in Modern Greek.

So how about Pythagoras? In the classic period, in Athens, it must have been (with th=t+aspiration). These days, it would sound more like pizagoras pronouced by a spaniard, I think. Pythagoras was a Ionian of the late 6th century BC and so is likely to have pronounced his own name as /püthagoras/.

At least that's what I gather from my Lejeune!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (March 26, 2006):
If this phrase had not entered Latin AFTER the Latin /c/ became palatalized to /ch/ or /ts/ or /s/ or whatever in various and sundry places, it would have been transliterated into Latin as Cyrie. Thus we would have it pronounced as /chirie/ or even in English as "sirie" which would sound the same as Syria in generally imprecise English pronunciation of unstressed final vowel. Syria eleezon indeed.

Richard Mix wrote (March 27, 2006):
Ypsilon

< Bach's choirs did not use Italian pronunication. For example "Kyrie" sounded like "Walküre".... >
Are you sure about this example? One of our most HIP literate reviewers in the SF Bay Area took a chorus to task for this last year, but I w. Copeman, in Singing in Latin, argues that this pronunciation is first documented around 1850 and therefore ought not to be applyed earlier: hence "Tochter aus Eliesium" in the 9th Symphony. I don’t recal if he drew inferences about German ecclesiastical Greek or not.

Continue of this discussion, see: Pronunciation [General Topics]

 

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Last update: ýMarch 28, 2006 ý19:05:14