Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 17 14:08:08 UTC 2009

At 12:14 PM +0200 8/17/09, Julia Achenbach wrote:
>  > This word is not in the OED.
>>  The pronunciation is given as /??da??ks??s/ in a few sources (like Wells,
>>  and Wiktionary).  Wikipedia says it is from Ancient Greek ????????????.
>>  Does anyone know the original pronunciation of that?
>--- as far as I know ancient Greek words are pronounced the same way they
>are spelled

Not sure what this means.  Is pronouncing "deixis" with /ai/
pronouncing it the way it's spelled?  What about <ei> in English is
more often pronounced /i:/ than with the /ai/ diphthong.  Of course
if the intended sense is "ancient Greek words are pronounced the same
way a German word would be if it were spelled that way", I have no
argument with the claim, as far as "deixis" goes.  But even then I'm
not sure *all* Greek words are pronounced that way.  I've always
heard "sigma" pronounced with an initial /s/, for example, not /z/.

>, because no one knows for sure how the Greeks pronounced them.
>(they refused to record them on tape :))

Not entirely true.  We don't know for sure, perhaps, but this is a
point on which much ink has been spilled, probably predating E. H.
Sturtevant's classic tome on the pronunciation of words in ancient
Greek and Latin.  Evidence from transliterations, rhyme, etc., and
some contemporary (classical) descriptions is typically used to make
the case.

>At least in German. I am not too
>sure whether or not the same goes for English.

It does for "deixis", "eidolon", and the other few <ei> words I can
think of that have been imported into English.


The American Dialect Society -

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