Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pronunciation Bugbears

There are a few tongue-twisters in the Gallican Psalter (and the rest of the Vulgate!) as used in the 1962 Breviary; I find the following very hard to pronounce:

Cœnomyía(m)  (Pss 77:45 & 104:31) – is this, respelling it, "che-no-mi-í-a(m)"?  So ugly!   Then again, this is a word (from the Greek, isn't it? – having just looked it up in my Septuaginta, I see it spelt there κυνóμυια(ν), rather than beginning κοι- as I had assumed from the digraph œ; a quick google reveals in other recensions of the Vulgate the word is transliterated cynomia, rarely cynomyia) for (dog)flies; which Luther held to be the creation of the devil...

Æthiópia/Æthíopes/Æthíopum  (Pss 67:32; 71:9; 73:14; 86:4 – the LXX has Α’ιϑιοπ´ια / Α’ιϑ´ιοπες / Α’ιϑ´ιοψιν /Α’ιϑι´οπων) – should I follow the general rule that "t" before "i" and then another vowel should be "ts", or does the "h" keep the "t" hard: in other words, is it "e-ti-op-" or "e-tsi-op-"?  Sometimes I cheat and pronounce the "th" here and elsewhere as in English...

Eleemósyna &c., "almsgiving" (Gk. ’ελεημοσ´υνη – which isn't in the Psalms, but in Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, Daniel iv. 24, S. Matthew, S. Luke, and Acts) – how to pronounce this smoothly?  (I'm aware that the doubled "e" must be pronounced as two syllables, just as Aaron is "A-a-ron".)  If only it had been rendered in Latin as *eleimosyna, like eléïson from ’ελ´εησον, which would make it easier to say!  I suppose one must consciously try to remember to put a subsidiary accent two syllables before the main one, that is, on -le-, and pronounce it as eléemósyna.

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