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14 July, 2006


I’ve been reading through my new World History text — I’m using Bulliett. Mostly, I like it. The organization is not bad. It doesn’t have too many stupid questions. Not so many primary sources, but that’s ok. And it’s better than most texts when it comes to the Voice of Authority, i.e., there are qualifying comments like, “many historians think,” or , “Historian X has argued …”. And in general, I like that there are pronunciation hints. Except. The pronunciations are not mine in some cases. And I don’t think it’s that my pronunciations are wrong. It’s that for some reason, the pronunciations have been simplified. Dipthongs are pretty much non-existent. Everything has been … USAmericanized? Worse, the majority of vowel sounds seem to be translated to “uh”. I know that not everyone pronounces the K in Knossos (and this book spells it Cnossos and says NOH-sus). I’ll explain that my way is perfectly acceptable (it is, isn’t it??). But Phaistos — I would pronounce it Fah-EE-stos, or something like, that reflects that both the a and the i are spoken. THe book? FIE-stus.

I wouldn’t worry about it, except that maybe I’ve been wrong all these years? But I think I’m not. I’m actually not bad with the languages — and especially with pronunciations (although I have trouble with Pfirsich and Kirsch and occasionally French words that end in -in, until I’ve heard them pronounced properly). But really … I think I’m more right than wrong here. How to deal with book disagreement in class?

Quiz Fun

Er … do you think so?


Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 July, 2006 4:53 pm

    Hmmm. Does the book use the latinized spellings (Cyrus, Corinth, Achilles, etc.) elsewhere as well? If so, you’ve at least got a chance to have a discussion with your class about how language can shape a view of the world.Alternatively, just come straight out and say that you disagree with some of the text book pronunciations. Assuming that this is a freshman class, at least it’ll help them get over their “the textbook is always right” complex. Perhaps you might want to include this in a session where you ask them to reflect on why the textbook contains what it does?

  2. 14 July, 2006 4:59 pm

    That’s actually one of the first classes!

  3. 14 July, 2006 11:23 pm

    I always pronounce the K in knossos. I would never spell it with a C for one thing. that is just too latinate. But I would say the k sound no matter. on the other hand, I have never ever heard anyone say fah ee stos. Everyone I know and have heard speak says something more like feh-stos.There is really never agreement on such things. Oh, I just had another thought. There is also potentially a difference between the way classicist are/were inclined to pronounce place names and the way modern greeks might say it. Modern greek dipthongs…they look like dipthongs, but more often than not, the sound comes out somewhere between “ih” and “eh”

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