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Church Key Kid
10-21-2002, 10:11 AM
What is the correct way to pronounce Odysseus? Is it Oh-diss-e-us, or Oh-diss-oose (as in Zeus)? If the first pronounciation is correct, then why is Zeus pronounced like Zoose, as opposed to Zee-us?

einzelwesen
10-21-2002, 10:24 AM
It's pronounced 'oh-dis-see-us' (slur the words slightly and say it all quickly) said carefully and correctly, but it's said as 'oh-diss-e-us'. They're both correct, but the way that most speech slurs 'ess' sounds if they're together in a word disguises the fact that they're seperate parts of the word.

You would pronounce it as 'oh-diss-soose' if this was not true, as the 'dys' is seperate to the 'seus'- they're seperate 'ss' sounds and should be pronounced seperately, even if they're together in the word.

Zeus is pronounced 'zoose' because of the 'zeu', which is pronounced as 'zoo' in standard English.

Break Odysseus down:

O/dys/se/us

...it's got two 'ss' sounds together (the end of 'oh-diss' and the start of 'see-us'). It doesn't make sense to slur them together- they're seperate parts of the word.

Hope this was useful.

photopat
10-21-2002, 11:05 AM
This reminds me of something I was wondering about a while back. Why did the Greek hero Herakles become the Roman Hercules?

My idea is that the accents in the name shifted over time; at one point it would have been "hair/uh/klees," then gradually became "her/uh/kuh/lees," then "her/kuh/lees," and finally "her/cue/lees."

I don't have any basis for this. It's just an idea I had once.

Anybody have the actual explanation?

Jabba
10-21-2002, 11:05 AM
From the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Odyssey:
"-eus is a diphthong ( Zeus rhymes with puce and Odysseus has three syllables only)."

Floater
10-21-2002, 11:14 AM
I do not speek Greek but from what I've gathered the -eu- diphtong is correctly prononuced -ev- (like in Europe ev-ro-peh, the mythical princess that Europe is named after). Thus Zeus is pronounced zevs and Odysseus o-dis-evs.

Gary T
10-21-2002, 11:17 AM
It comes from a language each vowel is sounded. Although certain combinations (diphthongs) are treated as a single sound, you can see how the two sounds are blended/slurred to get there. The "eu" diphthong is a condensed form of EH and OOH. Say EH-OOH very fast and smoothly to get the original pronunciation.

Key features in the names under question are where the stress lies and aglicized pronunciation. Stressed syllables tend to resist elision and transformation more than unstressed ones.

In Odysseus, the "-eus" part is unstressed. In English pronunciaton, the "e" commonly becomes a half-long E and the "us" gets sounded as in "puss," but briefer. An alternative pronunciation in my dictionary is o-DIS-yoos, but one seldom hears that.

In Zeus, the "-eus" part is stressed. In English, it commonly becomes OOS as in "moose."

einzelwesen
10-21-2002, 11:19 AM
Meh. From what my classical scholar friends have told me, that's how it's pronounced. The rest I chucked in myself. I'm not one to challenge the Penguin Classics definition.... :-)

everton
10-21-2002, 11:30 AM
Originally posted by Gary T
... In English, it commonly becomes OOS as in "moose."
That ought to have read "in American English, it commonly becomes OOS as in "moose", Gary. Nobody pronounces it like that where I live. We say Z-you-s.

einzelwesen
10-21-2002, 11:42 AM
Ah, that'd explain it! I'm in Australia, so evidently we use the proper pronounciation as opposed to the Americanised one. Heh heh heh. Americans speak English in all sorts of funny ways, don't they? But then again, who doesn't?

toadspittle
10-21-2002, 12:59 PM
America: I will attest to the following common usage (regardless of correctness):

Zeus = "zoose"

Odysseus = "oh DISS ee us"



I have also heard Odysseus pronounced "oh DOOSE ee us" by aged English teachers (that is, American-born teachers of English Literature).

Gary T
10-21-2002, 02:02 PM
Originally posted by everton

That ought to have read "in American English, it commonly becomes OOS as in "moose", Gary. Nobody pronounces it like that where I live. We say Z-you-s.
Actually, my dictionary listed zyoos as an alternative pronunciation. Having never heard it myself, I glossed over it. It didn't occur to me that I was talking about American English, thanks for clarifying that.

dougie_monty
10-21-2002, 06:03 PM
In Modern Greek, of course, there are no diphthongs; besides zeta is, according to every language book dealing with Greek I have ever seen, pronounced zd or dz. And if the former diphthong eu comes just before an unvoiced final consonant, such as sigma, the upsilon is pronounced as English f, not v; thus:
Zeus: Dzeffs or Zdeffs
Odysseus: o-DEES-effs
Subject to correction by speakers of modern Greek, of course. :)

nonsmokingmirror
10-21-2002, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by toadspittle

I have also heard Odysseus pronounced "oh DOOSE ee us" by aged English teachers (that is, American-born teachers of English Literature).

Those aged teachers had a point -- that 'y' is a Greek letter upsilon (written Y (upper case), u (lower case)), and the accepted reconstruction of the classical (Attic, which was not the same as Homer's dialect but is about as close as we can get) Greek pronunciation of that letter is like modern German ü or the u in French tu - almost like an ee but with rounded lips.

Also, there was a grave accent on the -eus, and nobody exactly 100% knows how that would have been pronounced -- some kind of pitch change (musically a little higher than the other syllables), which can easily be heard as a light stress...

...so, the absolute final best guess at how Uncle Homer would have said it is something like

odüs-seus

...but it would be actively a bad idea to try and pronounce it like that while speaking English (due to danger of being lynched for gigantic pretentiousness, etc).

Odissayoos - OdissYOOs - it's all good... and remember, the Romans turned it into Ulysses, so whatever you say will be more accurate than they managed :D

ultrafilter
10-21-2002, 09:12 PM
Originally posted by Floater
I do not speek Greek but from what I've gathered the -eu- diphtong is correctly prononuced -ev- (like in Europe ev-ro-peh, the mythical princess that Europe is named after). Thus Zeus is pronounced zevs and Odysseus o-dis-evs.

This is true in modern Greek, but we have no reason to suspect that it holds in classical Greek as well. Of course, I'm not aware of any good reason to suspect that it doesn't, native speakers of classical Greek being so hard to come by these days.

tomndebb
10-21-2002, 10:57 PM
Ulysses


.


.


.

.

Yeah, yeah. That's the Roman/Latin corruption. Let a guy have a joke, willya?

handsomeharry
10-22-2002, 08:57 PM
yes, it is ulysses. and, i think kirk douglas ought to know!
btw, why are we assuming that zeus is pronounced with only one syllable?

caffeine_overdose
10-22-2002, 10:38 PM
How about Ozymandias? That is one that has always bothered me.

toadspittle
10-23-2002, 11:39 AM
btw, why are we assuming that zeus is pronounced with only one syllable?

B/c otherwise you end up on the Planet of the Apes.


Doctor Zaius, Doctor Zaius
Doctor Zaius, Doctor Zaius
Doctor Zaius, Doctor Zaius
Ohhhh, Doctor Zaius.

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