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Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting Benct Philip Jonsson <[log in to unmask]>:
> 
> 
>>R A Brown skrev:
>>
>>
>>>- having several different ways of spelling the same sound, in
>>>particular having half a dozen or so ways of spelling /i/;
>>
>>I was under the impression that at least some of these still
>>indicated /y/ in Byzantine times.  

Only OI, Y and the rarer YI.

Confusion of ypsilon & iota is found in Egyptian papyri as early as the 
2 & 3rd cent CE. But the Byzantine name ypsilon (upsilon) does indicate 
that the /y/ pronunciation was still the norm in the early Byzantine 
period, at least among the educated. The name means 'single y', and 
contrasts with 'oi diphthongos' /yDifToNgos/ 'digraph y'. But the change 
of /y/ --> /i/ seems to have been established before the end of the 
first millennium.

>>There are even some
>>modern dialects where /y/ > /u/ rather than /y/ > /i/.

The only one I am aware of is the very aberrant Tsakonian of the 
Peloponnese. Some cite it, in fact, as a continuation of the Doric 
pronunciation where upsilon remained /u/ & wasn't fronted. It seems far 
more likely, however, that Hellenistic /y/ became /ju/ (a 'natural' 
change for any anglophile, for example). Evidence for this (a) original 
OI also become /u/ in Tsakonian, and (b) there is palatalization before 
/u/ in all these cases, e.g. koimoumai /tSumume/.

> 
> The Byzantine period spans about a millennium - surely some changes went on
> under this period?

Indeed, there must have been, see above. Certainly, when scholars fled 
from Constantinople before its capture by the Turks, the Byzantine 
pronunciation they brought with them had the vowel upsilon pronounced /i/.

-- 
Ray
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