The Greek alphabet (looking back)
The Greek language is one of the most ancient languages and one that has taken many centuries to develop into its present-day form. The most commonly accepted theory about its origins suggests that the Greek alphabet came down from the Phoenician alphabet and this is suggested by the shapes, names, and arrangements of the letters. Using and adapting the Phoenician alphabet, many changes and modifications were made: these modifications of existing letters resulted in the creation of new and additional letters.
Nowadays, Greek is the official spoken language of Greece and of Cyprus and it is also a minority language spoken in parts of Italy, Albania, Romania, Armenia, and Ukraine. There are many different local dialects of the Greek language with a variety of pronunciations in different parts of Greece and Cyprus.
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Here are some of the main features of the Greek alphabet:
- The Greek alphabet includes 24 letters: 7 vowels and 15 single and 2 double consonants.
- The Greek letters can be grouped into 3 categories: single and two-letter vowels /Single, double and two-letter consonants /Combinations.
- It is written from left to right.
- The letter sigma has three different forms (Σ, σ, ς). The use of each form depends on its position in a word.
- Diacritical marks such as the accent mark (‘) are used to help the reader with pronunciation.
Now let’s see the Greek letters one by one and see how each letter is pronounced:
-A, α a as in bat
-Η, η i as in fatigue
-Ι, ι i as in fatigue
-Υ, υ i as in fatigue
You can use Η, η as a definite article for feminine words eg. η μαμά, η φίλη
As an ending for feminine words eg. η πόλη, η αρχή
You can use Ι, ι as an ending for neutral words eg. το παιδί, το σπίτι
–Ε, ε e as in pen
–Ο,ο o as in lot
–Ω, ω o as in lot
You can use Ο, ο an ending for neuter words eg. το μωρό, το παγωτό
You can use Ω, ω as an ending for verbs in the active voice: (1st person) e.g. εγώ τρέχω, εγώ αγαπώ
EI,ει i as in fatigue
OI, οι i as in fatigue
AI, αι e as in pen
ΟΥ, ου u as in lubricant
You can use EI,ει as an ending for verbs in the active voice (3rd person) eg. αυτός τρέχει, αυτή πίνει
You can use OI οι as a definitive article and as an ending for masculine nouns (-ος) in the nominative form plural e.g.
Οι σκύλοι, οι άνθρωποι
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Β, β v as in voice Μ, μ m as in meet
Γ γ y as in year Ν, ν n as in need
Δ, δ th as in them Π, π p as in peep
Ζ, ζ z as in zebra Ρ, ρ r as in run
Θ, θ th as in thick Σ, σ, ς s as in soft
Κ, κ k as in key T τ t as in tea
Λ, λ l as in live Φ, φ f as in fire
Χ, χ h as in happy
Ξ, ξ ks as in beaks
Ψ, ψ ps as in shops
Τhey sound as two letters together, ξ= k+s and Ψ=p+s
Now, I would like to introduce you a friend with a ‘’special name’’: μπανταγκ/γγατσουτζου! Weird isn’t it? Well, my friend’s name comes from the two letters consonants and a vowel so it is easier to pronounce:
ΜΠ, μπ b as in beat
ΝΤ, ντ d as in dignity
ΓΚ, γκ/ ΓΓ, γγ g as in go
ΤΣ, τσ ts as in its
ΤΖ, τζ dz as in beads
Various letter combinations result in the production of a variety of different sounds.
Α + Υ = ΑΥ, αυ
Ε + Υ = ΕΥ, ευ
You can pronounce the combinations of α and ε with υ “αυ”, “ευ” as “af”, “ef” before γκ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ
However, you can pronounce the combinations like “αυ” “ευ”, as “av”, “ev”, before a vowel or before β, γ, δ, λ, μ, ν, ρ.
You can learn more about Maria and the Greek Alphabet!
Now it is time for our surprise challenge and to have a little fun with a quiz.