Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Sounds of Greek Four

#Greek #classical greek #greekabc #soundsof greek

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part 4 of a series of 4 posts to Metousia.

Τ τ 

Tau Tactics or Time or sTand

Υ υ 

 Upsilon The French U in Tu or the German ü or the Y in the form of Welsh that pronounces it as U. IPA [y] This sound tends to change to i and is pronounced as I in Modern Greek just as some Modern Welsh speakers use i for the sound spelt “Y” instead of the “u” and also explains Greek sun in sunthesis becoming sinthesis in English.

Φ φ 

 Phi The Aspirated P at the beginning of words like Phobos or English Pin or Pool or mop-handle.
Modern Greek however F as in Fat. Latin speakers lacked this sound and wrote Greek loan words starting with this sound with an F.

Χ χ 

 Chi An Aspirated K as in English Cat or Cool.

In Modern Greek it's a Fricative like the sound in the Gaelic (NOT the English) pronunciation of Loch or the ch in German words like Machen
This sound is also often transliterated as “h” as in Hue as it becomes ç before i and e but English speakers tend to hear it as a H so Classical Greek Metokhee is pronounced metohi in modern Greek.

Ψ ψ 

 Psi Ps Pi plus Sigma as in EcliPSe or English caPS

Ω ω 

 Omega the BIG O Ode Ocean like English sAW

There is NO H in Classical Greek. Aspirated letters have their own symbols.
Theta for Th Phi for Phi Chi for Kh. These are NOT Fricatives in Classical Greek!

However there is what scholars call a rough breathing.
Its not exactly the same as English H but is written as a h.

̒ ἁ ἑ ἡ ἱ ὁ ὑ ὡ

In classical Greek Ὀρος is oros but ὁρος is horos. Ῥήτωρ is rheetoor.

Although the historical rough breathing is used in written forms in many Modern Greek texts the “h” is NOT spoken and you will often see the breathing symbol omitted.
The dictionary form Holos ὅλος all becomes όλος olos.

(I am not going to explain Katherousa versus Dhemotika here!
That is a topic for a separate post)

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Sounds of Greek Three

#greek #sounds #greekabc

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part 3 of a 4 part series of posts on my Metousia blog!

Ν ν 
 Nu in Naxos or net

Ξ ξ 
 Xi usually a ks sound as in Sphinx sphinks or boX boks

Ο ο 
 Omicron O in Optic or pOt but in Modern Greek the sound in bOUght or tAUt and and note our u sound would have been written as ου!

Π π Pi in Perimeter or sPin

Ρ ρ Rho Rhinoceros or Run or thRee was more like the Scots Rolled R.

Σ ς σ Sigma Stasis or Sign and sTick

A medial double sigma as in thalassa is 2 S sounds NOT Z.

In Modern Greek s before a Voiced Consonant becomes Z.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Sounds of Greek TWO

#Greek #greekabc #classicalgreek

January is back to basics month on metousia during which I edit redo and hopefully some posts on some basics like the Greek Alphabet and Grammar

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced
 part two of a series of 4 blogs

Η η Eta
 a LONG e sound like the e in hAIry or French tête
Modern Greek I though or “ee” as in fEEt

Θ θ Theta 
 is an aspirated T as in the beginning of Tin or Tare or the sound in the middle of hot-house however it later became TH as in THIN. The lack of the fricative sound in Irish Gaelic is why some speakers of Irish English even those with no knowledge of Gaelic change th in some English words to a t sound. This is declining due to the influence of modern media but if you've ever wondered about the Irish accent jokes in old movies and books well that's the origin of them.

Θ θ th Φ φ ph Χ χ kh 
 are all aspirated sounds in Classical Greek not fricatives.

Ι ι Iota 
I in machIne or bIn.
These letters are ALL pronounced IOTA in Modern Greek.
However NOTE that in Modern Greek η υ ει οι υι all = ι as in English bEAd IPA [i]

Κ κ Kappa K in Kinetic or Back or sKin

Λ λ Lambda L in Labyrinth or Look

Μ μ M in Metaphor or Seem.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Sounds of Greek Part One

#greek #classicalgreek #sounds #pronounciation  #greek alphabet

At the beginning of each year I like to review the basics! Starting with the ABC

IF you're a long term follower I have updated this !

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

As the Greek ABC has 24 letters I will be posting this article as a series of 4 blogs over the next fortnight.

Part One Covers the letters from Alpha to Zeta

A Note to Classical scholars planning to visit Greece. Learn the Demotic pronunciation!
Modern Greeks may study some Homer and Classical writers in Secondary School or University but using katherousa even accidentally may be offensive or more importantly just not understood!

I have tried to explain these sounds in a way that will make sense to people who havn't studied linguistics. If you do want a more formal explanation check out the excellent Wikipedia sites on Greek Phonology and language.

A α Alpha 

The vowel in Archon or cAlm or cUp or Italian Amare.

B β Beta 

The B in Biology or Bed.
However in Modern Greek this is V as in Voice!
English V in OVER would be written as οβερ.
Classical Greek wrote W and V sounds as OU
so when citing Latin or other non Greek names like Valerius start with ου.

The B sound in Modern Greek is written as μπ
but note that this is “mb” in the middle of a word.

The Greek Diphthongs αυ ευ are pronounced av and ev or af and ef depending on the following consonant. So Αυγά is avga in Demotic and αυτός is aftos.

Γ γ Gamma 

The G in Graph or Gang or Got. It's a HARD G in Classical Greek!

Modern Greek has a j / y or a sound like the G in German sagen or jager
or the g in Spanish fuego or English Yield or Gem or suGar.
The G sound in English Get is written as γκ.
A double gamma is used to represent the “ng” sound in Angle and Angel in Classical Greek hence New Testament and Classical aggelos.
It's Angelus in Latin and Angel in English.
Gamma before κ χ and γ is nk or ng.

Δ δ Delta 

D in Democracy or Deed or Dot
Modern Greek Delta has become “dh” the soft sound in
English This or breadTH or faTHer.
D as a sound is now written as ντ which also represents “nd” in the middle of a Greek word.
Dachshunds are Dogs becomes something like νταχσουντ αρ ντογξ!

Ε ε Epsilon 

E in Epigram or the vowel in pEt or French é

Ζ ζ 

 Zeta was a zd or sometimes dz sound as in Zeus
like English aDZe, glaZeD or wiSDom
Modern Greek Zeta is Z as in English laZy!
Τζ in Modern Greek is a ts dz type sound.

Other letters used to represent double consonants also known as digraphs are
Ξ ξ and Ψ ψ. This is a sensible innovation as Greek verbs add s to their stems in the Future and Aorist.

Saturday, 6 January 2018


#epiphany #magi #persians #iranians

Matthew 2:1

"behold magi from the east

There is a tradition of translating magi as "Wise men" however the word used in Greek is MAGI and hence a reference to priests from what is now Iran although Iran was then Parthia and covered a far wider area. So this Mosaic from Ravenna is possibly a fairly accurate depiction

Much as people love the Three Kings from the East legend or the variant of them being multi-ethnic which seemed to have started in the Middle Ages further on in Matthew it states they returned to their own country "eis teen khooran autoon" which suggests one point of origin ?

However given only Matthew mentions this visit and his witnesses were locals remembering events that happened 30 to 40 years or longer earlier its not impossible that someone misunderstood what the strangers said about where they came from though Matthew does make a point of mentioning they also visited Herod's court and were seen by the public in Jerusalem inquiring about recent births.

Anatoloon means the direction of  the sunrise so the magi could have included a group of people from various Eastern nations, Arabia, Iran, Mesopotamia, even India, whose paths converged on the way to Jerusalem.

Matthew does say MAGI not wise men so Magi from somewhere in the Parthian Empire!


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Its Bumping Season! # Hellenic Artifacts !

A medley of some of  images I've posted earlier

These 3 artifacts span several thousand years of Hellenic culture , Byzantine, Classical, and way back to the Neolithic!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Angel's Message

#angel #message #greek #luke #gospel #inkscape #xmas

For those who don't read Greek the translation

I bring good news to you of joy great 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year