Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Sounds of Greek Fourth in a Series

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part 4 of a series of 4 blogs over one week.

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 a 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 F as in Fat

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

Altough 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)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Sounds of Greek Third in a Series

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part 3!

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

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 Modern Greek the sound in bOUght or tAUt and spells u 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 a Z.
In Modern Greek s before a Voiced Consonant becomes a Z

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Sounds of Greek Second in a Series

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part two of a series of 4 blogs over one week.

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 A aspirated T as in the beginning of Tin or Tare or the sound in the middle of hot-house however it later became a 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 Φ φ Χ χ are all aspirated letters in Classical Greek.

Ι ι Iota I in machIne or bIn.
These letters are ALL pronounced IOTA 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.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Sounds of Greek Part One

How Greek Was and Is Pronounced

This is part One!

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

A Note to Classical scholars planning to visit Greek. 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 this in a way that will make sense to people who havn't studied linguistics in College or University. 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 a V as in Voice! English V would be written as οβερ.
Classical Greek wrote W and V sounds when citing Latin or other non Greek names like Valerius using ου.

The b sound in Modern Greek is written as μπ but note that this is “mb” in the middle of a word. A bizarre example of this is a recent news shot of graffiti insulting the mpatso or cops!

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 the 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 or 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.


Metousia is a Greek word meaning sharing.

Metousia will be a Blog about Classical and sometimes later Greek language and culture.

I'll be using utf8 and Unicode imbedded in html to bring you posts about the Greek ABC, poetry, grammar, prose, drama, and much more. If you can't see the Greek letters or get any blank squares shoqing mid word please check your computer and browser are set to read Unicode!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Metousia Introduction The Greek ABC

Metousia means sharing.

This is a blog mostly about ClassiclalGreek language with some diversions into later forms of Greek.

Posts will feature topics like grammar, syntax, Greek script, the Classics, why you should read certain authors, reviews of textbooks,poetry, metre, archaeology, and related topics.

Α α Β β Γ γ Δ δ Ε ε Ζ ζ
Η η Θ θ Ι ι Κ κ Λ λ Μ μ
Ν ν Ξ ξ Ο ο Π π Ρ ρ Σ σ
Τ τ Υ υ Φ φ Χ χ Ψ ψ Ω ω

The Diphthongs

αι αυ ει ευ ηι ηυ οι ου

The Greek alphabet was the first to include signs for both consonants and vowels.

Some other scripts had signs for consonants or had signs for consonants and vowels in syllables.

More on the Greek script in the next post.