THE SOUNDS OF GREEK
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 coming to be pronounced 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 like 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. This has been covered in another post.
Theta for Th Phi for Phi Chi for Kh. These are NOT Fricatives in Classical Greek! See the notes for each letter.
However there is what scholars call a rough breathing.
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)
If you would like to see these notes collected and expanded in an e-book or print book please let me. I am considering publishing on LuLu.