Greek Alphabet and Pronunciation

This was covered today during the first day of class.

For those of you who would say that Greek is “Greek to me,” here’s a lesson for you…

1. Here is the Greek alphabet in capital letters and lower case letters with their names:

Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ
Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω

α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ
μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

alpha beta gamma delta epsilon zeta eta theta iota kappa lambda mu nu xi omicron pi rho sigma tau upsilon phi chi psi omega

2. These Greek letters look similar to Latin letters and also represent similar sounds:

α β δ ε ι κ ο ς τ υ
alpha beta delta epsilon iota kappa omicron sigma tau upsilon

3. These Greek letters look like Latin letters but represent different sounds:

η (ēta) is not ‘n’. The Greek letter η makes an /e/ sound, transliterated as ē.

ν (nu) is not ‘v’. The Greek letter ν makes an /n/ sound.

ρ (rho) is not ‘p’. The Greek letter ρ makes an /r/ sound.

χ (chi) is not ‘x’. The Greek letter χ makes a /kh/ sound, transliterated as ‘ch’.

ω (ōmega) is not ‘w’. The letter ω makes an /o/ sound, transliterated as ō.

4. These Greek letters are transliterated with two letters:

θ = th
ξ = ks, xs, or x
φ = ph, pronounced /f/
χ = ch, pronounced /kh/
ψ = ps

5. The Greek letter sigma is written differently when it appears at the end of words:

σεισμός, seismos, ‘shaking, earthquake’
σής, sēs, ‘moth’
σιτιστός, sitistos, ‘fattened’

6. Greek vowels and ρ (rho) must have breathing marks ( ̔ or ̓ ) if they begin a word:

ἀ, a (smooth breathing)
ἁ, ha (rough breathing – makes ‘h’ sound)

ῥ (rho) and ὑ (upsilon) always have rough breathing when they begin a word.

7. Greek has two sets of vowels that relate to one another:

ω (ō mega) is the long form of ο (o micron)
η (ēta) is the long form of ε (epsilon)

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