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Greek Alphabet – An Introduction and Pronunciation Guide

The seemingly ancient and obsolete Greek Alphabet is actually the ancestor of the modern alphabet used by the western world today. In fact, the majority of European languages owes their alphabet directly or indirectly to the Greeks. Needless to say, the Greek Alphabet is something both familiar and something new to anyone who is reading this page. Let us take you to a tour of some facts about the Greek Alphabet.

Greek Alphabet – History Briefer

The Greek Alphabet has Phoenician roots. Legend has it that Cadmus, a Phoenician, introduced the alphabet to Greece. This may have well be true, as the origin of the symbols used in the alphabet are from Phoenician letter forms. The Greek letter forms was made around 1000-800 BC and later on, the symbols were utilized by the Etruscans. To understand the importance of this, we must know that before this time, writing is a foreign concept to the Greeks. It is only after all of these have occurred that the alphabet spread out to the various Greek sub-groups and from thence, it has made its way across Europe.

Greek Alphabet – Symbols and Pronunciation

 

Greek Symbol

 

 

Name

 

Classical Pronunciation

 

Modern Pronunciation

Α α

αλφα Alpha

a as in “father” a as in “father”

Β β

Beta

b as in “boat” v as in “vote”

Γ γ

Gamma

g as in “get”, but before kappa, gamma, xi, and chi, n as in “sing g as in “get”,
but y as in “yet” if found before iota and epsilon.
n as in “sing” before kappa, gamma, xi, and chi.

Δ δ

Delta

d as in dog th as in then (but not thin. Contrast with theta (θ) below.

Ε ε

E-psilon

e as in set e as in set

Ζ ζ

Zeta

sd as in wisdom
Notice that the s is voiced like the z in zoo.
z as in zoo

Η η

 

Eta

e as in set, but held longer ee /i/ as in meet

Θ θ

 

Theta

t as in top, but not as in stop

 

th as in thin, but not in then. Contrast with delta (δ) above.

Ι ι

 

Iota

short iota as i in it; long iota ee (/i/) as in meet ee (/i/) as in meet, or y as in yet

Κ κ

 

Kappa

unaspirated ck as in nickle,

but not aspirated, its pronounced as k as in kite.

ck as in sack

 

 

 

Λ λ

 

Lambda

l as in light l as in light

Μ μ

 

Mu

m as in mouse m as in mouse

Ν ν

 

Nu

n as in nose n as in nose

Ξ ξ

 

Xi

ks as in kicks
x as in ax
ks as in kicks
x as in ax

Ο ο

 

O-micron

o as in tote or boat o as in tote or boat

Π π

 

Pi

unaspirated p as in sap, not aspirated, its pronounced p as in pan p as in pan or sap

Ρ ρ

 

Rho

a trilled /r/ like Spanish r, not like English r /r/ more like the Spanish trilled r than the English r

Σ σ (ς)

 

Sigma

s as in sister, but z as inzoo before beta (β), gamma (γ), delta (δ), and mu (μ) s as in sister

Τ τ

 

Tau

unaspirated t as in stop, but not like the t in top unaspirated 
as in stop, but not like the t in top

Υ υ

 

U-psilon

short upsilon like the u in French tulong upsilon has the same sound, but it is held twice as long similar to German ü

Φ φ

 

Phi

aspirated p as in pot,
but not unaspirated p as in spot
/f/ as in fan or phone

Χ χ

 

Chi

aspirated k as in kit,
but not unaspirated as in skit
Not found in English, like Spanish j

Ψ ψ

 

Psi

ps as in lips ps as in lips

Ω ω

 

O-mega

Like the vowel sound in caught, but not like the o in cot o as in tote or boat

 

Greek Alphabet – Significance

Having a record of history is brought on by the invention of writing, and for the most of the western world, that means using the alphabet – something we maybe won’t have if not for the existence of the Greek Alphabet.

 

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