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Alphabet and language

Finding and pronouncing words in this app

Μαθαίνουμε την ελληνική αλφάβητο: We are learning the greek alphabet

Four Important Points when using this app

1) Spelling Greek words is messy if you don't have a Greek keypad (most devices allow you to change back and forth from Greek to English, but it can be tedious), so in this app I've put the common transliterations first, trying to be as consistent as possible so words should pop up when you use the search button (it works in reverse, so if think you know what it is in English, try that: the search may bring it up). One problem, as you can see in the Greek alphabet below, is that several of letters or combinations make the same sound.

2) Which syllable to stress when pronouncing a Greek word is fundamental, which is why any Greek word with more than one syllable has an accent. Accents aren't readily available on most mobile devices so I've left them out in the transliterations, but made sure to put them in all the Greek words so you can work it out and make sure that people understand what you're saying. They will honestly be puzzled if you don't get it right. Occasionally when words jam a lot of vowels together you'll get an umlaut ¨ (as in προϊόν, product) to let you know there aren't any funky diphthongs happening here.

3) Because Greek has various cases (ie. nominative, genitive, dative) word order can easily change (for example ζωμός βοδινού and βοδινός ζωμός both mean beef broth). Fortunately while there are numerous regional accents, there are relatively few spelling variations (unlike Italian!)

4) I haven't included the hundreds of words that Greek has borrowed directly from familiar words in English (there is no Hellenic equivalent of the Académie Française to impose new words; the Greek language, as it evolved over the past 3000 or so years, has quite enough, thank you very much), and one of the fun things about travelling in Greece is working them out once you get to know the secret code (aka the alphabet). See if you can work out μπουγιαμπέσα, ντόνατ and ουίσκι (answers at the bottom).

The Greek Alphabet

Α α (alpha): pronounced as A as in ‘father’

Β β (beta): pronounced as V (transliterated as V)

Γ γ (gamma): pronounced as guttural G or Y sound (transliterated to match the sound, usually)

Δ δ (delta): pronounced as TH as in ‘though’ (but transliterated as D to not be confused with Θ)

Ε ε (epsilon): pronounced as E as in ‘bet’

Ζ ζ (zeta): pronounced as Z

Η η (eta): pronounced as E as in ‘bee’; usually transliterated as an I to avoid confusion with epsilon

Θ θ (theta): pronounced as TH as in ‘thin’

Ι ι (iota): pronounced as E as in ‘bee’; sometimes as Y in ‘yet’

Κ κ (kappa): pronounced as K

Λ λ (lambda): pronounced as L

Μ μ (mu): pronounced as M

Ν ν (nu): pronounced as N

Ξ ξ (xi): pronounced as X as in ‘ox’

Ο ο (omicron): pronounced as O as in ‘cot’

Π π (pi): pronounced as P

Ρ ρ (rho): pronounced as R

Σ σ/ς (sigma): pronounced as S

Τ τ (tau): pronounced as T

Υ υ (ipsilon): pronounced ee as in 'bee' (transliterated as Y to limit the confusion!)

Φ φ (phi): pronounced as F (commonly transliterated as PH)

Χ χ (chi): pronounced as the CH as in ‘loch’ (commonly transliterated as H to keep people from saying CH as in church)

Ψ ψ (psi): pronounced as PS as in ‘stops’

Ω ω (omega): pronounced as O as in ‘cot’

Diphthongs and Consonant Doubles

ΑΕ αε: short E as in ‘bet’ (transliterated as AE to avoid confustion)

ΕΙ ει / ΟΙ oi: I as in ‘machine’ (transliterated as EI or OI to avoid confusion).

ΟΥ ου: OO as in ‘too’ (transliterated as OU to limit confusion)

ΑΥ αυ: AV or AF (transliterated as AV)

ΕΥ ευ: EV or EF

ΙΥ ιυ: IV or IF (transliterated as IV)

ΓΓ γγ: NG as in ‘angry’ (transliterated as NG)

ΓΚ γκ: hard G; NG within word (transliterated as either one)

ΝΤ ντ: D; NT within word (transliterated as either one)

ΜΠ μπ: B sound, or MP within word (transliterated as either one)


Answers to quiz: bouillabaisse, doughnut and whisky

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Dunk 🐝