Your guide to reading and composing the Greek scripts

This class presents the Ancient Greek alphabet through explanations, videos and workouts.

Greek Alphabet & Writing: A Synopsis

Greek has always been written with an alphabet. Each symbol more or less corresponds to one sound in an alphabet. The Greek alphabet is utilized to compose the Greek language for over 2700 years. The exclusion can also be the form that is oldest associated with the written Greeek language, referred to as Mycenaean Greek, that has been encoded in a writing system called a syllabary.

In this concise that is single, i will show the many types of Greek writing. Across the means, we’ll coach you on to publish the scripts on your own. Yourself yearning for more practice with letters, accents, words and phrases, consider getting more hands-on time with my thorough, step-by-step workbook called Learn to Write Ancient Greek if you find.

The Early Greek Alphabet

Luckily, the form that is early of Greek alphabet can be among the list of simplest to understand. Let us travel straight back more than 2000 years. Initially, the Greeks composed in exactly what we call UPPERCASE letters. This includes a number of epigraphic and scripts that are monumental that have been etched into stone and painted on pottery. The first Greeks did not yet integrate the diacritics (“accent marks” and “breathing marks”) that embellish and complicate later Greek writing.

Greek Letters Greek Letter Names Pronunciation
? ???? a in father
? ???? b
? ????? g
? ?????
? ???? sd in Thursday
? ??? e in they
? ???? th in pot-hole, maybe maybe perhaps not in thing
? ???? i in sing
? ????? k in sky
? ?????? l
? ?? m
? ?? n
? ??? x in fax, maybe maybe not instance
? ??????? o in sock
? ??? p in spire
? ?? r (trilled)
? ????? s
? ??? t in stay
? ?????? u in French tu*
? ??? ph in loophole
? ??? kh in backhoe
? ??? ps in lips
? ????? o in therefore

* To make this sound, round your lips to pronounce the “oo” in “soon” but say the “ee” in “seem” alternatively.

A few records. You can spell names and other words that are greek might know utilising the equivalents We give above. Decide to try reading: ????????, ????????, ??????.

This kind of Greek ended up being written without areas. As an example, ??????????????????? is “alpha and beta and gamma”.

Right right Here we omit some “extra” letters lacking from standard variations for the alphabet, such as digamma.

The following image is a close-up of Greek text in the famous Rosetta rock. Try to find ???????????? and ?????????? in this text.

The Later Uncial Script

The seed of very very early writing that is greek as a wide range of various scripts. By the millenium that is first of age, Hellenic Koine Greek (????? simply means “common”) took over whilst the talked language, because of Alexander’s conquest. This role that is multinational just solidified underneath the iron hold associated with the Romans. Through the Eastern Empire, Greek stood as the standard written language.

The Greek alphabet utilized in texts during this time period can be “uppercase only”, nonetheless it includes a unique style. We call this the alphabet that is uncial.

Should you choose any sleuthing that is archaeological you will find that Uncial ended up being typical in Greek texts on papyrus, parchment and vellum during the very very early years advertising. Hence, the Uncial script is included right here perhaps maybe not only because of its interest to pupils associated with brand brand New Testament and very early Christianity, but additionally due to the tremendous historical value of works from the period that is roman.

Just like the original uppercase script, Uncials had been written with no areas between terms.

Below the thing is a photo of a authentic ancient papyrus with Uncial writing. Make an effort to find the phrases that are following ?????????, ????????????, ?????????.

The Greek Minuscule Alphabet

Sometime in the last 2000 years, Greek got smaller. Particularly, Greeks started to write with what we call lowercase letters today. In a few instances, we find both uppercase (“majuscule”) and lowercase (“minuscule”) letters utilized together. The minuscules came to dominate – lowercase became far more plentiful in all cases.

You will learn how to used this mixed, minuscule-based script if you learn the Ancient Greek language from any modern book. Like in English, proper nouns (names of individuals and places) begin with a money page. Paragraphs additionally begin with a letter that is capitalized but specific sentences usually do not.

Let’s have a look at the lowercase and uppercase variations of each and every letter in this script.

Majuscule & Minuscule Greek Name
? ? ????
? ? ????
? ? ?????
? ? ?????
? ? ? ?????
? ? ????
? ? ???
? ? ????
? ? ????
? ? ?????
? ? ??????
? ? ??
? ? ??
? ? ???
? ? ? ??????
? ? ???
? ? ??
? ? ????? *
? ? ???
? ? ? ?????
? ? ???
? ? ???
? ? ???
? ? ? ????

* lowercase ????? is written ? at the end of the word and ? everywhere else.

I’ve held two secrets away from you. First, some Ancient Greek words start out with an “h”. Each time a term begins having an h-sound, the minuscule script works on the breathing that is rough along with the following vowel (? = “ha”). Realize that rough respiration appears like a quote that is single towards the term. Whenever a term will not start having an h-sound, we compose a smooth breathing mark over the vowel (? = “a”).

Initial vowels simply simply essay helper take rough or breathing that is smooth. An”r that is initial requires a rough breathing mark, too: ?? tells us to pronounce the word hro (usually spelled “rho” in English). These breathings usually do not affect other consonants that are initial just to vowels and rho.

The secret that is second related to the funny-looking markings perched atop some vowels: severe accent (?), grave accent (`) and circumflex (?). These diacritics provide us with pronunciation info that is extra. Because of them, we all know to improve our pitch (?), reduced our pitch (?) or raise-then-lower it (?) while pronouncing a vowel. Initially, this sort of modification in intonation sounds tricky, but it simply calls for visibility and training.

The most complex situation happens whenever both the tone therefore the respiration mark autumn regarding the exact same vowel. This only happens when an initial vowel or diphthong is accented: ????, ??? since breathings apply to the beginning of a word. In both ???? and ???, the smooth respiration informs us to not pronounce an “h” at the start of the term: alpha and eta, maybe not *halpha and *heta. The pitch accent mark just sexactly hows how to “sing” the vowel – a little greater in ????, but high-then-low in ??.

Make an effort to say the following words and expressions out loud:

??????????, ????? ?? ??? ??????, ????, ??????, ????

The Byzantine Minuscule Script

If you are particularly enthusiastic about this alphabet, you shall learn more on my web web page focused on the Byzantine & Medieval Greek minuscule script.

Very striking samples for the minuscule script comes from texts written in belated antiquity plus the dark Ages, during the guideline associated with Byzantine Empire.

Notice the unique, cursive design and movement for the writing. All notes provided for the minuscule system above nevertheless apply (particularly diacritics, or breathings and pitch accent markings).

Below the truth is a graphic of an authentic ancient text, written in Greek because of the Byzantine minuscule style. Attempt to discover the words that are following expressions:

??? ?? ???? ???????, ??????????, ???? ??????, ???????

Tricky Components of Greek Pronunciation

Pronouncing the Greek language is, for the part that is most, simple when you have discovered the alphabet. There is hardly any akin towards the “silent ag ag e” of English “fares” or the “ough” in “through” versus “trough”. Nevertheless, there are always a few of pronunciation points worth your attention.

Diphthongs (vowel + vowel)

In ancient times, an iota or upsilon after another vowel represented a y-sound (?) or perhaps a w-sound (?), like in ??, ??, ??, ??.

Eventually, ?? ultimately acquired the noise of “oo” in “moon”: ???????
And ?? came to be pronounced like “ee” in “seem”: ????????

The iota subscript (a little iota written below an alpha, eta or omega) makes for the misleading diphthong. Iota subscript typically goes unpronounced: ? ? ? . Students and learners tend to be taught to ignore that small iota, but behind its silence lies its historic value.

Consonant + consonant

The exact same consonant written twice in Greek (a geminate or double consonant) indicates which you keep the consonant sound out much much longer. Two consonants, doubly long – that is the fundamental understanding. Greece’s very name in Greek comes with an exemplory case of double-lambda: ?????.

A g is just a g for the most part (like in English game or offer, not age or gentle). Often times, however, Greek gamma plays its tricks that are own it often appears such as the “n” in “sing”. That unique velar nasal noise is located just if gamma comes before “k” and “g” noises that trigger the pronunciation that is nasal.

Gamma before kappa: ??????
Gamma before gamma: ???????
Gamma before mu: ????

FAQ – Faqs about Ancient Greek Language Writing

What’s the initial (or the earliest) written Greek?

Greek was written in several variations of two scripts that are different. The script that is second all of the variations we discovered above, and is referred to as Greek alphabet. Greek continues to be written by using this alphabet.

there was a also older Greek composing system understood from inscriptions in Crete and southern Greece. We understand this script as Linear B, plus it appears totally unrelated towards the Greek that is later alphabet. Inscriptions in Linear B preserve a very early dialect called Mycenaean Greek. Linear B predates the Greek alphabet by maybe 500 years. It really is a syllabary (symbols represent syllables, maybe maybe maybe not letters that are individual noises) with some logographs (“picture-words”).

The Greek alphabet must around have been by enough time Homer’s epic poetry was written, possibly before 750 BC ( significantly more than 2700 years back). Having said that, the Mycenaean Greeks borrowed their Linear B writing system through the Minoans. The Mycenaean Greeks first inscribed their language in the 1300s BC (3300 years back).