As a foreigner in any part of the world where the common tongue (English) of the world isn’t used to communicate, it often becomes a problem as it breeds stress and constraints to the foreigners there. It therefore becomes a necessity to be able to understand the native language of that particular area so that such a person can be able to do a couple of things in the area.
This also goes for visitors in Greece, stressful travel can occur, especially if you’re traveling alone and don’t speak the language. Knowing the Greek alphabet’s letters can go a long way in making you feel at home if you’re considering a vacation to Greece this year. You necessarily don’t have to know the indepth of this language but understanding the basics would help you read and write Greek alphabets to an extent: therefore, this blog post would serve as a guide to help you read and write Greek so you can read their signs while in the country and not get lost.
Greek alphabet and its history
Greeks having firsthand knowledge of contemporary Phoenician writing created the Greek alphabet. It was quickly re-exported eastward to Phrygia, where a comparable writing was developed, almost as swiftly as it had been established on the Greek mainland. The Greek alphabet was also transported west with Euboean or West Greek traders, where the Etruscans modified it for their own language to finally give rise to the Latin alphabet. The adoption of Phoenician letter shapes, which were descended from the North Semitic alphabet, in the 8th–9th century BC marks the beginning of the history of the Greek alphabet. If you’d like to learn more about the Semitic languages that existed in early Ancient Greece and are still spoken today. After Linear B, the syllabic script used to write Mycenaean Greek until the fall of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Greek Dark Period, was lost, the Greek alphabet was created throughout the Iron Age decades. The modern Greek alphabet hasn’t altered since the late 5th century BC, when it first took on its current form. The lettering on ancient Greek inscriptions can therefore genuinely be read by Greeks living now.
Even if you didn’t study Greek, being able to read the Greek alphabet’s letters will help you navigate the language more easily because certain Greek terms are comparable to English words. When you know the alphabet, the rest will be simple and easy. The Greek alphabet, which begins with the letter alpha and ends with the letter omega makes these two letters an excellent spot to start studying.
The Greek alphabet has 24 letters, of which 17 are consonants and 7 are vowels, it is composed of 7 vowels (α, ε, η, ι, ο, υ, and ω) and 17 consonants (β, γ, δ, ζ, θ, κ, λ, μ, ν, ξ, π, ρ, σ, τ, φ, χ, and ψ). Several of the Greek characters will surely be familiar to you, but you might not know how to say them properly. It is important to note that in Greek, “beta” is pronounced “vayta,”
“Psi” is spoken with a “puh” sound rather than a silent “p,” and “Delta” has a “d” sound that is softer than “th.” Here is how to pronounce each Greek letter and how each letter appears when written:
- Αα = άλφα = AHL-fah pronounce “α” like ah, as in the word alone
- Ββ = βήτα = VEE-tah pronounce “β” like v (not b), as in the word very
- Γγ = γάμα = GHAH-mah pronounce “γ” like a softly gargled gh or y
- Δδ = δέλτα = THEL-tah pronounce “δ” like the hard th sound in the word them
- Εε = ‘εψιλον = EHP-see-lohn pronounce “ε” like eh in the word ever
- Ζζ = ζήτα = ZEE-tah pronounce “ζ” like z as in zoo
- Ηη = ήτα = EE-tah pronounce “η” like ee as in seen
- Θθ = θήτα = THEE-tah pronounce “θ” like the soft th sound in three
- Ιι = γιώτα = YO-tah pronounce “ι” like ee as in seen
- Κκ = κάππα = KAH-pa pronounce “κ” like the letter k
- Λλ = λάμδα = LAHM-thah pronounce “λ” like the letter l
- Μμ = μι = MEE pronounce “μ” like the letter m
- Νν = νι = NEE pronounce “ν” like the letter n
- Ξξ = ξι = KSEE pronounce “ξ” like the letter x as in the word expect
- Οο = όμικρον = OH-mee-kron pronounce “ο” like oh
- Ππ = πι = PEE pronounce “π” like the letter p
- Ρρ = ρο = ROH pronounce “ρ” like the letter r
- Σσ/ς = σίγμα = SEEGH-mah pronounce “σ” like the letter s
- Ττ = ταυ = TAHF pronounce “τ” like the letter t
- Υυ = ύψιλον = EEH-psi-lohn pronounce “υ” like ee in seen
- Φφ = φι = FEE pronounce “φ” like the letter f
- Χχ = χι = HEE pronounce “χ” like a throaty ch as in the word challah
- Ψψ = ψι = PSEE pronounce “ψ” like the ps in the word chips
- Ωω = ωμέγα = oh-MEH-ghah pronounce “ω” like oh
The Greek language is written using the Greek script. It shouldn’t be mistaken with the incorrectly utilized placeholder text for “Greek”. The 15th century saw the debut of the first Greek script typefaces. While the capital letters continued to have their inscriptional roots, the lowercase letters closely mirrored the major scribal hands of the time. Greek typefaces developed over time, keeping some of the cursive foundations of their lowercase forms but expanding the spectrum of typographically suitable forms. Greek uppercase forms served as the basis for the first Cyrillic writing system.
The writing system invented in Greece is known as the Greek alphabet, and it first occurs in the 8th century BCE archaeological record. Many centuries before the Greek alphabet was created, the Linear B script was employed to write Greek during the Mycenaean period, so this wasn’t the first writing system to be used for the language. In 1100 BCE, the Linear B script was lost, and until the Greek alphabet was created, there was no written language in Greece.
The 24 letters of the classical alphabet, 7 of which were vowels, were all capital letters and were perfect for inscriptions and monuments. Three scripts that were better suited for handwriting were derived from it: uncial, which was essentially the Classical capitals modified for writing with a pen on paper and similar to hand printing, and cursive and minuscule, which were running scripts with joined letters and significant letter shape modification. Around the ninth century CE, minuscule, which took its place, evolved into the contemporary Greek handwriting style.
Reading and Writing Greek
As you need to grasp the Greek language in order to understand what you are reading, it goes without saying that we need to study the Greek language in order to be able to read books and novels in that language. It has been established that reading is a very valuable and successful tool for learning languages. This would help because you learn a term more effectively by adopting standard methods of Greek language learning if you come across it multiple times in the same book or in various books. The methods listed below can be used to become fluent in the Greek language through reading:
- Choose for books that are just right for you—not too simple or complex. Too-easy books won’t teach you new vocabulary in the language you read them in, nor will they introduce you to complex metaphors and sentence structure, so read books in Greek Read a book that you have already read in your native Language.
- Reading will be easier for you if you are familiar with the plot. You will acquire more vocabulary and sentence structures in Greek language so be sure to read a book that you have already read in your native Language.
- The greatest technique to become fluent in Greek language and develop your writing style is to memorize effective sections that you reproduce from the books you read. By doing so, you will gain a better understanding of the language you want to study, particularly its sentence structure, metaphors, and sophisticated vocabulary.
- If all you want to be able to read when you go is a few road signs, learning how the Greeks pronounce the alphabet won’t necessarily be of much use to you. But sooner or later, most people will pick up some of it. This is it:
The following are the different letters of the alphabet: alpha, veeta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeeta, eeta, theeta, giota, kappa, lamda, mee, nee, xee, omikron, pee, roh, sigma, taf, ipsilon, fee, hee.
After this has been done, you also have to ensure that you continually follow through with the process and soon you’ll be a guru at speaking and writing Greek.
How to read Greek
Learning to read the Greek alphabet isn’t as tough as you might imagine because it was the forerunner of all European alphabets. There are certain Greek letters that are unique to the language. Some of these, nevertheless, you might remember from your Science courses. Consider the letters sigma, pi, tau, or delta as examples. This does not imply that letters that appear the same in both alphabets will always have the same pronunciation. As an illustration, the Greek letter B is pronounced similarly to the English letter V. Visitors who are attempting to learn a few words of modern Greek may find this confusing.
The same letter can be pronounced in English in a variety of ways. Consider how different the letter “a” sounds in words like “apple,” “ball,” “man,” and “flakes.” Nonetheless, while reading Greek, all of the letters have the same pronunciation. The letters and X, as well as letters included within a letter combination, are exceptions. For instance, the Greek letter “α” has the same pronunciation in the words – μαμά, αέρας, καλημέρα, παρακαλώ, αρχή. It always sounds like “a” in the word “apple”. Real simple right?
Go ahead and start learning these words now and see how you’ll become a pro sooner or later.
In summary, we now know about Greek Languages and its history. We also talked about the Greek alphabet, its letters and their shapes while talking about Greek scripts too. We moved on to give guides on how to read and write in Greek as a first timer. And we are sure that in no time, if you keep up with these steps you’ll become fluent in Greek language.
If this blog post was very insightful and you are interested in learning more, please let us know in the comment section. Also, additional resources for readers interested in learning more about Greek languages include:
Written by : Olamide Olajoseph