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Your guide to writing and reading the Greek scripts

Your guide to writing and reading the Greek scripts

This tutorial presents the Ancient Greek alphabet through explanations, videos and exercises.

Greek Alphabet & Writing: A Summary

Greek has almost always been written by having an alphabet. Within an alphabet, each icon just about corresponds to 1 noise. The Greek alphabet happens to be utilized to publish the Greek language for over 2700 years. The exclusion can be the form that is oldest of this 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 demonstrate the different types of Greek writing. Over the real means, we’ll educate 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 very early kind of the Greek alphabet can be among the list of easiest to master. Let us travel straight straight back significantly more than 2000 years. Initially, the Greeks penned in just what we call UPPERCASE letters. Including many different epigraphic and monumental scripts, that have been etched into rock and painted on pottery. The first Greeks did not yet integrate the diacritics (“accent marks” and “breathing marks”) that embellish and complicate writing that is later greek.

Greek Letters Greek Letter Names Pronunciation
? ???? a in father
? ???? b
? ????? g
? ?????
? ???? sd in Thursday
? ??? e in they
? ???? th in pot-hole, perhaps perhaps 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 noise, round your lips to pronounce the “oo” in “soon” but say the “ee” in “seem” alternatively.

A few records. It’s easy to spell names and other Greek terms you might already fully know utilizing the equivalents We give above. Take to reading: ????????, ????????, ??????.

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

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

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

The Later Uncial Script

The seed of very very very early Greek writing sprouted right into an amount of various scripts. By the millenium that is first of period, Hellenic Koine Greek (????? simply means “common”) took over whilst the talked language, because of Alexander’s conquest. This international part ended up being just solidified underneath the iron hold for the Romans. Through the Eastern Empire, Greek endured whilst the standard written language.

The Greek alphabet utilized in texts during this period can also be “uppercase only”, but it possesses unique design. We call this the alphabet that is uncial.

Should you any sleuthing that is archaeological you will find that Uncial ended up being typical in Greek texts on papyrus, parchment and vellum throughout the very very early years advertisement. Therefore, the Uncial script is included right right here perhaps maybe not only because of its interest to pupils for the brand brand New Testament and very early Christianity, but in addition due to the tremendous historic value of works through the period that is roman.

Like the original uppercase script, Uncials had been written without any areas between terms.

Below the thing is a photo of a authentic papyrus that is ancient Uncial writing. Attempt to discover the phrases that are following, ????????????, ?????????.

The Greek Minuscule Alphabet

Sometime in the last 2000 years, Greek got smaller. Particularly, Greeks began to compose using exactly what we today call lowercase letters. In certain 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.

In the event that you learn the ancient greek language language from any contemporary guide, become familiar with just how to utilized this blended, minuscule-based script. Like in English, appropriate nouns (names of individuals and places) focus on a money page. Paragraphs additionally focus on a letter that is capitalized but specific sentences cannot.

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

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

* lowercase ????? is written ? at the conclusion of a word and ? every-where else.

I have held two secrets from you. First, some Ancient Greek terms begin with an “h”. Whenever a term begins by having an h-sound, the minuscule script works on the rough respiration mark together with the after vowel (? = “ha”). Notice that rough respiration appears like a quote that is single towards the term. Each time a term doesn’t start out having an h-sound, we compose a smooth respiration mark over the vowel (? = “a”).

Initial vowels just just take rough or smooth respiration marks. An”r that is initial has a rough respiration mark, too: ?? tells us to pronounce the word hro (usually spelled “rho” in English). These breathings usually do not connect with other consonants that are initial simply 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 understand to improve our pitch (?), reduced our pitch (?) or raise-then-lower it (?) while pronouncing a vowel. Initially, this type of modification in intonation noises tricky, but it merely calls for publicity and training.

The absolute most complex situation happens when both the tone and the respiration mark autumn on 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 never to pronounce an “h” at the start of your message: alpha and eta, maybe not *halpha and *heta. The pitch accent mark just shows how exactly to “sing” the vowel – a little greater in ????, but high-then-low in ??.

decide to try to say the following words and expressions out noisy:

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

The Byzantine Minuscule Script

If you should be especially thinking about this alphabet, you will learn far more on my web page focused on the Byzantine & Medieval Greek minuscule script.

Probably one of the most striking samples for the script that is minuscule from texts written in belated antiquity plus the dark Ages, throughout the guideline associated with Byzantine Empire.

Spot the initial, cursive design and movement associated with the writing. All records provided for the minuscule system above nevertheless apply (particularly diacritics, or breathings and pitch accent markings).

Below the truth is a picture of a authentic ancient text, written in Greek aided by the Byzantine minuscule design. You will need to find the words that are following expressions:

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

Tricky Bits of Greek Pronunciation

Pronouncing the Greek language is, for the many part, effortless once you have discovered the alphabet. There is little similar to the “silent ag ag e” of English “fares” or the “ough” in “through” versus “trough”. Still, there are certainly a handful of pronunciation points worth your attention.

Diphthongs (vowel + vowel)

In ancient times, an iota or upsilon after another vowel represented a y-sound (?) or even 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: ? ? ? . Pupils and learners in many cases are taught to ignore that small iota, but behind its silence lies its historic value.

Consonant + consonant

The consonant that is same twice in Greek (a geminate or double consonant) suggests you hold the consonant sound out much much longer. Two consonants, two times as long – that is the insight that is basic. Greece’s really name in Greek posseses a example of double-lambda: ?????.

A g is just a g for the part that is most (like in English game or provide, maybe maybe maybe not age or gentle). From time to time, however, Greek gamma plays its very own tricks – it often appears just like the “n” in “sing”. That unique velar nasal noise is located just whenever gamma comes before “k” and “g” noises that trigger the nasal pronunciation.

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

FAQ – Faqs about Ancient Greek Composing

What is the initial (or the earliest) written Greek?

Greek is written in a variety of variations of two various scripts. The 2nd script encompasses all the variations we discovered above, and is referred to as Greek alphabet. Greek continues to be written by using this alphabet.

there clearly was a also older Greek system that is writing from inscriptions in Crete and southern Greece. We realize this script as Linear B, also it appears completely unrelated towards the Greek that is later alphabet. Inscriptions in Linear B protect a dialect that is early Mycenaean Greek. Linear B predates the Greek alphabet by maybe 500 years. It’s a syllabary (symbols represent syllables, maybe maybe not specific letters or noises) with a few logographs (“picture-words”).

The Greek alphabet must were around by the time Homer’s epic poetry had been written, perhaps before 750 BC ( a lot more than 2700 years ago). The Mycenaean Greeks borrowed their Linear B writing system from the Minoans on the other hand. The Mycenaean Greeks first inscribed their language in the 1300s BC (3300 years back).

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