Your guide to reading and composing the Greek scripts
This training presents the Ancient Greek alphabet through explanations, videos and workouts.
Greek Alphabet & Writing: A Synopsis
Greek has always been written having an alphabet. Each symbol more or less corresponds to one sound in an alphabet. The Greek alphabet has been utilized to create the Greek language for over 2700 years. The exclusion normally the form that is oldest for the written Greeek language, called Mycenaean Greek, that was encoded in a writing system called a syllabary.
In this concise that is single, i’ll show the many types of Greek writing. Across the means, we’ll educate you on to compose 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 is also one of the simplest to master. Let us travel right back significantly more than 2000 years. Initially, the Greeks had written in exactly what we call UPPERCASE letters. Including many different epigraphic and monumental scripts, that have been etched into rock and painted on pottery. The early 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|
|?||????||sd in Thursday|
|?||???||e in they|
|?||????||th in pot-hole, maybe maybe perhaps not in thing|
|?||????||i in sing|
|?||?????||k in sky|
|?||???||x in fax, maybe maybe not instance|
|?||???????||o in sock|
|?||???||p in spire|
|?||???||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” instead.
A notes that are few. It’s not hard to spell names and other Greek terms you might already know just utilising the equivalents We give above. Decide to try reading: ????????, ????????, ??????.
This type of Greek ended up being written without areas. As an example, ??????????????????? is “alpha and beta and gamma”.
Right right Here I abandon some “extra” letters lacking from standard variations regarding the alphabet, such as for examples of good college essays instance 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 early writing that is greek as a range 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 had been just solidified underneath the iron hold regarding the Romans. Through the entire Eastern Empire, Greek endured as the standard written language.
The Greek alphabet found in texts during this time is additionally “uppercase only”, but it possesses unique design. We call this the Uncial alphabet.
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 through the very early years advertisement. Therefore, the Uncial script is roofed right right here perhaps maybe not merely because of its interest to pupils associated with the brand New Testament and very very very early Christianity, but in addition as a result of the tremendous historic value of works from the period that is roman.
Just like the uppercase that is original, Uncials had been written without any spaces between terms.
Below you see a photo of a authentic ancient papyrus with Uncial writing. Make an effort to find the following expressions: ?????????, ????????????, ?????????.
The Greek Minuscule Alphabet
Sometime within the past 2000 years, Greek got smaller. Especially, Greeks started to compose in exactly what we today call lowercase letters. In some situations, 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, you will see how exactly to utilized this blended, minuscule-based script. Like in English, appropriate nouns (names of individuals and places) focus on a money page. Paragraphs additionally begin with a letter that is capitalized but specific sentences don’t.
Let us take a good look at the uppercase and lowercase variations of every page in this script.
|Majuscule & Minuscule||Greek Name|
|? ?||? ?????|
|? ?||? ??????|
|? ?||????? *|
|? ?||? ?????|
|? ?||? ????|
* lowercase ????? is written ? at the end of a word and ? every-where else.
I have held two secrets from you. First, some Ancient greek language terms start with an “h”. Whenever a term begins by having an h-sound, the minuscule script works on the breathing that is rough together with the next vowel (? = “ha”). Notice that rough respiration seems like a quote that is single towards the phrase. Whenever a term doesn’t start by having an h-sound, we compose a breathing that is smooth over the vowel (? = “a”).
Initial vowels just simply just take rough or smooth respiration marks. 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 don’t affect other consonants that are initial simply to vowels and rho.
The 2nd key has regarding the funny-looking markings perched atop some vowels: severe accent (?), grave accent (`) and circumflex (?). These diacritics give us additional pronunciation information. As a result of them, we understand to increase our pitch (?), reduced our pitch (?) or raise-then-lower it (?) while pronouncing a vowel. Initially, this sort of improvement in intonation noises tricky, however it just calls for visibility and practice.
The absolute many complex situation does occur whenever both the tone and also the respiration mark autumn on the vowel that is same. Since breathings affect the start of a term, this only occurs when a short vowel or diphthong is accented: ????, ???. The smooth breathing tells us not to pronounce an “h” at the beginning of the word: alpha and eta, not *halpha and *heta in both ???? and ???. The pitch accent mark simply shows just how to “sing” the vowel – a little greater in ????, but high-then-low in ??.
You will need to say the following words and expressions out noisy:
??????????, ????? ?? ??? ??????, ????, ??????, ????
The Byzantine Minuscule Script
If you are especially enthusiastic about this alphabet, you shall learn far more on my web page specialized in the Byzantine & Medieval Greek minuscule script.
Probably one of the most striking examples associated with the minuscule script comes from texts written in belated antiquity therefore the dark Ages, during the guideline associated with the Byzantine Empire.
Spot the unique, cursive style and flow associated with writing. All records provided for the minuscule system above nevertheless apply (particularly diacritics, or breathings and pitch accent markings).
Below the thing is a graphic of an authentic ancient text, written in Greek with the Byzantine minuscule style. Attempt to find the words that are following expressions:
??? ?? ???? ???????, ??????????, ???? ??????, ???????
Tricky Items of Greek Pronunciation
Pronouncing the Greek language is, for the part that is most, effortless once you have discovered the alphabet. There is little 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)
An iota or upsilon after another vowel represented a y-sound (?) or a w-sound (?), as in ??, ??, ??, ?? in ancient times.
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 a diphthong that is deceptive. Iota subscript typically goes unpronounced: ? ? that is ? . Pupils and learners tend to be 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) shows you hold the consonant sound out much much longer. Two consonants, doubly long – that is the insight that is basic. Greece’s really name in Greek has an exemplory case of double-lambda: ?????.
A g is really a g for the many component (like in English game or provide, maybe maybe not age or mild). Often times, however, Greek gamma plays its very own tricks – it often appears just like the “n” in “sing”. That unique velar nasal noise is discovered only whenever 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 Writing
What is the earliest (or the earliest) written Greek?
Greek happens to be written in several variations of two scripts that are different. The script that is second all the variations we discovered above, and it is referred to as Greek alphabet. Greek is still written by using this alphabet.
It has an also older Greek system that is writing from inscriptions in Crete and southern Greece. We understand this script as Linear B, also it seems completely unrelated to your Greek that is later alphabet. Inscriptions in Linear B protect a very early dialect called Mycenaean Greek. Linear B predates the Greek alphabet by possibly 500 years. This is a syllabary (symbols represent syllables, maybe perhaps not specific letters or noises) with some logographs (“picture-words”).
The Greek alphabet must around have been by enough time Homer’s epic poetry had been written, perhaps before 750 BC ( significantly more than 2700 years back). On the other hand, the Mycenaean Greeks borrowed their Linear B writing system through the Minoans. The Mycenaean Greeks first inscribed their language within the 1300s BC (3300 years back).