Greek alphabet

The greek alphabet - Greek symbols, English alphabet equivalents and Greek pronunciation.

Greek alphabet

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Greek Alphabet [edit]

The Greek alphabet - Greek letters, symbols, English alphabet equivalents and Greek pronunciation

Ancient Greek culture, science and philosophy have all influenced the modern world. So has the Greek language. The Greek alphabet is thousands of years old. Here is where it lies in the context of an Indo-European language evolution phylogeny:


Language Tree

Letters and symbols from the Greek alphabet are all around us. The word 'alphabet' derives from the first two letters, alpha and beta. Some of the Greek letters you'll know as other word meanings or brand names. Many are not generally known to have Greek origin. There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. Some of the Greek letter names and symbols have become different icons like the pi sign (for the mathematical value 3.142) and mu the micro symbol (µ). Other Greek letters and symbols will be less familiar. There are three 'i' letter - eta, iota and upsilon - each with the similar 'ee' sound, from classical Greek origins now redundant. For the same reason, there are two identical sounding 'o' (as in box) letters - omicron and omega.

 

The Greek alphabet


Greek name of letter


Symbol

English equivalent

Pronunciation

Alpha

Α

A

A as in smart

Beta

Β

B

V as in very

Gamma

Γ

G

Between Y as in yes and G as in go, but with no hard 'G' sound - more of a soft 'H' followed by the 'Y' sound in yes

Delta

Δ

D

Th as in the 

Epsilon

Ε

E

E as in very

Zeta

Ζ

Z

Z as in zoo

Eta

Η

E

Ee as in bee

Theta

Θ

Th

Th as in think

Iota

Ι

I

Ee as in bee or I as in bitter or sit

Kappa

Κ

K

K as in look

Lamda

Λ

L

L as in log

Mu

Μ

M

M as in man

Nu

Ν

N

N as in not

Xi

Ξ

X

X as in box

Omicron

Ο

O

O as in box

Pi

Π

P

P as in top, but softer and close to 'B'

Rho

Ρ

R, Rh

a rolled R

Sigma

Σ

S

S as in sap with a hint of Sh as in sugar

Tau

Τ

T

T as in lot, but softer and close to 'D'

Upsilon

Υ

U

Same as eta - Ee as in bee

Phi

Φ

Ph

Ph as in photo

Chi

Χ

Kh

Ch as in the scottish 'loch' but softer - not a hard sound

Psi

Ψ

Ps

Ps as in upside

Omega

Ω

M

like omicron - O as in box - or longer 'O' sound like the vowel sound in oar


Thanks for symbols Simon, and for pronunciation suggestions Pan. Thanks also R Keys for other coding suggestions.

Please note that as with most languages pronunciation varies according to regional dialect. Similarly, as with other languages, many of these Greek sounds can only be reliably produced by natural and fluent Greek-speaking people. Also, there will be some variation between the ancient Greek pronunciation and modern Greek language. The above is just a guide to pronunciation. The main purpose of this page is to identify and describe the many Greek letters that have entered the English language.



See also