Ancient Greek #1: Greek Alphabet


The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters, most of which were adapted from Phoenician letters. Since we won’t use transliteration (Latin letters) in the Greek readings in these lessons, it’s important to learn the Greek alphabet before moving on:

Letter Name Latin Equivalent “Ancient” pronunciation (IPA) Modern pronunciation (IPA)
Α α alpha a a, aː a
Β β beta b b v
Γ γ gamma g g, ŋ ʝ, ɣ, ŋ
Δ δ delta d d ð
Ε ε epsilon e e e
Ζ ζ zeta z zd, dz z
Η η eta e ɛː i
Θ θ theta th θ
Ι ι iota i i, iː, j i
Κ κ kappa k k c, k
Λ λ lambda l l l, ʎ
Μ μ mu m m m
Ν ν nu n n n, ɲ
Ξ ξ xi ks ks ks
Ο ο omicron o o o
Π π pi p p p
Ρ ρ rho r/rh r, r̥ r
Σ σ, ς sigma s s s, z
Τ τ tau t t t
Υ υ upsilon y/u y, yː, w i, v, f
Φ φ phi ph f
Χ χ chi ch/kh x, ç
Ψ ψ psi ps ps ps
Ω ω omega o o

Ancient Greek pronunciation is, to some extent, unknown. However, there are various methods used to approximate it. Typically, Ancient Greek professors in Greece use modern Greek pronunciation, whereas elsewhere, professors use the Erasmian Pronunciation. The table above shows IPA varians of both the ancient Erasmian approximation and the modern Greek pronunciation.

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