Your guide to writing and reading the Greek scripts

Your guide to writing and reading the Greek scripts

This class presents the Ancient Greek alphabet through explanations, videos and workouts.

Greek Alphabet & Writing: A Synopsis

Greek has typically been written having an alphabet. In a alphabet, each expression pretty much corresponds to 1 noise. The Greek alphabet is utilized to publish the Greek language for over 2700 years. The exclusion normally the form that is oldest of this written Greeek language, referred to as Mycenaean Greek, that was encoded in a writing system known as a syllabary.

In this concise that is single, i’ll demonstrate the different types of Greek writing. Across the real method, we’ll teach you to create the scripts yourself. 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

Happily, the very early kind of the Greek alphabet can be on the list of simplest to master. Let us travel straight back significantly more than 2000 years. Initially, the Greeks had written in that which we call UPPERCASE letters. This consists of a number of epigraphic and scripts that are monumental 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
? ???? b
? ????? g
? ????? d
? ?????? age in let
? ???? sd in Thursday
? ??? e in they
? ???? th in pot-hole, perhaps perhaps maybe not in thing
? ???? i in sing
? ????? k in sky
? ?????? l
? ?? m
? ?? n
? ??? x in fax, maybe perhaps 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 notes that are few. You can spell names and other Greek words 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 right Here we omit some “extra” letters lacking from standard variations of this alphabet, such as for instance digamma.

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

The Later Uncial Script

The seed of early writing that is greek in to a quantity 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 associated with the Romans. Through the entire Eastern Empire, Greek endured while the standard written language.

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

Should you choose any archaeological sleuthing, you will discover that Uncial ended up being typical in Greek texts on papyrus, parchment and vellum throughout the early years advertising. Hence, the Uncial script is roofed right here not merely for the interest to pupils associated with the brand brand New Testament and very very early Christianity, but in addition due to the tremendous historic value of works through the Roman period.

Just like the uppercase that is original, Uncials had been written without any areas between words.

Below the thing is a photo of an 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 begun to compose with exactly what we call lowercase letters today. In some cases, we find both uppercase (“majuscule”) and lowercase (“minuscule”) letters utilized together. The minuscules came to dominate – lowercase became far more plentiful in all cases.

You will learn how to used this mixed, minuscule-based script if you learn the Ancient Greek language from any modern book. Like in English, proper nouns (names of individuals and places) focus on a money page. Paragraphs additionally begin with a capitalized page, but specific sentences don’t.

Let us take a peek during the uppercase and lowercase variations of each and every page in this script.

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

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

I have kept two secrets away from you. First, some Ancient Greek words start having an “h”. When 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. When a term will not begin having an h-sound, we compose a breathing that is smooth above the vowel (? = “a”).

Initial vowels just just simply take rough or smooth respiration marks. A preliminary “r” takes 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 initial consonants, simply to vowels and rho.

The 2nd key has 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 boost our pitch (?), reduced our pitch (?) or raise-then-lower it (?) while pronouncing a vowel. Initially, this sort of change in intonation noises tricky, however it just calls for practice and exposure.

Probably the many complex situation happens whenever both the tone plus the respiration mark autumn on the exact same vowel. Since breathings connect with the start of a term, this just takes place when a preliminary 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 how to “sing” the vowel – a little greater in ????, but high-then-low in ??.

Attempt to say the words that are following expressions out noisy:

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

The Byzantine Minuscule Script

If you are particularly thinking about this alphabet, you shall learn a great deal more on my page specialized in the Byzantine & Medieval Greek minuscule script.

One of the more striking examples of this minuscule script comes from texts written in belated antiquity while the dark Ages, during the guideline associated with the Byzantine Empire.

Spot the unique, cursive design and movement for 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 graphic of a authentic ancient text, written in Greek because of the Byzantine minuscule style. You will need to discover the words that are following expressions:

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

Tricky Bits of Greek Pronunciation

Pronouncing the Greek language is, for the part that is most, effortless once you have discovered the alphabet. There’s hardly any akin to the “silent ag ag ag e” of English “fares” or the “ough” in “through” versus “trough”. Nevertheless, there are a handful 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, ?? eventually 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: ? ? that is ? . 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) indicates which you hold the consonant sound out longer. Two consonants, doubly long – that is the insight that is basic. Greece’s really name in Greek posseses an exemplory case of double-lambda: ?????.

A g is really a g for the part that is most (like in English game or provide, maybe maybe not age or mild). From time to time, however, Greek gamma plays its very own tricks – it often seems like the “n” in “sing”. That unique velar nasal noise is discovered just when 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 earliest (or the earliest) written Greek?

Greek is written in several variations of two various scripts. The 2nd script encompasses all the versions we discovered above, and is known as the Greek alphabet. Greek remains written making use of this alphabet.

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

The Greek alphabet must are around by enough time Homer’s epic poetry had been written, possibly before 750 BC ( more than 2700 years ago). Having said that, the Mycenaean Greeks borrowed their Linear B writing system through the Minoans. The Mycenaean Greeks first inscribed their language in the 1300s BC (3300 years ago).

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