Professor Of Ancient Greek At Harvard University
This Revision Copyright ©2012 by Shawn Irwin

Lesson I - The Alphabet. Vowels, Consonants, Dipthongs.

S1. The Greek Alphabet has 24 letters.

Form Phonetic Value Name |||||||||||| Form Phonetic Value Name
Α α papa, father Alpha |||||||||||| Ν ν now Nu
Β β bed Beta |||||||||||| Ξ ξ wax Xi
Γ γ go, sing Gamma |||||||||||| Ο ο obey Omicron
Δ δ do Delta |||||||||||| Π π pet Pi
Ε ε met Epsilon |||||||||||| Ρ ρ run Rho
Ζ ζ adze Zeta |||||||||||| Σ ς, σ sit Sigma
Η η prey Eta |||||||||||| Τ τ tell Tau
Θ θ thin Theta |||||||||||| Υ υ French u, German ü Upsilon
Ι ι pin, machine Iota |||||||||||| Φ φ graphic Phi
Κ κ kill Kappa |||||||||||| Χ χ German buch Chi
Λ λ land Lambda |||||||||||| Ψ ψ hips Psi
Μ μ men Mu |||||||||||| Ω ω tone Omega

S2. At the end of a word ς, elsewhere σ, as σκηνης, of a tent. of a tent.

S3. The vowels are α, ε, η, ι, ω, υ. The remaining letters are consonants.

S4. Vowels are either short or long. There are separate Greek characters (ε, η, ο, ω) for the e and o sounds, but not for a, i, and u sounds. In this book the long vowels are designated by ᾱ, η, ῑ, ω, ῡ; the short vowels are α, ε, ι, ω, υ.

S5. The consonants are divided into semivowels, mutes and double consonants.

S6. The semivowels are λ, μ, ν, ρ, σ, and γ-nasal (10). λ, μ, ν, ρ are liquids, σ is a siblant.

S7. The mutes are of three classes, and of three orders.

Classes Smooth Middle Rough
Labial or π-mutes π β φ
Palatal or κ-mutes κ γ χ
Lingual or τ-mutes τ δ θ

For memorization:
L π β φ
P κ γ χ
L τ δ θ

S8. Mutes of the same class are called cognate, those of the same order co-ordinate..

S9. The double consonants are ξ (for κς), ψ (for πς), and ζ.

S10. The consonants are pronounced, in general like their English equivalents; but gamma before κ, γ, χ, or ξ equals (sounds like) the ng in sing, and is called gamma nasal.

S11. The Dipthongs are αι, αυ, ει, ευ, οι, ου, ηυ, υι, ᾳ, ῃ, ῳ. The last three, formed by writing ι under α, η, ω, are called improper diphthongs. Their second vowel is called iota subscript.
Addendum: The diphthongs are considered long. However, οι and αι are generally considered short when determining where to place the accent. The main exception is that in the optative mood, the ending οι is considered long.
Give the phonetic value for each letter in the alphabet.

S12. The diphthongs are pronounced:

αι as in aisle

αυ as ou in hour

ει as in eight

υι as in quit

οι as in oil

ου as in group

ευ as ĕh-oo *

ηυ as ĕh-oo *

* For these there is no exact equivalents in English.

ᾳ, ῃ, ῳ, as ᾱ, η, ω.

S13. Give the name of each letter, and the phonetic value of each single vowel, consonant, and diphthong in the following words:

ἡμέρα, day
σκηνή, tent
ἄνθρωπος, man
βουλεύει, he plans
ὁπλίτης, hoplite
ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ, in the country
ὑιός, son
λόγοι, speeches
ᾤκησα, I dwelt
ὧδε, thus
θύρα, door
ἐν σκηνῇ, in a tent
ἄγετε, yous* lead
ἅμαξα, wagon
ἁρπάζω, I plunder
φοβερός, frightful
αὐτός, self, Latin ipse
ἐν λόγῳ, in a speech
Ἑλληνικός, Greek
ἀγαθός, good
θύραι, doors
λύουσι, they loose
ἄγγελος, messenger
δῶρον, gift
χώρα, country
ψέλιον, bracelet
λόγος, speech
οἰκέω, I dwell
Ἄρτεμις, Artemis
οἴκοι, at home

* In certain regional forms of English, the word yous as opposed to you is used denoting the second person plural. This usage, while it may be slightly improper, it is very useful for distinguishing between the second person singular and the second person plural.


End Of Chapter


Chapter 2