Greek Alphabet Pronunciation
The 7 Greek Vowels
The ancient Greek grammarians believed the seven vowels contained pnuema (spirit) or the "breath of life" because the sound of each vowel could be sustained as long as one had breath in his lungs. There are three types of vowels: long (H and W), dual (A, I, and Y), and short (E and O). In the Book of Revelation, there is some evidence that the seven Greek vowels were viewed as the "Seven Spirits of God."
The Seven Greek Diphthongs
A diphthong is two vowels that combine to make a single sound. The second vowel of a diphthong is always an iota (i) or an upsilon (u). In all other vowel combinations, the vowels are pronounced separately.
The 8 Semi-Vowel Consonants
The semi vowels are divided into two groups, single and double sound consonants. These letters have properties like the vowels because their sound can be sustained by a hum, purr, or a hiss. Virtually every single Greek word ends with a vowel or the following five pure-sound, semi-vowel consonants.
the 5 pure semi-vowel consonants
the 3 semi-vowel double consonants
Some Greek words end with a x (ks) or a y (ps) but since the final sound in these double consonants is an "s" the final letter is still considered to be an "s."
The 9 Mute Consonants
These letters are classified as mute because they can only be uttered for an instant ... their sound can not be sustained. They are divided into three subgroups. The aspirates Q, F, and X contain a small amount of breath or spirit because they possess the "h" sound (th, ph, ch). The intermediates B, G, and D have even less spirit because the "a" sound they emit lasts for just an instant. The inaspirates K, P, and T have no spirit at all because the sound of these letters have no vowel to help them "speak" ... only a short, explosive, mute burst of air. Some foreign proper names (like Gog and Magog) end in mute consonants.
Greek Breathing Marks
Any Greek word that begins with a vowel is always accompanied by a little raised comma called a breathing mark. If the tail of the comma is to the right, the vowel is pronounced with an h-sound, which is called a rough breathing. If the tail is to the left, there is no h-sound, which is called a smooth breathing.
Example: The Greek word for sin (harmatia) is pronounced "har-ma-tee-a"
Rule of Thumb Pronunciation Guide
To pronounce a Greek word,
Problems of Greek-English Transliteration
The decision of how to spell a foreign word in English so that it's native pronunciation is preserved is called transliteration. This is very difficult to do in English because English text does not produce phonetic results. For example, the letters in the words grove, move, and love all end with "ove," but the pronunciation of each word is very different. A lot of double vowels and dashes have to be used in order to approximate the sound of a Greek word. The internet involves even more complications because people do not have adequate Greek fonts installed on their browsers and operating systems.
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