© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.

org
The Greek Alphabet
Sight and Sounds of the Greek Letters (Module A)
The Letters and Pronunciation of the Greek Alphabet
Phonology (Part 1)



Lesson One Overview
§1.0 Introduction, 1
§1.1 The Greek Alphabet, 6
§1.2 The Greek Small Letters, 16
§1.3 The Greek Capital Letters, 18
§1.4 The Greek Alphabet Charted, 19
§1.5 Further Information, 20
Study Guide, 22

§1.0 Introduction

As might be expected, the Greek alphabet is introduced first. The Greek alphabet
has twenty-four letters. Each letter is represented by both a small and capital
letter. The difference between the small and capital letters is no different from the
small and capital letters in English. Seven alphabetical letters are vowels, and the
remaining letters consonants. It is vital to learn the
names of these letters, the form of both the small and
capital letters, and the proper pronunciation of each. This
will not be as difficult as expected, since many English
and Greek alphabetical characters are very similar.

The forming and pronunciation of the twenty-four Greek
letters are introduced in this lesson. Mastering the sight
and sounds of the alphabet will lay the cornerstone for
learning the sight and sounds of Greek words in all
subsequent lessons. The first and single most important step in learning Greek is
to memorize the sight and sounds of the alphabet. Those who do not thoroughly
learn the Greek alphabet are sowing the seed for future failure.

Before introducing the Greek letters, a few preliminary comments are necessary
about the different types of Greek letters, their phonemic pronunciation, the Greek
typeface used in this course, and its deployment on the Internet.


1
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Sight and Sounds of the Greek Letters (Module A)
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.01 The types of Greek letters in the alphabet. As with the English alphabet,
two major types of speech sounds constitute the Greek alphabet. The open
sounds with “free” breath are called vowel letters. The closed sounds with
restricted breath are called consonant letters.

When one says “ah” for the doctor, an open
sound is made with free passage of breath.
The sound may be made as long as there is
breath. This sound is a vowel, as are all the
other open and freely breathed sounds in speech. The various vowel sounds are
enunciated by modification of the shape of the oral chamber, and by movements
of the tongue and lips. There are seven vowel letters in the Greek alphabet.

The open quality of vowels distinguishes them from another type of letter, the
consonant. Simply stated, a consonant is any single letter that is not a vowel.
The consonant letters are pronounced with the breath totally or partly blocked.
This hindering of sound is done by the tongue, teeth, or lips. There are seventeen
consonant letters in the Greek alphabet.

§1.02 The Greek alphabetical letters and sounds. A sound sufficiently distinct
from other sounds as to differentiate meaning is a phoneme. Each phoneme is
represented in writing by a unique alphabetical letter. For example, the words
“pat” and “bat” have different meanings;
this indicates in English the two letters,
“p” and “b” are separate phonemes.
Although the forming of these two letters
by the lips is identical, the vocal cords are
used with “b” and not with “p”.

A word’s phonetic pronunciation is produced by the quick succession of its
individual letter phonemes. In “bat”, the combined phonemic sound of each
alphabetical letter (“b” + “a” + “t”) yields the word’s total phonetic sound. However,
only context determines the meaning of the word (“bat” as a stout wooden stick or
club; “bat” as a nocturnal flying mammal; or “bat” as to move the eyelids quickly).

This lesson introduces both the phoneme of each Greek alphabetical character, as
well as the pronunciation of each Greek alphabetical letter.

§1.03 The phonemic system used in this course. The Greek letter sounds for
this course are designed to provide a practical and consistent system of
pronunciation. No authoritative source exists in determining how Greek was
pronounced during New Testament times. However, as an aid to vocabulary
The Greek alphabet contains
seven distinct vowels and
seventeen consonants.
The term “phoneme” is pronounced
as f nm. The twenty-four Greek
alphabetical characters represent
twenty-four different phonemes.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
memorization, the Erasmian standardized system of pronunciation has been
adopted that is widely used in universities, Bible colleges, seminaries, and in
numerous modern New Testament Greek grammars.

Three major approaches are available for learning the
pronunciation of New Testament Greek. It would seem
natural to learn the standardized pronunciation used today
in Greece. However, unless Greek is spoken on a daily
basis, a serious draw back exists. Several different
phonemes have identical sounds, and some phonemes
have multiple sounds, causing confusion between how a
word is spoken and actually written. This is no different in
English where the letter “c” may sound very different, such
as the “c” in “cat”, “circle”, or “cube”, or the difference in
meaning between the two words, “cubical” and “cubicle”, being pronounced
identically. The native speaker knows the difference because they are absorbed
in the language—very different from a non-native learning to read the Greek New
Testament. Furthermore, as with all languages, the pronunciation used in Modern
Greek has evolved over the years. Therefore, Modern Greek is not necessarily a
proper reflection how Greek was spoken during the New Testament Era, as
English spoken today is to Elizabethan English.

A second approach to pronunciation is to learn “reconstructed New Testament
Greek”. Scholars, primarily in the last century, have reconstructed what is
believed to be the actual pronunciation of Greek during the New Testament Era
based upon linguistic guidelines. Even so, with the variety of Greek dialects
spoken during that era because of geographical isolation, there was divergence
primarily with certain vowels sounds. This is also true how English is spoken
differently today in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States.

The final pronunciation approach is the Erasmian system. Desiderius Erasmus
was a Renaissance Latin and Greek scholar who developed a system for non-
native speakers to learn Greek easily. His system diverged from how Greek was
spoken during his day in that he assigned different phonemes to the vowels and
consonants, differentiating them when spoken. His method greatly enhanced a
copyist to duplicate accurately the Greek New Testament. In addition, his
approach allowed non-natives to learn to read rapidly the Greek New Testament.

Erasmus’ pronunciation gained a foothold in 1588 A.D. when two British
professors at Cambridge began to use his method in their Greek classes. The
classes were such a success that the approach spread rapidly to other schools,
including Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries, both in Great Britain and
Desiderius Erasmus
1466 A.D.?-1539 A.D.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
eventually the United States. Erasmus’ pronunciation method proliferated when
many New Testament Greek professors also used his pronunciation in their
grammars. It was not until the middle of 1800 A.D., however, that the terms,
“Erasmic Greek” or “Erasmian Greek” became commonplace and denoted the
pronunciation method set forth by Erasmus.

Erasmian Greek is not how Modern Greek is pronounced, nor how Greek was
pronounced during the New Testament Era; it is somewhere in between the two.
It is a practical method for non-native Greek speakers to learn quickly a consistent
system of pronunciation. Even if a non-native attempts to learn Modern Greek
pronunciation, they will never be able to reproduce the phonemic sounds as a
native without living in the country and speaking the language for many years.

The Erasmian approach is a viable alternative to Modern Greek pronunciation for
several reasons. First, the beginner quickly learns to differentiate between the
seven vowel and seventeen consonant sounds, as well as the binary diphthong
vowel sounds. This leads to rapid learning of Greek vocabulary, and eventual
reading of the Greek New Testament. Second, most institutions outside of Greece
teach New Testament Greek using the Erasmian pronunciation method. Unless
one plans to move to Greece and speak the language, Modern Greek
pronunciation in the end is disadvantageous for those who plan to read only the
Greek New Testament and communicate to those who learned Erasmian Greek—
who are in the majority. Finally, after learning New Testament Greek vocabulary
using the Erasmian pronunciation, one can attempt to learn Modern Greek
pronunciation, thereby not being initially confused with identical Modern Greek
phonemic sounds.

If Erasmian Greek pronunciation is so good to learn Greek, why did not Greece
eventually adopt it? Whereas Erasmian Greek is a wonderful learning tool, it is
caustic to the ear when compared to Modern Greek lyrical sounds. If one
compares the seemingly musical sounds of Modern Greek, Erasmian Greek
sounds barbaric—even intolerable to the native speaker! However, most non-
native students are not interested investing the time to achieve these lyrical
sounds; they are more interested in being able to read the Greek New Testament,
and as rapidly as possible.

With the foregoing rationale set forth for using the Erasmian Greek pronunciation,
let us move on to another matter: the Greek font used in this course.



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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.04 The Greek font used in this course. The Greek SPIonic font has been
chosen for this grammar for several reasons. First, the SPIonic font is compatible for
both the Macintosh
©
and Windows
©
platforms, utilizing the same character and keyboard
maps. The font is also designed to follow the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae encoding
scheme. Second, it is a public domain font, meaning that the font may be
downloaded and used without copyright restrictions. Finally, the SPIonic font is an
easy to read typeface similarly found in modern printed texts of the Greek New
Testament, a Greek typeface dating from the middle ages.

Unless the SPIonic font has been downloaded and installed in the font folder of
your computer, the Greek characters will not be displayed or print properly.
Instructions how to install the SPIonic font may be found here. If the font in the
right-hand column below appears similar as the graphic image in the left-hand
column, the SPIonic font is already installed in your font folder. No further action
is necessary to view and print the course materials.

Graphic SPIonic Font SPIonic Font

Ev opyn nv o ioyo·

§1.05 Course deployment on the Internet. All course lessons are offered in Adobe
Acrobat format. The Adobe Acrobat Reader
©
software is free and allows all major
computer platforms to view and print the lesson materials. If you wish to listen to
the lessons' accompanying MP3 audio files (highly recommended), a MP3 player
is required. If you do not have a MP3 player, you may download without cost
RealPlayer
©
, Winamp
©
, or the Microsoft MediaPlayer
©
.

All materials for this New Testament Greek course are distributed on the World
Wide Web from InTheBeginning.org web site and are copyrighted by the author.
However, they may be freely distributed without prior permission from Dr. William
D. Ramey, if two conditions are met: (1) the material in the lessons is not altered in
any manner, including the copyright at the bottom of the page remains intact; and
(2) the transmission and distribution of all course materials are done without cost.

Finally, NTGreek forum is available for students with a special question or need
concerning the course work. Please post the question or comment under the
respective lesson. You will need to join the board in order to post, but not to read
what others have posted.

We are now ready to begin one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime:
the study of the New Testament in its original language.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.1 The Greek Alphabet

The approach in learning the Greek alphabet will be by first seeing, then correctly
pronouncing, and finally writing the individual capital and small letters in their
alphabetical order. Memorizing them in this
order from the beginning will prove helpful later
when using a Greek-English lexicon. A lexicon
is more than a dictionary, for it also cites actual
usages of a word within a document(s).

The suggested procedure for learning the
alphabet is straightforward. Use the provided practice Greek alphabet practice
pages on pages twenty-two thru twenty-six. Proper penmanship in forming the
Greek letters is an essential step in learning Greek. Possible confusion between
Greek letters is avoided from the start if bad habits are not learned!

Next, use the animated on-line tutorial link provided below each Greek
alphabetical letter both to see how to form properly the character and to hear its
phoneme and letter is pronounced. On your practice sheets, practice writing both
the capital and small Greek letters while listening to the letter’s pronunciation.

As you listen to how an alphabetical character is pronounced, remember that the
pronunciation of a letter’s phoneme is learned by proper pronunciation of its
alphabetical name. For example, the second letter in the Greek alphabet is þ þþ þ, and
þ þþ þ is pronounced as the first letter in its alphabetical name, þ þþ þn¬o n¬o n¬o n¬o (bta).
Therefore, knowing how to pronounce the character’s alphabetical name is to
know how to pronounce the Greek letter’s phoneme. This is also true for all the
remaining letters in the alphabet. A Greek
letter’s phoneme has the same pronunciation
as does the opening sound of its alphabetical
letter’s name.

As stated before, the twenty-four letters of the
Greek alphabet are divided into two types:
seven are vowels and the remaining seventeen are consonants. Their order,
beginning on page eight, does not reflect these separate categories, but rather
their alphabetical sequence.

Moreover, each of the twenty-four Greek letters is represented by two forms. The
first letter illustrates the capital letter (or upper case), and then its corresponding
small letter (or lower case) follows. The capital letters should be studied along
Remember, the first and single
most important step in learning
Greek is to memorize the sight
and sounds of the alphabet.
A Greek letter’s phoneme has
the same pronunciation as
does the opening sound of its
alphabetical letter’s name.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
with their matching small letters. The letters should be pronounced aloud several
times while practicing writing them. The human eye must not carry the entire
burden of learning and memorizing the alphabetical order of the Greek alphabet.

The arrow accompanying each case letter indicates the starting point and direction
of flow when forming a Greek character. Greek is read from left to right like
English. Therefore, if possible, a Greek letter should be written so that the final
stroke ends to the furthest right where the next letter’s stroke begins.

The Greek names for the lower case letters are spelled on the following pages
with accompanying accents and breathing marks. Whereas these are for future
reference, for the time being, these accents and breathing marks may be
disregarded. You will learn these in Lesson Five.







1
st
letter | Alpha A/1A A/1A A/1A A/1A. oi¢o oi¢o oi¢o oi¢o [variable—voiced] vowel

o oo o
< ahl – fah >

Hear and See

1. Alpha is a variable vowel. Its phoneme may be
long or short. If long, the phoneme is as a in
“father”; if short, as a in “dad”. The vowel is never
pronounced like the long a in English (i.e., “age”).

2. The lower case letter should be written as a figure
“8” laid on its side and opened on the right.

3. A. o is transliterated as “A”, “a” into English.









Alphabetical Order
English Spelling
Greek Upper Case Spelling
Greek Lower Case Spelling
Classification Information
Helpful Information
Relative Size Reference
Pronunciation Guide
On-Line Pronunciation and Formation Aids
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 8
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
1
st
letter | Alpha A/1A A/1A A/1A A/1A. oi¢o oi¢o oi¢o oi¢o [variable—voiced] vowel

o oo o
< ahl – fah >

Hear and See

1. Alpha is a variable vowel. Its phoneme may be
long or short. If long, the phoneme is as a in
“father”; if short, as a in “dad”. The vowel is never
pronounced like the long a in English (i.e., “age”).

2. The lower case letter should be written as a figure
“8” laid on its side and opened on the right.

3. A. o is transliterated as “A”, “a” into English.

2
nd
letter | Bta HH]A HH]A HH]A HH]A. þn¬o þn¬o þn¬o þn¬o [labial—voiced] consonant


< bay – tah >

Hear and See

1. Bta is a labial consonant. Its phoneme is
pronounced by the closure of the lips and the vocal
cords vibrate when pronouncing the phoneme. Its
phoneme is as the b in “ball”. more

2. The upper case letter is identical to its English
counterpart. The lower case letter looks similar to
its upper case letter, except that it has a tail
dropping below the base line. Begin the letter with
an upward stroke below the line.

3. H. þ is transliterated as “B”, “b” into English.

3
rd
letter | Gamma lAMMA lAMMA lAMMA lAMMA. yo yo yo yo µµo µµo µµo µµo [palatal—voiced] consonant

y yy y
< gahm – ma >

Hear and See

1. Gamma is a palatal consonant, formed in the back
of the throat by the closure of the tongue against
the soft palate. Vocal cords vibrate. Its phoneme is
as the g in “got”—never as the g in “gin”. more

2. The lower case letter’s “tail” drops below the base
line. The lower and upper case letters look very
different from each other.

3. l. y is transliterated as “G”, “g” into English.
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 9
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
4
th
letter | Delta LE/]A LE/]A LE/]A LE/]A. öti¬o öti¬o öti¬o öti¬o [dental—voiced] consonant


< dell – tah >

Hear and See

1. Delta is a dental consonant, formed with the tip of
the tongue behind the upper teeth. The vocal
cords vibrate. Its phoneme is as the d in “dog”.
more

2. The lower and upper case letters look very
different. Both case letters may be completed in a
single stroke.

3. L. ö is transliterated as “D”, “d” into English.


5
th
letter | Epslon E1I/ON E1I/ON E1I/ON E1I/ON. t ¢iiov t ¢iiov t ¢iiov t ¢iiov [short—voiced] vowel; long ita

t tt t
< eh – pseeh – lawn >

Hear and See

1. Eps( lon is a short vowel. It is always
pronounced short. Its phoneme is as the e in
“net”. The vowel is always short and is never
pronounced like the English long e as in “equal”.
Its corresponding long phoneme is ta (HTA).

2. Be sure to differentiate between the lower case
English “e” and the Greek “t” when written.

3. E. t is transliterated as “E”, “e” into English.


6
th
letter | Zta ZH]A ZH]A ZH]A ZH]A. Cn¬o Cn¬o Cn¬o Cn¬o [compound—continuant] consonant


< zay – tah >

Hear and See

1. Zta is a compound consonant. Its phoneme is a
combination of ö + [unvoiced] o, or ö + [voiced] o.
Respectively, its initial phoneme is as the z in
“gaze”, and its medial phoneme as dz in “adz”.

2. The lower and upper case letters look different. The
small letter’s “tail” curls and drops below the base line.

3. Z. C is transliterated as “Z”, “z” into English.

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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

7
th
letter | ta H]A H]A H]A H]A. n¬o n¬o n¬o n¬o [long—voiced] vowel

n nn n
< ay – tah >

Hear and See

1. *ta is a long vowel. It is always pronounced long.
Its phoneme is as a in “gate” or e in “obey”. Its
corresponding short phoneme is eps(lon.

2. The lower case letter looks like an English “n”.
However, it is pronounced very differently! The
stroke ends below the base line.

3. H. n is transliterated as “P”, “Q” into English.
Always employ the macron mark above ta to
differentiate it from the short vowel eps(lon.

8
th
letter | Thta O OO OH]A H]A H]A H]A. ûn¬o . ûn¬o . ûn¬o . ûn¬o [dental—aspirate] consonant


< thay – tah >

Hear and See

1. Thta is a dental consonant, formed with the tip of
the tongue behind the upper teeth, with its sound
accompanied with a strong emission of breath. Its
phoneme is as the th in “thing”—never as th in
“this”. more

2. The lower case letter may be written without lifting
the pen.

3. O. û is transliterated by two consonants into
English, “Th”, “th”.

9
th
letter | Ita I1]A I1]A I1]A I1]A. io¬o io¬o io¬o io¬o [variable—voiced] vowel

i ii i
< yi – oh - tah >

Hear and See

1. Ita is a variable vowel. Its phoneme may be
pronounced long or short. If long, the phoneme is
as i in “machine”; if short, as i in “hit”. Ita is never
pronounced like the English long “i” (i.e., “kite”).

2. The lower case letter is never dotted as the
English “i”.

3. I. i is transliterated as “I”, “i” into English.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

10
th
letter | Kappa K KK KAHHA AHHA AHHA AHHA. |o ¬¬o |o ¬¬o |o ¬¬o |o ¬¬o [palatal—unvoiced] consonant

| || |
< kap – pah >

Hear and See

1. Kappa is a palatal consonant, formed in the back
of the throat by the closure of the tongue against
the soft palate. The vocal cords do not vibrate. Its
phoneme is as the k in “kin”. more

2. Both case letters are formed like their English
counterparts.

3. K. | is transliterated as “K”, “k” into English.

11
th
letter | Lambda / // /AMHLA AMHLA AMHLA AMHLA. ioµþöo ioµþöo ioµþöo ioµþöo [liquid—continuant] consonant


< lahm – dah >

Hear and See

1. Lambda is a liquid consonant. Air is allowed to
pass through the oral cavity while its phoneme is
pronounced. Its phoneme is as the l in “lot”. more

2. The lower case letter has a hook at the top that
slants to the left. The upper case letter looks like
delta, except that there is not a base line stroke.

3. /. i is transliterated as “L”, “l” into English.

12
th
letter | M M( M( M( M(. µu µu µu µu [nasal labial—voiced continuant] consonant

µ µµ µ
< mew >

Hear and See

1. M/ is a nasal labial consonant. Its phoneme is
formed by the rounding of the lips, with most of
the sound allowed to pass through the nasal
cavity instead of the mouth. The vocal cords
vibrate. Its phoneme is as the m in “man”. more

2. The lower and upper case letters look different.
The lower case letter has a tail. Sufficient tail
helps distinguish it from ups(lon.

3. M. µ is transliterated as “M”, “m” into English.


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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

13
th
letter | N N( N( N( N(. vu vu vu vu [nasal dental—voiced continuant] consonant

v vv v
< new >

Hear and See

1. N/ is a nasal dental continuant consonant. The
tongue is pressed against the alveolar ridge with
its sound forced up through the nasal cavity while
the air is not complete stopped. The vocal cords
vibrate. Its phoneme is as the n in “new”. more

2. The lower case letter must not be confused with
the English letter “v”. N/ and ups(lon are often
confused. Write n/ pointed at the bottom and turn
the right upward stroke inward at the top.

3. N. v is transliterated as “N”, “n” into English.

14
th
letter | Xs : :: :I II I. Ei Ei Ei Ei [compound—unvoiced continuant] consonant


< x – see >

Hear and See

1. Xs( is a compound consonant. Its phoneme is a
combination of | + [unvoiced] o. Its phoneme is
approximate to x in “axe” or in “six”. more

2. The lower and upper case letters are very different.
The lower case letter is distinctive with a curl stroke
at the top and bottom.

3. :. E is transliterated “Xs”, “xs” or “X”, “x” in English.

15
th
letter | Omkron O OO OMIKPON MIKPON MIKPON MIKPON. o µi|po v o µi|po v o µi|po v o µi|po v [short—voiced] vowel

o
< au – me – krahn >

Hear and See

1. Om(kron is a short vowel. It is always pronounced
short. Its phoneme is as the o in “pot”. The
corresponding long phoneme is mega.

2. Both case letters are written like their English
counterparts. The alphabetical character’s name
may be spelled as om(kron or om(cron.

3. O. o is transliterated into English as “O”, “o”.
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

16
th
letter | P H HH HI II I, ¬i ¬i ¬i ¬i [labial—unvoiced] consonant

¬ ¬¬ ¬
< pee >

Hear and See

1. P( is a labial consonant. The phoneme is formed by
the closing the lips. The vocal cords do not vibrate.
Its phoneme is as the p in “party”. more

2. Both lower and upper case letters are written with
three strokes. The two support strokes may be
written first, with the “shelf” stroke last.

3. H. ¬ is transliterated as “P”,“p” into English.

17
th
letter | Rh P1 P1 P1 P1. po po po po [liquid—continuant] consonant

p pp p
< hrow >

Hear and See

1. Rh is a liquid consonant. Air is allowed to pass
through the oral cavity while its phoneme is
pronounced. Its phoneme is as the r in “red”.
Whenever rh begins a word, it is aspirated. As
the spelling of its name indicates (rh), a flow of
breath accompanies the letter. more

2. The lower case letter has a tail that drops below
the base line. Be careful! Do not confuse this
letter with the English “p”.

3. P. p is transliterated into English as “R”, “r”.

18
th
letter | Sigma 2IlMA 2IlMA 2IlMA 2IlMA. oiyµo oiyµo oiyµo oiyµo [sibilant—continuant] consonant

o oo o
< sig – mah >

Hear and See

1. Sigma is the only pure sibilant consonant. Its
phoneme (unvoiced) is as the s in
“sit” or as “is” (voiced). more

2. When sigma occurs as the final
letter in a word, it is written as ·,
otherwise, lower case is o (i.e.,
otioµo·). Final sigma is a convention of printing
and is not found in any ancient manuscripts.

3. 2. o. · is transliterated into English as “S”, “s”.
·
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
19
th
letter | Tau ] ]] ]A( A( A( A(. ¬ou ¬ou ¬ou ¬ou [dental—unvoiced] consonant

¬ ¬¬ ¬
< tau >

Hear and See

1. Tau is a dental consonant, formed with the tip of
the tongue behind the upper teeth. Its phoneme is
as the t in “talk”. more

2. The lower case letter never has the top stroke
below its top like the English “t”.

3. ]. ¬ is transliterated into English as “T”, “t”.

20
th
letter | Upslon ( (( (1I/ON 1I/ON 1I/ON 1I/ON. u . u . u . u ¢iiov ¢iiov ¢iiov ¢iiov [variable—voiced] vowel

u uu u
< ew – pseeh - lawn >

Hear and See

1. Ups(lon is a variable vowel. Its phoneme may be
pronounced long or short. If long, the phoneme is
as the u in “lute”; if short u as in “put”. The
phoneme is never pronounced as the English long
“u” (i.e., “use”).

2. Ups(lon and n/ may be confused when written.
Form ups(lon with a rounded bottom with the right
upward stroke turned outward.

3. (. u is transliterated into English as “Y”, “y”, or as
“U”, “u” when o, t, n, or o precede ups(lon.

21
st
letter | Ph 1I 1I 1I 1I. ¢i ¢i ¢i ¢i [labial—aspirate] consonant

¢ ¢¢ ¢
< fee >

Hear and See

1. Ph( is a labial aspirate consonant. Its phoneme is
pronounced by the near closing of the lips and an
emission of breath. Its phoneme is as the ph in
“phone” or the f as in “fat”. more

2. The lower case letter’s tail extends below the base
line. The letter is often written as one stroke.

3. 1. ¢ is transliterated by two consonants into
English, “Ph”, “ph”.
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 15
Sight and Sounds of the Greek Letters (Module A)
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
22
nd
letter | Ch XI XI XI XI. yi yi yi yi [palatal—aspirate] consonant

y yy y
< khey >

Hear and See

1. Ch( is a palatal aspirate consonant. It is formed in
the throat by the closure of the tongue against the
soft palate while allowing air to pass. Its phoneme
is as the ch in “chemist”, or the k in “kiosk”. The
phoneme may be easily confused with kappa
unless it is remembered that the breath is not
entirely cut off with ch(. more

2. X. y is transliterated by two consonants into
English, “Ch”, “ch”.

23
rd
letter | Ps 1I 1I 1I 1I. ¢i . ¢i . ¢i . ¢i [compound—unvoiced continuant] consonant

¢ ¢¢ ¢
< psee >

Hear and See

1. Ps( is a compound consonant. The phoneme is a
combination of ¬ + [unvoiced] o. Initial phoneme
is as the ps in “psalms”, and its medial or final
phoneme is as the ps in “lips” or “taps”. more

2. The lower case letter’s stem drops below the base
line.

3. 1. ¢ is transliterated by two consonants into
English, “Ps”, “ps”.

24
th
letter | .mega 1MElA 1MElA 1MElA 1MElA. oµtyo oµtyo oµtyo oµtyo [long—voiced] vowel

o oo o
< oh – may – gah >

Hear and See

1. 6mega is a long vowel. Its phoneme is always
pronounced long. Phoneme is as o in “note”.

2. Do not confuse the lower case letter with the
English “w”.

2. 1. o is transliterated as “T”, “U” into English.
Always employ the macron mark above mega to
differentiate it from the short vowel om(kron.


LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 16
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.1.1 Memorizing the Greek alphabet. Many similarities exist between the
Greek and English alphabetical letters. These similarities are in form and sound
(phoneme). The Greek alphabetical order parallels the English for a while, then
differs, and then begins to parallel again. It is recommended that the Greek
alphabet be memorized in five groups of letters, each beginning with a familiar
looking English corresponding vowel: o oo o (alpha), t tt t (eps(lon), i ii i (ita), o oo o (om(kron),
and u uu u (ups(lon). These suggested groupings follow. Listen

A AA Ao oo o Hþ Hþ Hþ Hþ l ll ly yy y Lö Lö Lö Lö
E EE Et tt t ZC ZC ZC ZC H HH Hn nn n Oû Oû Oû Oû
I II Ii ii i K KK K| || | /i /i /i /i M MM Mµ µµ µ N NN Nv vv v :E :E :E :E
O OO Oo oo o H HH H¬ ¬¬ ¬ P PP Pp pp p 2 22 2o oo o· ·· · ] ]] ]¬ ¬¬ ¬
( (( (u uu u 1 11 1¢ ¢¢ ¢ X XX Xy yy y 1 11 1¢ ¢¢ ¢ 1 11 1o oo o


§1.2 The Greek Small Letters

§1.2.1 Eleven of the Greek lower case letters do not extend below the line, and
are approximately as wide as they are high. The height of these lower case letters
are one-half of the height of their corresponding upper case letters. Listen

o oo o
1
t i t i t i t i
2
| v | v | v | v
3,4
o o o o


5
¬ o ¬ o ¬ o ¬ o
5
¬ u ¬ u ¬ u ¬ u
3
o oo o

1. o (alpha) should be written as a figure 8 laid on its side and opened on
the right, and not as the English “a”.
2. The i (ita) is never dotted.
3. The letters v (n/) and u (ups(lon) are easily confused. Write v pointed at
the bottom and turn the right upward stroke outward at the top; u is
written rounded at the bottom with the right straight upward stroke.
4. N. v (n/) should not be confused with the English “v”. The English “v”
has no Greek counterpart. Furthermore, never say “n” for v.
5. There is another pair of letters other than v and u which may be confused
except for a small, but a very important difference: om(kron (o) and
sigma (o). Notice that sigma wears a "hat" whereas om(kron does not.
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 17
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.2.2 Eight Greek lower case letters rest on the line and extend below it, and are
as high as those in §1.2.1. None of their corresponding upper case letters drop
below the line. Listen

y yy y
1
n n n n
2
µ µ µ µ
3
p p p p
4
· · · ·
2,5
y y y y
1
¢ ¢ ¢ ¢
6
¢ ¢ ¢ ¢
6


1. Both y (gamma) and y (ch() may be written crossing the line.
2. n (ta) and · (final sigma) are not usually made to extend as far below
the line as the others in this group do.
3. A sufficient stem on µ (m/) distinguishes it from u (ups(lon). Notice
these distinctions in the following word pairs: |ooµou |ooµov.
¬u¬ou ¬u¬ov.
4. P, p (rh) must not be confused with “P/p” in English, nor o (mega) with
the English “w”.
5. There is one sigma with two forms. It is written o at the beginning or in
the middle of a word, and · at the end. Examples: oo·. vooo·. otioµo·.
6. The stems of ¢ (ph() and ¢ (ps() extend above the middle line.

§1.2.3 Three of the Greek lower case letters rest on the line, but are twice as high
as in §1.2.1 above. These letters are delta, thta, and lambda. These lower case
letters’ height corresponds to their upper case letters. Listen

ö û i ö û i ö û i ö û i
§1.2.4 Three of the lower case letters extend above and below the line. These
letters are bta, zta, and xsX. Listen

þ C E þ C E þ C E þ C E

Below are all of the lower case letters in their alphabetical order. This may prove
helpful, because it illustrates their respective height when written together.

Listen o þ y ö t C n û i | i µ v o þ y ö t C n û i | i µ v o þ y ö t C n û i | i µ v o þ y ö t C n û i | i µ v E o ¬ p o ¬ u ¢ y ¢ o E o ¬ p o ¬ u ¢ y ¢ o E o ¬ p o ¬ u ¢ y ¢ o E o ¬ p o ¬ u ¢ y ¢ o



Final Sigma
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 18
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.3 The Greek Capital Letters

All of the capital letters are of uniform height and rest on the base line. They
should be learned in conjunction with their corresponding small letters.

When practicing, aim at simplicity, clarity, and ease of recognition. Use the
animated examples on-line or those given below to learn how to form the
characters. Every student will develop their own writing style, and slight variations
from the printed forms below will not generally cause confusion.

A H l L E Z H O I A H l L E Z H O I A H l L E Z H O I A H l L E Z H O I

K / M N : O H K / M N : O H K / M N : O H K / M N : O H

P 2 ] ( 1 X 1 1 P 2 ] ( 1 X 1 1 P 2 ] ( 1 X 1 1 P 2 ] ( 1 X 1 1
§1.3.1 Nine capital letters do not correspond to their small letters. These capital
letters are l ll l. L LL L. Z ZZ Z. H HH H. / // /. : :: :. 2 22 2. ( (( ( and 1 11 1. Special attention to these upper case
letters are required in order to associate them with their lower case letters.

l ll ly yy y Lö Lö Lö Lö ZC ZC ZC ZC H HH Hn nn n /i /i /i /i

:E 2 :E 2 :E 2 :E 2o oo o· ·· · ( ( ( (u uu u 1 11 1o oo o
The chart in the next section summarizes and highlights what has been presented
thus far for all the Greek letters, which will be helpful as a review. The
alphabetical letter names of the three variable vowels, alpha, ita, and ups(lon
should be pronounced long when reciting the alphabet.

LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 19
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
§1.4 The Greek Alphabet Charted

The capital and small letters appear in the first column, with their Greek and
English spellings in the second and third columns, respectively. Breathing marks
and accents have been included where appropriate (these will be introduced in
Lesson Five). The fourth column gives an English approximate pronunciation of
the Greek letter, and its phonetic value in the fifth column. The sixth column
illustrates the English equivalent (transliteration) to the Greek letter.

Letter Greek English Sounds As Phonetic Trsl.
A A A A o oo o oi¢o YlphY ahl-fah
a in father (long)
a in dad (short)
a
H HH H þ þþ þ þn¬o bQtY bay-tah b in ball b
l ll l y yy y yoµµo gYmmY gahm-mah g in got g
L LL L ö öö ö öt i¬o dZltY dell-tah d in dog d
E EE E t tt t t ¢iiov ZpsXl[n eh-pseeh-lawn e in net e
Z ZZ Z C CC C Cn¬o zQtY zah-tah
dz in adz (initial)
z in gaze (medial)
z
H HH H n nn n n¬o QtY ay-tah e in obey >
O OO O û ûû û ûn¬o thQtY thay-tah th in this th
I II I i ii i io¬o iUtY yi-oh-tah
i in machine (long)
i in hit (short)
i
K KK K | || | |o¬¬o k\ppY kap-pah k in kin k
/ // / i ii i ioµþöo lYmbdY lahm-dah l in lot l
M MM M µ µµ µ µu m] mew m in man m
N NN N v vv v vu n] new n in new n
: :: : E EE E Ei xsX x-see x in axe x
O OO O o oo o o µi|pov ^mXkron au-me-krahn ough in ought o
H HH H ¬ ¬¬ ¬ ¬i pX peeh p in party p
P PP P p pp p po rhU hrow
r in ride
rh in rhino (aspirate)
r
2 22 2 o oo o · ·· · oi yµo s_gmY sig-mah
s in sit (unvoiced)
s in is (voiced)
s
] ]] ] ¬ ¬¬ ¬ ¬ou tau tau t in talk t
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 20
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

Letter Greek English Sounds As Phonetic Trsl.
( (( ( u uu u u ¢iio v ]psXlon ew-pseeh-lawn
u in lute (long)
u in put (short
y, u
1 11 1 ¢ ¢¢ ¢ ¢i phX fee ph in phone ph
X XX X y yy y yi chX khey ch in chemist ch
1 11 1 ¢ ¢¢ ¢ ¢i psX psee
ps in psalm (initial)
ps in lips (medial)
ps
1 11 1 o oo o o µtyo U m`gY oh-may-gah o in note @

§1.5 Further Information

The word alphabet (oi¢oþn¬o from oi¢o + þn¬o) is derived from the first two
letters of the twenty-four Greek letters commonly used by the Greeks. The
consonants employed in the Greek alphabet are for the most part adapted from
the Phoenician alphabet.

Originally the Greek alphabet had several other letters, but they dropped out of
use before the New Testament era. However, their continued influence is still felt,
especially in Greek verbs. In addition, the Greeks added five other letters that
were not part of the Phoenician alphabet (u. ¢. y. ¢ and o, which are the last five
letters of the Greek alphabet).

The Greek alphabetical letters did double duty, serving also as numbers. For
example, First John was written as Ioovvou A (A = first letter in the alphabet),
Second John was Ioovvou H (H = second letter in the alphabet), and Third John
was Ioovvou l (l = third letter in the alphabet).

A near full size reproduction of Acts 1:1-5 from Codex Vaticanus is below. Codex
Vaticanus is a fourth-century Greek text. In the first column is the Codex
Vaticanus. The second column displays the passage transcribed into a modern
(SPIonic) type. How many of the letters can you recognize?

Notice how some of the capital letters (or uncials) are differently formed. In this
particular Codex, sigma is formed like the English “C”. Also notice the lack of
word divisions (!) and the complete absence of accents and breathing marks, and
an almost lack of punctuation. There are even some abbreviations used. For
example, Inoou· (“Jesus”) is abbreviated as I2 in line four.

LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 21
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org



]ONMENHP1]ON/OlON
EHOIH2AMHNHEPIHAN]1
1OEO1I/E1NHP:A]O
I2HOIEIN]EKAILILA2KEI
AXPIH2HMEPA2EN]EI/A
MENO2]OI2AHO2]O/OI2
LIAHNE(MA]O2AlIO(O(2
E:E/E:A]OANE/HM1OH
OI2KAIHAPE2]H2ENEA(
]ONZ1N]AME]A]OHA
OEINA(]ONENHO//OI2
]EKMHPIOI2LIHMEP1N
]E22EPAKON]AOH]ANO
MENO2A(]OI2KAI/El1
]AHEPI]H2HA2I/EIA2]O(O(
KAI2(NA/IZOMENO2HA
PHllEI/ENA(]OI2AHO
IEPO2O/(M1NMHX1PI
ZE2OAIA//AHEPIMENEI
]HNEHAllE/EIAN]O(
HA]PO2HNHKO(2A]EM
O]II1ANNH2MENEHAH]I
2EN(LA]I(MEI2LEEN
HNE(MA]IHAH]I2OH2E
2OEAlI1O(ME]AHO//A2
]A(]A2HMEPA2 OIMEN






LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 22
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
n n n n n
STUDY GUIDE
Sight and Sounds of the Greek Letters (Module A)
The Letters and Pronunciation of the Greek Alphabet
Phonology (Part 1)

The goal of this lesson is to learn to say and write the Greek letters. First practice writing
the small letters (lower case letters) with the guide given below, pronouncing each letter
every time you write it. If you need added help in forming these Greek letters, an on-line
animated tutorial is available. In Exercise 2, you will practice writing the capitals.

Exercise 1: Practice forming the Greek small letters

o o o o o
þ þ þ þ þ
y y y y y
ö ö ö ö ö
t t t t t
C C C C C


û û û û û
1
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 23
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

i i i i i

| | | | |

i i i i i


µ µ µ µ µ

v v v v v

E E E E E
o o o o o
¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬
p p p p p
o o o o o
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 24
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org

· · · · ·

¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬
u u u u u
¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢
y y y y y
¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢
o o o o o
Exercise 2: Practice associating the Greek small and capital letters

Practice writing all the capital letters (upper case letters) with their matching small
letters in their alphabetical order. This is very important that you do this. As
always, pronounce each letter as you write it. Write and say these letters until you
can do so with ease. Do not proceed until you can!

Ao Ao Ao
Final Sigma
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 25
Sight and Sounds of the Greek Letters (Module A)
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
Hþ Hþ Hþ
ly ly ly
Lö Lö Lö
Et Et Et
ZC ZC ZC
Hn Hn Hn
Oû Oû Oû
Ii Ii Ii
K| K| K|
/i /i /i
Mµ Mµ Mµ
Nv Nv Nv
LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 26
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
Final Sigma
:E :E :E
Oo Oo Oo
H¬ H¬ H¬
Pp Pp Pp
2o· 2o· 2o·

]¬ ]¬ ]¬
(u (u (u
1¢ 1¢ 1¢
Xy Xy Xy
1¢ 1¢ 1¢
1o 1o 1o



LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 27
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
Exercise 3: Writing the Greek alphabetical letters from memory

Write both capital and small letters of the Greek alphabet from memory. Write the
capital letters on the left side of the column and the small letters on the right side.

Capital Small Capital Small Capital Small

1. 9. 17.

2. 10. 18.

3. 11. 19.

4. 12. 20.

5. 13. 21.

6. 14. 22.

7. 15. 23.

8. 16. 24.


Exercise 4: Fill in the blank with the correct answer

1. How many letters are there in the Greek alphabet? _________

2. There are __________ vowels and _________________ consonants in the
Greek alphabet.

3. Eleven Greek small letters do not extend below the line when writing them, and
are approximately as wide as they are high. These letters are: ____, ____,
____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, and ____.

4. Eight Greek small letters rest on the line and extend below it when writing
them. These letters are: ___, ___, ___, ___, ___, ___, ___, and ___.

5. Three Greek small letters extend slightly above and below the line. What ones
are they? _____, _____, and _____.

LESSON 1: The Greek Alphabet Page 28
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© Dr. William D. Ramey • Phonology (Part 1) InTheBeginning.org
6. All the Greek capital letters are of _________ height and ________ on the
base line.

7. Vowels are the basic sound in speech, made by vibrating the ______ _____.

Exercise 5: True or False Questions

1. When pronouncing the vowels, all of them are voiced. True False

2. When pronouncing the consonants, all of them are voiced. True False

3. Modern Greek is spoken today like Reconstructed New Testament Greek.
True False.

4. Desiderius Erasmus was a pharmacist in the early 1800s. True False

5. The twenty-four Greek alphabetical characters represent twenty-four different
phonemes in Erasmian Greek pronunciation. True False

6. English is spoken identically in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States.
True False

7. Modern Greek is not pronounced any differently today than when the Apostle
Paul spoke it in the First Century A.D. True False

Exercise 6: Practice saying your “AH l AH l AH l AH ls” Listen


Ao Hþ ly Lö Et ZC Hn Oû

Ii K| /i Mµ Nv :E Oo H¬

Pp 2o· ]¬ (u 1¢ Xy 1¢ 1o


For answers to Lesson One Study Guide and more study aids for Lesson One, go here .

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