Pronunciation Help?

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Jason Rules
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Pronunciation Help?

Post by Jason Rules » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:16 am

Hello. I'm starting this book out very slowly and I would like to get everything right before I think about moving on.

So, there are a few letters that I'm unclear on. Think you can help a guy out? I'd appreciate it

Zeta- I'm guessing a Z sound, but the example "adze" threw me off

Iota- The examples given are pin and machine. Is this sort of a "You can do it either way you want/whatever you're comfortable with"?

Xi- My guess is "kss", but I'm probably wrong

Omicron and Omega- What's the difference? Is it that Omega is shorter?

Upsilon- Is it pronounced "oo"?

Chi- German "buch" I don't know


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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by modus.irrealis » Thu Feb 05, 2009 3:41 am

Hi. Pronunciation is a bit of a thorny issue since there are a lot of different pronunciation schemes in use, so I'm not sure if you want like the popular pronunciation used by most people or the pronunciation that the Greek themselves used in Ancient times (as far as we can reconstruct it) or the pronunciation Greeks today use and so on and so on...
Jason Rules wrote:Zeta- I'm guessing a Z sound, but the example "adze" threw me off
In Classical times, it was pronounced either as [zd] or [dz] (I believe scholars think the former is more likely for Classical Athens), and later was pronounced just [z], so none of those are really wrong. I think most people on these forums use [zd] and this seems to be the recommended pronunciation in most of the newer textbooks I've seen.
Iota- The examples given are pin and machine. Is this sort of a "You can do it either way you want/whatever you're comfortable with"?
Here's it's just that certain iotas are short and others are long but the spelling doesn't distinguish the two, like it does for certain other vowels. So pin is for short iota and machine for long (although, the two "i"s in English are also slightly different vowels and don't differ only in length, while the Greek vowels only differed in length.)
Xi- My guess is "kss", but I'm probably wrong
No, that's right.
Omicron and Omega- What's the difference? Is it that Omega is shorter?
Omega is the longer one (you can remember it because micron means "small" and mega means "great"). Omega was also more open.
Upsilon- Is it pronounced "oo"?
Upsilon was pronounced like French u or German ü (and there are short and long versions like with iota) -- there's no real equivalent in English. If you're not familiar with that sound, the way I was taught it in school was to round your lips as if you're saying "oo" but then try to say "ee" without moving your lips. It feels awkward at first but eventually it becomes natural.

The omicron-upsilon combination is usually pronounced "oo" though.
Chi- German "buch" I don't know
In the Classical pronunciation chi was pronounced like the "k" in "kin" and then kappa was like the "k" in "skin" -- which are different, but since the difference is hard to get used to at first, lots of people pronounce it using the pronunciation it got later, which is basically a rough "h" sound -- it also occurs in words like Chanukah or (Scottish) loch.

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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by Superavi » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:38 am

This website is from the Berkeley language center. ... start.html

Just click ‘Pronunciation Guide’ in the top left. Then pick a letter on the left. It gives you the technical name of the sound, most of the time it will provide an example based off English, and if you click the letters you will hear an audio clip of the sound. You can also switch between a male and a female voice. The male voice is Donald Mastronarde whose name may sound familiar since he has a highly popular Introduction to Attic Greek textbook. With his credentials I believe it is very trustworthy tool.

Hope this help!

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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by skywola » Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:19 pm

Do a search on youtube for Ancient Greek, "Practice in pronunciation." Kleber Kosta has some cool pronuncation practice videos. I cannot post the link as I am new to the forum.
I am also in possession of a text copy of James Williams White's First Greek Book . . . . I created it using OCR and a C++ program that I wrote, that helped sort out the Greek from the English. This is a textized copy! That makes it searchable! I have also written a program called Tachufind, in Visual Basic that was literally written around the First Greek Book, it can help you enter in Greek and English together, and, learn grammar rapidy using text coloring. This program took me two years to write. Alas, I am new, so I cannot post the link, but I will once I have got my 10 posts . . . an enterprizing searcher could still find it.

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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by Connor21 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:58 am

One thing which helps my students is showing them diagrams of how the consonant is made (you can find these in 'Tree or Three', or 'Ship or Sheep' , or draw them yourself. The diagrams really help them see what they should be doing with thier mouths. After showing them the diagram, allow them time to practice themselves for 1-2 minutes.

I like using minimal pairs a lot too. You can practice listening skills with simple activities like jump the line (ss jump from left to right depending on whether the word you say starts with m or n, for example. Or play bingo (make your own bingo cards online with lots of minimal pairs on them).

After some recognition work and drills, you can write a short dialogue using the sounds and have them practice the dialogue whilst you go round correcting thier pron of the target consonant. I usually do this and progress is slow, but my ss are generally getting much better at the basic sounds!

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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by jaihare » Sun Oct 26, 2014 6:17 am

Cornelius wrote:Carpe Diem- Is that pronounced with the first word "Carpe" the same as carpe the fish? And "Diem" as a D and an M sound. Like D.M.?
The -e on carpe is pronounced. Something like "KAR-pay."
Cornelius wrote:Memento mori- Is the "mento" part of "Memento" said like "mento" in "Mentos"?(The breath things.) and the "Me" part of it said like the "Me" in "Memory"?
Close enough. :)
Cornelius wrote:A posse ad esse- I'm assuming "A" is pronounced the same as A in the english language. Is "Posse" Pronounced like the slang term "posse" like a group of people, gang, friends, etc. Then "Ad" As in a "Campaign -Ad-"? And "Esse" said the same as "Essay"?
'A' is read like 'ah' [ɑ] (as in English father not as [æ] in English bad). The 'o' is read as 'oh,' not as 'ah.' Esse is close enough to essay.
Cornelius wrote:Aut viam inveniam aut faciam- "Aut" the same as "At"? "Viam" The same as the sound of V with the word AM? "Inven" the same as inven in "Invention". "Faciam" Sound kinda like Fascism?
Aut is like English out. Viam is like English we (as in "us") and ahm. The v in Latin is like English w, thus inveniam is een-WEH-nee-ahm. The c is always hard, thus FAH-kee-ahm.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Pronunciation Help?

Post by Juan Huarte » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:12 pm

This post is just for an update.
Please, notice that there is a new link for the Ancient Greek Tutorials sponsored by the University of California Press.
- The old link: ... start.html.
- The new one:

I had been a few years without visiting the site. As I knew the site, I did not notice the change on my return to it ... and I spent a few minutes because the old links to the sound files do not work. The new version does work perfectly well.

I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this signature from Markos over on the Agora forum here at Textkit. Every suggestion as to improve my Greek will be welcome.

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