Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alphabet 1: Vowels and Marks

Some browser tips, before get started with the alphabet.

Sometimes it's helpful to see larger letters, especially to see the marks around a Greek word. Here's how to change the size:

- Press the Ctrl (control) key, and at the same time...- Press the + key (for larger letters) or the - key (for smaller letters)

- Press the Apple (command) key, and at the same time...
- Press the + key (for larger letters) or the - key (for smaller letters)


About the sounds of letters

Lessons 1-4 feature the Erasmus phonetic system.

Lesson 5 includes Erasmus, Modern, and Koine phonetic systems.



α | sound: ah | name: alpha (ahl.fah)
ε | sound: eh | name: epsilon (ehp.see.lahn)
η | sound: ey | name: eta (ey.tah)
ι | sound: ee | name: iota (ee.oh.tah)
ο | sound: ah | name: omicron (ah.mee.krahn)υ | sound: oo | name: upsilon (oop.see.lahn)
ω | sound: oh | name: omega (oh.meh.gah)

Here are some practice words.All of these words occur in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, in various forms.

¦γά¦πη | ah.gah.pey | love

ἐλ¦πίς | ehl.pees | hope

ἐκ¦κλη¦σί¦α | ehk.kley.see.ah | church, assembly 

Χρι¦στός | kree.stahs |Christ 

λό¦γος | lah.gahs |word

κύ¦ρι¦ος | koo.ree.ahs | lord

¦μῶν | hoo.mohn, | of you


When in a word, Greek letters have some marks floating around them. Let's take a look at them.
1. The smooth breathing mark is silent; it appears over a starting vowel (or over the second vowel in a pair of starting vowels).

ἀ ἐ ἠ ἰ ὀ ὐ ὠ

2. The rough breathing mark adds an h sound at the beginning of a word; in the historically-adjusted system, this mark is silent.

ἁ ἑ ἡ ἱ ὁ ὑ ὡ ῥ

3. Accent marks help you say the word aloud, by showing which syllable to emphasize:

ά έ ή ί ό ύ ώ

ὰ ὲ ὴ ὶ ὸ ὺ ὼ

ᾶ ῆ ῖ ῶ

4. The iota subscript mark is silent, yet carries significance in meaning:

ᾳ ῃ ῳ

5. The apostrophe mark indicates some letters have dropped out, in fact, the remaining ending letter may have changed too. Why? So the pair of words are easier to read aloud together.

διά (dee.ah) is abbreviated as δι' in 1 Thes 1:5,
in this phrase: δι'  ὑμᾶς (dee hoo.mahs, dee ue.mahs)

ἀπό (ah.pah) is abbreviated as ἀφ' in 1 Thes 1:8,
in this phrase:
ἀφ'  ὑμῶν (ahf hoo.mohn, ahf ue.mohn)

6. Early Greek manuscripts have no punctuation. Punctuation was added later, as a convenience to the reader. The markings are different than the ones we are used to. Yet when encountered in context, punctuation is reasonably easy to figure out.

period .
comma ,
semicolon (half of a colon) ·
question mark (this is an odd one yet you'll know it in context) ; 

Rom 8:31 
...εἰ  ὁ  θε¦ὸς  ¦πὲρ  ¦μῶν,  τίς  καθ'  ¦μῶν;
ey hah theh.ahs hoo.pehr hey.mohn, tees kahth hey.mohn
If God for us, who against us?If God is for us, who is against us?

Rom 8:35

τίς  ¦μᾶς  χω¦ρί¦σει  ¦πὸ  τῆς  ¦γά¦πης  τοῦ  Χρι¦στο;...
tees hey.mahs koh.ree.sey ah.pah teys ah.gah.peys too kree.stoo
Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

7. Vowel-by-vowel dots. As we'll learn in the next lesson, some vowel pairs make just one sound. Yet some non-Greek words in the text don't follow this Greek convention. And so a pair of vowel-by-vowel dots go over the second vowel of such a vowel pair, so that the foreign word is pronounced vowel-by-vowel. Here is an example:

1 Thes 1:8


8. Syllables. The Great Treasures site displays syllables, making it easier to begin reading the text. It marks syllable breaks with bars (ex¦am¦ple), a feature that can be turned on or off whenever you choose.


Little Notes

Mark names: The formal names of the marks are:

ἀ smooth breathing

ἁ rough breathing

ά acuteὰ grave (grahv)

ᾶ circumflex

ᾳ iota subscript' elision (ih-lihz-uhn)

ϊ diaeresis (dahy-er-uh-sihs)


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DC said...

what do the squares mean?

Peter Coad said...

If your browser displays the Greek words with some letters looking like little boxes, please update your browser to the newest version. That will take care of the problem.

David said...

Wow, excellent helps! Thank you. When I try to play any audio clip I get an error message "User out of banwidth". How can I correct that problem?

Peter Coad said...

Hi David, Thank you for your kind words and for the bug report. The “play” and “download” features are now back in service. Pete

David said...

Excellent. Tried two audio files and they played well. Gracias!

Priscilla said...

Do you have anything on why there are parenthesis in King James, example: Romans 2:13-15? It is found in many more places but the bible format notes do not seem to address it. Were these in the original?

Peter Coad said...

The oldest Greek manuscripts are written in all capital letters. Everything else (spaces between words, punctuation, verses, chapters, section headings) has been added over time.

Versions use parentheses to indicate that the main thought goes from just before the first parenthesis, to just after the second parenthesis; what's in between provides supporting information.

Read the passage. Then read the passage without the words in the parentheses. If the version writers got it right, then reading it this way will help you better grasp the overall thought content of the passage.