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Ancient Greek for Everyone:
A New Digital Resource for
Beginning Greek
Unit 1 part 3:
diacritical marks, typing,
alphabetical order
2013 edition
Wilfred E. Major
wmajor@lsu.edu
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• This class
– You have learned all the Greek letters.
– Today we learn all the other marks that appear in
written Greek:
– accent marks
– breathing marks
– punctuation
– How to type ancient Greek
– The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
– How to end a Greek word
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Polytonic Greek
When foreigners (ξένοι) started learning Greek in antiquity,
Greek scholars developed additional symbols to help nonGreeks speak the language.
From this practice, Polytonic Greek uses the following:
• accent marks
• breathing marks
• punctuation
Ancient Greek for Everyone
BREATHINGS
Ancient Greek does not use a separate letter for the
‘h’ sound.
Remember that Greek has the aspirated consonants
φ, θ, and χ to indicate this sound.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
BREATHINGS
If a word begins with aspiration, but not one with of
these consonants, however, the aspirated consonants
are no help, so Greek uses two symbols to indicate
aspiration or lack of it.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
BREATHINGS
• ’  no aspiration: ὀ = “o” (“smooth” breathing)
• ‘  aspiration: ὁ = “ho” (“rough” breathing)
Ancient Greek for Everyone
BREATHINGS
Helpful hint: Words beginning with ρ or υ always have
a rough breathing:
• ῥο = rho
– as in ῥυθμος = rhythmos (“rhythm”)
• ὑ = hy– as in ὑπερ = hyper “above” ( English “hyper”)
Ancient Greek for Everyone
BREATHINGS
Sometimes only a breathing marks the difference
between words.
For example:
• αὐτον = “him”
αὐτην = “her”
• αὑτον = “himself” αὑτην = “herself”
Notice that if the word begins with a diphthong,
the breathing appears over the second letter.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
• Most words in Ancient Greek have an accent.
• Ancient Greeks knew how to accent words.
• They wrote in the accents to help non-Greeks learn
the language.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Ancient Greek scholars said the accent was a
rising tone on a single short vowel sound,
so they marked it with a line rising from left-toright: / (acute accent).
You may stress the vowel to sound the accent, but
try not to make it long when you do!
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
If an accent on a word was not pronounced, the symbol is
inverted, called a grave accent (\).
For example, a final accented vowel before another word was
typically not accented:
τιμή but τιμὴ δέ.
If a vowel has a grave (\), simply do not pronounce the accent!
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting short vowel sounds
• The vowels ᾰ, ε, ῐ, ο, and ῠ are short.
• When accented, the acute accent appears above these
vowels: ά, έ, ί, ό, and ύ.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting long vowel sounds
• The vowels ᾱ, η, ῑ, ω, and ῡ are long.
• Long vowels are, as their name suggests, long, in fact
double-length, vowel sounds:
ᾱ = αα, η = εε, ῑ = ιι, ω = οο, and ῡ = υυ
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting long vowel sounds
• If the first part of this sound bears the accent, then the
whole vowel has a rising tone (/),
then a falling tone (\), so it is marked
^ (circumflex) over the vowel.
άὰ = ᾶ, έὲ = ῆ, ίὶ = ῖ, όὸ = ῶ, ύὺ = ῦ
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting long vowel sounds
• If the second part of the sound bears the accent, then
only the rising tone (/) is written.
αά = ά, εέ = ή, ιί = ί, οό = ώ, υύ = ύ
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting long vowel sounds
• When the second of two consecutive vowels is an ι or υ, the
pair is a diphthong. The same rules for marking an acute (/) or
circumflex (^) apply as for long vowels, and the accent is
always written over the second vowel:
• άὶ = αῖ
έὶ = εῖ
όὶ = οῖ
ύὶ = υῖ
• αί = αί
εί = εί
οί = οί
υί = υί
• άὺ = αῦ έὺ = εῦ
όὺ = οῦ
• αύ = αύ εύ = εύ
ού = ού
Ancient Greek for Everyone
ACCENTS
Accenting long vowel sounds
• Remember that the vowels α, ε and ο contract when they meet.
The same rules for marking an acute (/) or circumflex (^) apply
as for long vowels and diphthongs:
• ά+ὲ=ᾶ ά+ὸ=ῶ
• έ + ὰ = ῆ έ + ὸ = οῦ
• ό + ὰ = ῶ ό + ὲ = οῦ
α+έ=ά
ε+ά=ή
ο+ά=ώ
α+ό=ώ
ε + ό = ού
ο + έ = ού
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Placing the accent:
– On most Greek words, the “recessive” rule determines the
placement of the accent. This means:
– If the last syllable of the word contains a single short
vowel, the accent “recedes” two syllables:
– δίδοτε
– It can recede only to the last short vowel sound of this
syllable (never to the first part), so the accent appears as an
acute (“/”):
– ἄνθρωπος, δώσετε (= δοόσετε)
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Placing the accent:
– On most Greek words, the “recessive” rule determines the
placement of the accent. This means:
– If the word has only two syllables and the last syllable of
the word contains a single short vowel, the accent
“recedes” to the first syllable:
– δότε
– or the first part of a long vowel sound:
– δῶρον (= δόορον)
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Placing the accent:
– On most Greek words, the “recessive” rule determines the
placement of the accent. This means:
– If the last syllable of the word contains a long vowel sound,
the accent “recedes” only one syllable:
– διδότω.
– It can recede only to the second part of this syllable, so the
accent always appears as an acute (“/”):
– παραδώσω (= παραδοόσω = παραδοόσοο)
Ancient Greek for Everyone
PUNCTUATION
Greek uses four marks of punctuation:
•
•
•
•
full stop . (period)
half stop · (colon; Greek for “limb”; ~ semi-colon)
pause , (comma; Greek for “stamp mark”)
question mark ; (top/bottom reverse of ? symbol)
Quotation marks: strictly speaking, a capital
letter marks the beginning of a direct quote,
but often modern texts add quotation marks
for clarity.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
SPELL IT LIKE IT SOUNDS!
• Remember that ancient Greek spells words the way they
sound, rather than having a fixed spelling system. This
explains why and how they write elisions:
• When Greeks elided or contracted words as they spoke, they
wrote them in contracted form.
• In formal English, we write only uncontracted forms (“stop
and go” instead of “stop ‘n’ go” etc), regardless of how we
pronounce them. Formal Greek writing, however, shows the
contractions.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
An example of elision:
μετὰ ἐμοῦ = with me
Remember: saying two vowels together is bad, so most of the
time, this phrase is elided to:
μετ’ ἐμοῦ = wit’ me
SPELL IT LIKE IT SOUNDS!
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• This class (Thursday, August 29, 2013)
– You have learned all the Greek letters.
– Today we learn all the other marks that appear in written
Greek:
– accent marks
– breathing marks
– punctuation
– How to type ancient Greek
– The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
– How to end a Greek word
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Typing Ancient Greek on digital devices:
• The basic Greek keyboard (called Modern, Demotic, or
Monotonic) has only a single accent.
• Ancient Greek, in order to type the accents and breathing
marks, requires the “polytonic” keyboard.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Typing Ancient Greek on digital devices:
Recent Windows and Apple systems have built-in polytonic
Greek keyboards. You need only activate them. In Moodle
and at www.dramata.com are reference sheets for typing
ancient (polytonic) Greek in a Windows or Mac environment.
There is also an app called “Write Polytonic Greek” by Michael
Chourdakis for typing ancient Greek in iOS on your iPhone
etc.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Typing Ancient Greek on digital devices:
There are more sophisticated programs available as well, but
these reference sheets do not require the purchase or
installation of any new software, just activating a keyboard
already on your computer.
Important: Read, copy and input Greek using Unicode
characters. It is and will remain the standard. Other methods
are fading and some are hard to convert.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Typing Ancient Greek on digital devices:
• You can use any font you wish. So long as it is Unicodecompliant, it should display and print characters correctly and
it will convert to other fonts consistently.
• I use Palatino Linotype for the Greek in these Power Points,
handouts, etc., since it is bundled with Windows and nicely
legible.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• This class (Thursday, August 29, 2013)
– You have learned all the Greek letters.
– Today we learn all the other marks that appear in written
Greek:
– accent marks
– breathing marks
– punctuation
– How to type ancient Greek
– The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
– How to end a Greek word
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• Greek has twenty-four letters.
– upper-case:
ΑΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΟΠΡΣΤΥΦΧΨΩ
– lower-case:
αβγδεζηθικλμνξοπρσςτυφχψω
Sing the Greek alphabet to
“Itsy Bitsy Spider”!
Sing the Greek alphabet to
“Frère Jacques”!
Ancient Greek for Everyone
The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
• Greek Alphabet Song – rock
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKW9-7ZHv_4
• Greek Alphabet – techno
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUrZHF_WBeI
• Greek Alphabet – hip-hop
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vapoNlGio8U
• Greek Alphabet – sing-a-long
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK7oKv0Jes4
Ancient Greek for Everyone
Ancient Greek for Everyone
The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
A YouTube video shows how to write the letters, at
Learn the Greek Alphabet: 4A Penmanship Counts!: – Alpha-Mu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHDdBprw0XQ (part 1)
Learn the Greek Alphabet: 4B. Penmanship Counts: Nu-Omega
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8gm2VFs_co (part 2)
Visit www.dramata.com for:
• A power point that diagrams the Greek letters by hand
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• This class (Thursday, August 29, 2013)
– You have learned all the Greek letters.
– Today we learn all the other marks that appear in written
Greek:
– accent marks
– breathing marks
– punctuation
– How to type ancient Greek
– The Greek alphabet in alphabetical order
– How to end a Greek word
Ancient Greek for Everyone
How to end a Greek word
• A Greek word can end only in a vowel, -ν, -ρ or -ς.
• If necessary, consonants will drop from the end until the
word reaches an allowable final sound
– For example, σῶματ  σῶμα.
• A word ending in -σι can add a final -ν (“nu-movable”) to
make pronunciation easier:
– For example, εἴκοσι εἶσι  εἴκοσιν εἶσιν.
– This added -ν has no meaning; it simply helps pronunciation.
Ancient Greek for Everyone
• Next class
– Practice! Practice! Practice!
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