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Greek Letter Pronunciation

In a post earlier today, I mentioned how the video I posted sounded out iota in a memorable way. Then Jason and I talked about how we pronounced Chi. We both came to the conclusion that it is pronounced “kigh,” rather than “key.”

Now I want to hear from you. What other letters have different pronunciations from the Greek (I know of at least a few)? What ways have you heard people completely blow the pronunciation of some of these letters (as in the video with iota)?



15 Responses

  1. I heard Matt and Jason blow the pronunciation of chi by saying ‘kigh’ rather than ‘key’ although that should be guttural and not a hard k sound. 😉

    And I hear almost everyone mispronounce omicron as an ‘ah’ sound. It should be pronounced with a long o just like omega. I blame the entire enterprise of Erasmian pronunciation.

    • Indeed, you are right on chi. It is guttural, but how can I make that appear on a blog as such a sound. The closest I can do is write “kigh.”

      I notice people pronounce omicron as an “ah” sound as well. Drove me crazy until I found myself do it a couple of times on accident. Now I’m much kinder to those who mispronounce it (although harder on myself).

  2. Nick: I’ll forgive your pronunciation of the omicron! 😉

    Matt: Another one in that song that stuck out was the upsilon, which in the song is pronounced “up-silon.” I learned to pronounce it “oop-silon.” How about you?

  3. Matt: Yes, they are crazy! 🙂

  4. Jason: How can you forgive that which is correct?!! 😉 Seriously though, if it wasn’t pronounced the same way as omega then certain textual variants make absolutely no sense.

    And it’s “eep-see-lōn” (rhymes with “peep-me-stone”)

  5. Matt: I had something in place of ‘stone’ initially, but I had to change it because it sounded way too wrong!

  6. Being Greek one of the hardest things for me is working out what non-Greek speakers are saying when they are using Greek. Sometimes I just stare at the lecturer or students puzzled.

    • I didn’t know that you were Greek yourself. I’m sorry for our lousy pronunciations of your language. Here’s hoping that eventually we will grow to be better at it. 🙂

      • Hahaha. I don’t always have the best pronunciation either but I know when someone is doing it wrong. I am second generation Australian born but know modern Greek aurally from grandparents and parents.

        So, I can criticise you guys while native Greeks can criticise me

  7. Ari: I’m curious–how different is pronunciation between modern Greek and Koine?

    • I would say it depends on the speaker and their general background in non-English languages.

      This is pretty much how I would say the alphabet with a softer accent:

      You might be sad to hear that the μ no longer goes moo.

  8. Jason: I think the biggest problem we face is that everyone who was around to know what Koine sounded like is dead now. Hence all the confusion about which pronunciation scheme to use. Randall Buth proposes one thing while Chrys Caragounis proposes another while the guys from Greek/Latin Audio propose something else. And these are just the folks that pronounce Greek like it’s a real language! That says nothing of the Erasmian scheme taught in most seminaries and recorded for all to hear by Marilyn Phemister.

  9. Ari: Thanks for the link. Needless to say, my pronunciations differ on many letters from those in the video!

    Nick: You’re right and there will likely never be uniformity amongst Koine teachers and students regarding pronunciation. Good thing it’s not terribly important!

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