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Lesson Transcript

Maria: All About Greek lesson 2. Learning the Greek Writing System
Maria: Hey, everyone, welcome back. Today Iro and I are going to expound on something very close to Greek hearts.
Iro: Yes! The fantastic alphabet!
Maria: Greek has one of the oldest writing systems in the world today. The form we know today has been used continuously since the Greek Dark Ages.
Iro: Yes, there are examples of written Greek dating from 1200 B.C.! And that's only the current alphabet.
Maria: Yes, the Greek alphabet is in fact much older, isn't it!
Iro: Yes, most specialists believe that the Phoenician alphabet was adopted for Greek during the early eighth century B.C. The earliest known fragmentary Greek inscriptions date from this time, 770–750 B.C., and they match Phoenician letter forms from around 800–750 B.C.
Maria: The oldest substantial texts known today are the Dipylon inscription and the text on the so-called Cup of Nestor, both dated to the late eighth century BC.
Iro: It's really amazing how they've been preserved.
Maria: Yes, and the development and spread of the language to other countries is also amazing!
Iro: Indeed! In the Classical period of Greek history, the script was used in two varieties, Western Greek and Eastern Greek. They were different in the way of writing a few symbols. The Eastern alphabet developed into classical Greek and Byzantine. Later, the Cyrillic, Gothic, and Coptic alphabets were worked out on the basis of the Greek alphabet, and so were the Armenian and the Georgian scripts.
Maria: Wow! I had no idea!
Iro: Yes, the Roman alphabet used for Western European languages, the Cyrillic alphabet used for Eastern European languages, and even the Scandinavian Runic alphabet are all directly descended from the Greek alphabet, so it certainly was the parent of all modern European alphabets.
Maria: Wow, that's a lot of history!
Iro: True. And there is more!
Maria: Maybe you should skip the history bit and get into, you know, how the Greek alphabet developed instead…
Iro: Hmm…maybe you're right. We Greeks do like to talk a lot about our history
Maria: I'm fully aware of that…
Iro: I’m now going to say the Greek Alphabet:
Α α Álfa
Β β Víta
Γ γ Gámma
Δ δ Délta
Ε ε Épsilon
Ζ ζ Zíta
Η η Ítta
Θ θ Thíta
Ι ι Gióta
Κ κ Káppa
Λ λ Lámda
Μ μ Mi
Ν ν Ni
Ξ ξ Xi
Ο ο Ómikron
Π π Pi
Ρ ρ Ro
Σ σ ς Sígma
Τ τ Tay
Υ υ Ýpsilon
Φ φ Fi
Χ χ Chi
Ψ ψ Psi
Ω ω Oméga
Maria: Ahem…okay, so what else is so amazing about the Greek alphabet?
Iro: Well, one of the most important developments, which has formed many alphabets we know today, is the vowel system!
Maria: The vowel system, eh. I wonder how modern languages would sound without them… "My nm s Mra"…I'm not even going to try.
Iro: Good work, Maria...what I'm trying to say is that because the language was very difficult to pronounce and read, the Greeks introduced vowels!
Maria: Yes, and thanks to that, I can actually say "My name is Maria" without biting my tongue!
Iro: The Greek alphabet divided the letters into two categories, consonants and vowels, where the consonant letters always had to be accompanied by vowels to create a pronounceable unit.
Maria: Yeah, and there were some sounds that couldn't be produced with a consonant plus a vowel, so they introduced the two-letter consonants, right?
Iro: They sure did! Sounds such as [d] or [b] needed a separate compilation of two consonants.
Maria: It all sounds so complicated. My brain is hurting...
Iro: You're not the only one! But this is what's so great about the Greek language; it's very profound but very logical once you know it!
Maria: Yeah, at the end of the day, the Greek alphabet does only consist of twenty-four letters, right?
Iro: That's right, and if you know those twenty-four, you can produce any Greek sound!
Maria: Still seems like a lot though.
Iro: Yeah…but hey, think how great it will be when you can read philosophy and know the meaning without having to look it up.
Maria: I guess it will save me a lot of time, huh?
Iro: Or the biggest motivator of all for learning the Greek alphabet - being able to order food.
Maria: Yes, but then there is always the look-at-other-people's-dishes-and-point method.
Iro: Okay, I can see we have to make it more enticing for everyone.
Maria: Yes, tell us some hints to make it easy! Lie to us if you have to!
Iro: Well, like most menus out there, Greek menus are also divided into sections…appetizers, meat dishes, fish dishes, desserts, and so forth.
Maria: So learning the basic words for these will make your order a lot easier!
Iro: Sure! And being a tourist ordering in Greek, there is a big chance you'll get something on the house!
Maria: That's great. Suddenly the alphabet isn’t sounding too bad.
Iro: The alphabet must be good; after all, both the Romans and the Vikings used it at one point.
Maria: Before we finish, I think there is one thing we quickly need to mention about writing question marks in Greek.
Iro: Yes, in English you have a question mark, "?," to indicate that it is a question. However, in Greek we use what you would call a semicolon.
Maria: I was very confused at first when there were semicolons everywhere!
Iro: Well, no more confusion. They are the Greek question mark.
Maria: And on that note, let's wrap up this lesson about the Greek alphabet. There was a lot of information, but it should provide you with a basic understanding of the language.
Iro: Yes, and remember, the Greek alphabet is not as hard as you might think.
Maria: And a lot of people really enjoy learning it. Learn the Greek alphabet with us here at GreekCPod101.com.
Iro: Thank you for listening!
Maria: Bye!
Iro: Geia sas!


Please to leave a comment.
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GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Can you write in Greek?

Monday at 05:09 PM
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I tried the link http://www.cambridgescp.com/downloads/typegreek.pdf and got the message that the link was not found. Is there another way to be able to type the Greek alphabet in the written part of the quizzes? My computer uses Windows 7 operating system but I use Open Office rather than Microsoft Word.

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:27 PM
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Hello Jessica,

Thank you for contacting us about this.

Below you will find a link that will help you install the Greek keyboard on your laptop (Mac or Windows). Please add simple “Greek” and not “Greek Polytonic” as suggested on this page:


Here you can see a more complete character map of a Greek keyboard. You can print this and keep it somewhere visible near you, so you can have a glimpse every time you type and get stuck!


(Notice how the right Alt button is marked in blue, as well as the characters it can produce once pressed. The button next to the letter “L” is marked with red and it’s the one that produces the regular accent mark.)"

Alternatively, and depending on where you are, you may find in an online store a set of stickers with the Greek letters to stick on your keyboard buttons.

When writing in Greek, you can put accents by pressing once the button next to the letter “L” and then the vowel you want. See which button I mean here:


In this case you will get something like this: ά, έ, ί, ή, ύ, ό, ώ.

However there are other accent marks too. In the following video, after the minute 2:39, you will see those ones.


-Basically in order to get something like this: αϊ, you need to press: Right Shift + the button I mentioned before, (both at the same time) and then the vowel ι or υ (these are the only ones that get that accent mark)

-In order to get something like this: αΐ, you need to press: Right Alt + the button I mentioned before (both at the same time) + ι or υ (these are the only ones that get it, again)

-For the Greek question mark, that looks like the English semicolon (;), you need to press the letter “Q” when your keyboard is set to Greek.

-For the Greek quotation marks («»), you need to press: Right Alt + either one of the two buttons on the right of the letter “P”.

I hope this information helps. Let me know how it goes!


Team GreekPod101.com

Monday at 04:27 PM
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I have a question about the writing questions quizzes. I have an English keyboard on my laptop so it doesn't let me type in the Greek characters. Do you know of anyway to make it so I can type the characters in, or get an app for the Greek characters? I know they have something like that on google translate, where you can use a drop down mini keyboard to type in the characters if needed.

I know I can still write the answers out by hand and check them that way, but it would be nice to be able to type them in too. If you know of any app for a laptop or ipad . or have any advice that would be wonderful :)

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 05:55 AM
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Hi Damian,

Thank you for taking the time to write us a message and tell us a little bit about you. It's great that you like and appreciate Greek mythology that much.

If you really want to learn Greek effectively you would need to have access to all of our materials, so perhaps someone from your family could pay for you. Since this is a purely educational site, it would be worth the little investment. Our prices are very affordable comparing to language schools and tutors.

I really hope you can find someone to help you get a plan.

Kind regards,


Team GreekPod101.com

Sunday at 11:44 PM
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I'm 12 and really want to learn Greek. I want to learn Greek because I like the Greek Myths etc and am interested in the language, but some lessons aren't available to me, since I can't buy any paid plans.

Any help would be great.


GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:59 PM
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Hi Wily,

Thank you for commenting.

I'm glad you enjoy the voices of this lesson!

Good luck on your Greek studies!

Let us know if you ever have any questions.


Team GreekPod101.com

Wednesday at 02:45 AM
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I like your voice. Its charmy.

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:34 PM
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Hi Lexie,

Thank you for your question and welcome to GreekPod101.com

We teach Greek by using English in order to explain the grammar theory, so if you speak English well enough, I believe that there shouldn't be a problem for a young learner.

As far as Greek is concerned, just like every language, it might seem difficult at first to get started, but that depends on the person and the motivation, rather than the age I think.

Me personally, I believe that the younger someone is, the easier it is to learn. If you would like to give this a go, keep in mind that we are always here to answer questions and help you. All you have to do is leave a comment:smile:

All the best,


Team GreekPod101.com

Tuesday at 08:56 AM
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Hello Greekpod101, I'm 12 and I really want to learn Greek. Are these lessons easy enough for a 6th grader?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:41 AM
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Hello Sajjid

Thank you for your message. Can you send us an e-mail to contactus@greekpod101.com with your username?



Team GreekPod101.com