Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody, this is Stefania! Welcome to GreekPod101.com’s Alfaveeto made easy. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn the Greek alphabet: the alfaveeto!
You should be feeling pretty confident with your Greek now. You have learned all the letters of the Greek alphabet in uppercase and lowercase, so writing Greek isn’t a problem anymore, is it? But what about reading? If you’ve tried it, you probably have noticed that there are still some things you haven’t learned yet. Over the next three lessons, you’ll put the finishing touches on your Greek alphabet knowledge!
This lesson’s topic will be special letter combinations. There are a few combinations which have a different sound together than they have separately. For example, even though there are three ways to write the sound “ee” (“Eeta”, “Yota” and “Ipsilon”) you can also write the same sound with a combination of letters.
If you combine “Epsilon” and “Yota” or “Omikron” and “Yota”, they also make an “ee” sound. Take a look at this word.
If you sound out the first two letters, you get “eh”-“ee”, but actually you would pronounce the whole combination simply as “ee”. The word είσοδος uses this combination and means “entrance.” Let’s write it together.
είσοδος
Another combination is “Omikron”-“Yota” –put them together and “Omikron” stops being “oh” and becomes “ee”. This is a really important combination because most Greek masculine nouns end in this “Omikron”-“Yota” combination in their nominative plural form; it’s also the article for the nominative plural! “άνθρωπος” means “man” as in “mankind” or “human being”. Its singular form is “ο άνθρωπος” but the plural form becomes “οι άνθρωποι” . Let’s write these together:
Ο άνθρωπος
Οι άνθρωποι
In these two examples, it’s like one vowel sound overwrites the other. But there are also combinations in which two vowels create a completely different sound!
Remember how “Alpha” makes an “ah” sound? But if you combine it with “Yota” -- an “ee” sound, the end result is an “eh” sound! This might take some practice so let’s look at some examples.
A very common word using this combination is “είμαι” meaning “am” as in “I am”. So if you want to write “I’m a student” in Greek, the sentence is “Είμαι μαθητής” and the “eh” sound in “eimai” is written with this combination:
Είμαι μαθητής
When you were learning the basic alphabet you might have wondered if there is an “oo” sound in Greek. Well there is, but you need to make it with two letters instead of one.
In this case, it is “Omikron” combined with “Ipsilon”. The most common example is “ouzo” the famous Greek drink! v It’s written “ούζο” and for the “oo” sound we use “Omikron”-“Ipsilon”. Let’s write this too:
ούζο
How do you feel so far? You’ve learned four vowel combinations so far, so let’s see four combinations which create consonant sounds and we will be done –I promise. These ones are even a little easier I think.
If you take “Alpha” and “Ipsilon”, it becomes “av”. Even though there is a “v” sound in Greek, “Veeta”, for historical reasons, some words use “Alpha”-“Ipsilon” to make this sound instead. One such word is “αυγή” which is Greek for “dawn”. Let’s see how it is written:
αυγή
Now for something really tricky: on some occasions, this exact same combination, “Alpha”-“Ipsilon” is not read “av” but “af”! I know it’s a little strange, but it is in many very common words. For example the word “αυτοκίνητο” which means “car” is said with an “af” sound. Not an “av” sound.
αυτοκίνητο
Two more and we are done. These are very similar to the last two.
Just like how “Alpha”-“Ipsilon” makes either “av” or “af”, the same sort of thing happens with “Epsilon”-“Ipsilon”: it can be read “ev” or “ef”. For example, two very good words in Greek are “ευγενικός” meaning “polite” and “ευχαριστώ” meaning “thank you”. These two both start from the “Epsilon”-“Ipsilon” combination, but the first makes an “ev” sound and the second makes an “ef” sound.
ευγενικός
ευχαριστώ
So let’s recap: besides the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet, there are also some double vowel combinations which exist because of historical reasons. These combinations are:
“Omikron” and “Yota”: sounds like “ee”: Οι άνθρωποι
“Epsilon” and “Yota”: also sounds like “ee”: Είσοδος
“Omikron” and “Ipsilon”: sounds like “oo: Ούζο
“Alpha” and “Yota”: sounds like “eh”: είμαι
“Alpha” and “Ipsilon”: sometimes sounds like “av”: Αυγή
And sometimes sounds like “af”: Αυτοκίνητο
“Epsilon” and “Ipsilon”: sometimes sounds like “ev”: Ευγενικός
And sometimes sounds like “ef”: Ευχαριστώ
Now it's time for Stefania’s insights.
While this is not a grammar lesson, here’s something that might help you better understand Greek, and remember at least one of those combinations: the combination “Epsilon-ipsilon”, which make an “ev” or “ef” sound, actually means “good” in Ancient Greek. This means that almost all words starting with this combination are “good” things; the words “evgeneekos” and “efhareestoh” we wrote here are such words. When you come across a Greek text, see if you can spot other such words and check their meanings; I think this is going to help you remember them more easily.
That’s it for this lesson. In our next lesson we will look at the last sounds that are formed by consonant combinations –there are only six combinations for five sounds, so they won’t be a problem either!
See you in the next lesson!
Ya hara!

22 Comments

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GreekPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 10:21 PM
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Hi Reeee,


It seems you liked this lesson a lot! I'm glad for that 😄


Let us know if you have any questions.


All the best,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

Reeee
Friday at 01:59 AM
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❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 07:36 AM
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Hi Barbara!


Exactly! Those consonants are the voiced and the unvoiced ones, which makes it so much easier! Here's a helpful video to reinforce what you already figured out :)


https://bit.ly/2pqs9Hg


Kind regards,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

Barbara Marinakis
Wednesday at 08:18 PM
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Regarding the “αυ”/”ευ” combinations, when I first saw the lists of consonants that determine whether the upsilon makes a "φ" sound or a "β" sound I felt pretty intimidated, until I realized that all the consonants that result in a "φ" sound are, like the φ, unvoiced. The consonants that make the vowel combinations make a "β" sound are, like the β, voiced.


And so I relaxed because I had an easy way to know what sound to make without having to memorize those lists! 😄

GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 04:02 AM
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Hi An,


Yes, that's another combination that you will see in grammar books, but it's a combination you see extremely rarely and since it basically produces the same sound as the vowels it consists of (i + i = i), it wouldn't be difficult for a student of Greek to figure out its pronunciation, therefore it has been omitted in the video to keep things simpler for students trying to learn Greek. For example a student could be confused when seeing a word like "σάντουιτς" (pronounced sánduits, not sándoits) where there is ο+υ+ι and could mean either ου + ι... or... ο + υι.


To my knowledge, there are only 5 native Greek words that use the υι combination:

https://bit.ly/2OOAL1A


I can't think of any other compound word or derivative that uses these words or the υι combination pronounced as /i/. It's also something you won't find at the end of a word either. Unless it's a word of foreign origin like the word Μαλάουι ("Malay language") or Μπόουι (from "David Bowie"). But even so, the pronounciation is that of ου + ι, not ο + υι. The word "σάντουιτς" is also a foreign origin word.


Apart from the combination υι, there are other letter combinations that produce the same sound as the sounds they consist of. For example the double λλ or κκ among others. So υι is not the only combination with that characteristic.


If memorizing all these vowel and consonant combinations is an issue, you can leave aside the υι because like I said it produces the same sound as the ones it consists of.


Kind regards,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

An
Sunday at 01:06 AM
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Hello,


In this lesson we see 6 vowel combinations…

I have a grammarbook (Stathis Papaloukas) that is mentioning a seventh one : YI ???


An




GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 06:43 PM
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Hello William,


Thank you for your question.

As you correctly noticed "αι" sounds like "e"

e.g. 'μαχαίρι' [mahéri] meaning 'knife' or 'παίζω' [pézo] meaning 'play'.

When 'διαλυτικά' (like the german umlaut) are placed over a vowel letter like 'ι', that indicates that the word is sounded separately, usually forming a distinct syllable.

e.g. 'Αϊτή' [Aití] (NOT Etí) meaning Haiti or Αϊνστάιν [Αïnstáin] (ΝΟΤ Enstáin) meaning 'Einstein'.


If you need any further information or example, please contact us again.


The best,

Nektarios

Team GreekPod101.com

William R.
Tuesday at 01:22 PM
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I noticed "και" has a "keh" sound, is the "αι" always like "eh"?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 02:05 AM
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Hi George,


Thank you for asking me this!


Please rewatch the video. You might have missed the part (5:40) where the combination ευ (epsilon-ipsilon) is explained which can be read as “ev” or “ef”. In the case of Παρασκευή, it's not υη (ipsilon-ita) that creates the /v/ sound before η. It's ευ that creates the /ev/ sound before η. If I were to split the word into syllables, it would be Πα-ρα-σκευ-ή (Pa-ra-skev-í) as we never split double vowel combinations in syllabification. The romanization I put resembles closely the sound of the word when pronounced.


I hope this is cleared now :) If not, let me know if you have more questions.


Happy studying!


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

George W
Sunday at 02:53 PM
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Παρασκεύη Hi, I have run into a bit of a quandary, The word for Friday- Παρασκεύη -- end with vi. I guess I missed something. How does ipselon and eta become vi? Or maybe I am hearing it wrong; however the romanization says vi also.

Thanks, george