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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Greek.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Chrissi
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Greek writing.
The Greek Alphabet
The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters. There are 17 consonants and 7 vowels:
A, Β, Γ, Δ, Ε, Ζ, Η, Θ, Ι, Κ, Λ, Μ, Ν, Ξ, Ο, Π, Ρ, Σ, Τ, Υ, Φ, Χ, Ψ, Ω.
Lowercase: (α)βγδ(ε)ζ(η)θ(ι)κλμνξ(ο)πρστ(υ)φχψ(ω)
There is an uppercase and a lowercase version for each letter, just like in English. However, the letter sigma (Σ, σ), which is equivalent to the English "S," has an extra lowercase form which is used only when sigma is the final letter of a word.
σ --> ς
The Greek alphabet was the basis for the Roman alphabet which English uses, so you will see a lot of similarities between the uppercase Greek and English letters.
Writing in Greek
All uppercase letters are written above the line just like most lowercase letters. However there are some lowercase letters that extend a little bit below the line:
These are: β, γ, ζ, η, μ, ξ, ρ, φ, χ, and ψ.
Depending on the handwriting of a person, β and η might also be written completely above the line by shortening their extended lines.
Although Greek can also be handwritten in cursive style, this is not how Greeks usually write as learning cursive writing is not compulsory at school.
When writing in Greek, the order of letters is from left to right, with spaces between the words, just like in English.
For example:
το μολύβι μου (to molívi mu, "my pencil")
The only difference is that Greek uses accent marks over the stressed syllables.
The main punctuation marks include the period, the comma, the exclamation mark, the question mark, which actually looks like an English semicolon, and the quotation marks.
. , ! ; «»
The Greek semicolon, which is literally called "upper dot" in Greek, is a dot that is placed at mid-letter height.
· --> α·
After an upper dot, the next word doesn't need to be capitalized. But after a period, an exclamation mark, and a question mark, you should capitalize the first letter of a new sentence, just like you would do in English.
Η πόρτα ξαφνικά άνοιξε· ήταν ο πατέρας. Τι χαρά! Πού να ήταν άραγε; Τον αγκάλιασα.
I pórta xafniká ánixe; ítan o patéras. Ti hará! Pú na ítan áraye? Ton angáliasa.
The door suddenly opened; it was father. What a joy! But where was he? I hugged him.
What not to do when writing in Greek
Over the last years, the internet and smart phones have become an important part of our lives. As the need for communication through text messages has increased, this inevitably has affected the way Greeks type in their own language.
If you have any Greek friends in your social media, perhaps you've noticed that occasionally some of them might type Greek words using the English alphabet instead of the Greek. This hybrid is called "Greeklish," and it's a BAD habit that you should NOT make your own!
Γεια σου! --> Geia sou!
(Ya su! Hello!)
The excuse for this is that typing with English letters is much faster than typing in Greek because one doesn't have to add the accent marks. It also camouflages spelling mistakes.
Despite saving time, however, Greeklish makes reading a sentence much harder for Greeks, especially on longer texts. Sometimes reading too much Greeklish makes even native speakers forget how words are properly spelled. Overall, it gives a bad impression. The reason we're mentioning Greeklish is just in case you saw it somewhere and were wondering about it.
So if you are serious about learning how to read and write Greek, you should stick to the Greek alphabet and to proper writing!
But even when using the Greek alphabet, you might see other bad writing habits on the social media. For example, some people write in uppercase letters only or write normally but without ANY accent marks.
Τι κανεις;
Some people also seem to be using the English (?) question mark instead of the Greek one (;) or the English quotation marks ("") instead of the Greek ones («»). Please DO NOT DO any of those things when writing in Greek!
Τι κανεις?
OK. Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned the Greek alphabet and how the letters are written in relation to each other and to the line. You learned some basic punctuation marks as well as what bad writing habits you should absolutely avoid.
We've covered the very basics of Greek writing.
Check out our Greek Alphabet Made Easy series to learn more about the Greek alphabet, the letter combinations, the Greek punctuation, and how to handwrite each letter.
In the next lesson, you'll be entering Greek boot camp, where you'll learn useful beginner phrases to get you speaking Greek right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!
Γεια χαρά!