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Lesson Transcript

Iro: Γεια σας! Είμαι η Ηρώ.
Maria: Maria here! Pronunciation Series Lesson 2, on Greek double vowels.
Maria: Hello, and welcome to the Pronunciation lessons at GreekPod101.com, where we study modern Greek in a fun, educational format!
Iro: So brush up on the Greek that you started learning long ago, or start learning today.
Maria: Thanks for being here with us for this lesson. Iro, what are we looking at in this lesson?
Iro: Well, today, you will all work on your pronunciation of Greek double vowels.
Maria: Let's start by revisiting the seven vowels we went through last lesson.
Iro: Greek language has a total of seven vowels.
Maria: Of which most sound very similar to English.
Iro: Well, we share most of them with other languages, but, of course, English speakers, for example, have a really hard time pronouncing some of them.
Maria: And the vowels are…
Iro: "A" (άλφα), "E" (έψιλον), "H" (ήτα), "I" (γιώτα), "O" (όμικρον), "Y" (ύψιλον), "Ω"(ωμέγα).
Maria: And today we will have a look at what we call double vowels, also known as diphthongs.
Iro: Basically, two vowels put together to make a common sound.
Maria: In most languages, when you do this, the vowel sounds get blended together.
Iro: In Greek, though, there are certain double-vowel combinations that don't come out as you might imagine.
Maria: Okay, so how many diphthongs are there?
Iro: Just as there are seven vowels, there are seven diphthongs.
Maria: And how are they different from normal vowels?
Iro: Well, they are pronounced as one sound that sometimes can't be pronounced with one vowel. And keep in mind that vowel sounds in Greek are generally very soft, so you should always keep your mouth relaxed.
Maria: Okay, so enough explanation, let's get to them!
Iro: Okay, the first diphthong is "AI" (άλφα γιώτα).
Maria: This is "-A" (άλφα) and "-I" (γιώτα) put together to pronounce the sound [E] but longer.
Iro: Don't hesitate to exaggerate at first. But this sound is like the "-E" in "elephant."
Maria: "Elephant" or "angel."
Iro: Let's practice with the Greek word for "peak" ("αιχμή").
Maria: "Αιχμή".
Iro: "Αιχ-μή", "αιχμή".
Maria: Great, got it!
Iro: Next up is "EI" (έψιλον γιώτα), which consists of "-E" (έψιλον) and "-I" (γιώτα).
Maria: Okay, now there is another sound that's pronounced like [I].
Iro: Yes, it has the same sound as "-H" (ήτα).
Maria: And very similar to the sound in "Keith."
Iro: Yes, and it's one of the most common sounds in Greek.
Maria: And a common name in England.
Iro: Yes, so let's practice it with "είναι" the word for "is"/"are."
Maria: "Είναι".
Iro: "Εί-ναι"…"Είναι".
Maria: Piece of cake!
Iro: Well, all vowels and vowel diphthongs are actually sounds you have in English, so they shouldn't be too challenging.
Maria: Indeed, it just made me realize how much English has actually borrowed from Greek.
Iro: Exactly, so if you have a fairly good idea of how English sounds, Greek shouldn't be too tricky.
Maria: Mmm, well, I don't know about that.
Iro: I guess some people can do pronunciation better than others, and others can do grammar best, right?
Maria: That’s right. So what sound is up next?
Iro: "OI" (όμικρον γιώτα).
Maria: "OI"…yet another [I] sound…"οι".
Iro: Yeah. No difference here. Pronounced the same as "-H" and "EI."
Maria: Are there any other diphthongs that sound like "-H?"
Iro: Absolutely.
Maria: Great…What?
Iro: "YI" But you could kind of figure that out right, as it has "-Y" in it to begin with!
Maria: Uh huh…
Iro: But those are all the "-I" sounds, I promise!
Maria: Okay, so what sounds do we have left?
Iro: "AY" (άλφα ύψιλον), "EY" (έψιλον ύψιλον) and "OY" (όμικρον ύψιλον).
Maria: I see.
Iro: "AY" is "-A" and "-Y" put together and makes a similar sound to "sovereign," except before a voiceless consonant, in which case it's pronounced [ahf].
Maria: And do we have a Greek example?
Iro: Of course! "Αυγό".
Maria: "EGG!"
Iro: You're rather excited about eggs.
Maria: YES! Eggs are used in one of my favorite soups! "Αυγολέμονο".
Iro: Haha, ok, you're not sick, are you?
Maria: No, it's just a lovely chicken soup made with egg, lemon, and chicken stock!
Iro: Yeah, it is rather delicious.
Maria: Haha, you should be more happy about it!
Iro: Ok!
Maria: And so, "EGG!"
Iro: "Αυγό" ,"Αυ-γό".
Maria: "Αυγό".
Iro: Good. Next is "EY" (έψιλον ύψιλον).
Maria: Okay, what does it sound like?
Iro: It can either be the sound from "several" or "left."
Maria: And the currency "euro", which in Greek is pronounced as "ευρώ" has the same sound.
Iro: Yeah, that might be easy to remember.
Maria: "Ευρώ".
Iro: "Ευ-ρώ", "Ευρώ".
Maria: Last one coming up.
Iro: Αnd the most challenging one…"OΥ" (όμικρον ύψιλον). "-O" (όμικρον) and "-Υ" (ύψιλον) together.
Maria: Ah, yes, such a useful sound, but very tricky to get right.
Iro: Yeah, you have to relax your mouth but at the same time clench your lips to produce the sound "OY."
Maria: The closest I can think of is "food." It's slightly heavier on the "O" sound.
Iro: Yeah, you'll find that many Greek names have this sound. Especially women's names.
Maria: Yeah, women's surnames tend to end with "ου" and men's with "ος." It's a gender thing.
Iro: Yes. But let's practice it some more. Repeat after me, "ουρανός".
Maria: "Ουρανός". I know this! It means "sky!"
Iro: Sure does! "Ου-ρα-νός", "Ουρανός".
Maria: I guess English speakers find this sound kind of hard.
Iro: Yeah, I think this sound is more common in Latin languages like Spanish.
Maria: Yes. But, Spanish has crazy lisps though…Crazy…
Iro: Okay, thank you guys for listening to us yelling crazy, non-Spanish sounds!
Maria: And thank you for yelling with us!
Iro: That just about does it for today.
Maria: But, before we go, we want to tell you about a way to drastically improve your pronunciation.
Iro: The voice-recording tool...
Maria: Yes, the voice-recording tool in the premium learning center...
Iro: Record your voice with a click of a button,
Maria: and then play it back just as easily.
Iro: So you record your voice, and then listen to it.
Maria: Compare it to the native speakers...
Iro: And adjust your pronunciation!
Maria: This will help you improve your pronunciation fast!
Iro: Γεια σας!
Maria: Bye!


Please to leave a comment.
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GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 10:53 AM
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Hi Elisabeth,

Basically all female last names are versions of the masculine last names in the genitive case. The genitive case is the case that denotes to whom something belongs, among other things. It is usually translated as "of...".

The way female last names are produced happens because historically, women get their last names defined firstly by their father's last name and later on by the one of their husbands (if they want to).

For example:

Nominative - ο κύριος Ζαχαράτος / η κυρία (του) Ζαχαράτου

Genitive - του κυρίου Ζαχαράτου / της κυρίας (του) Ζαχαράτου

Accusative - τον κύριο Ζαχαράτο / την κυρία (του) Ζαχαράτου

Vocative - κύριε Ζαχαράτο / κυρία (του) Ζαχαράτου

So when a woman named Μαρία Ζαχαράτου says her full names, what she is actually saying is:

"Είμαι η Μαρία (του κυρίου) Ζαχαράτου." I'm Maria (of Mr) Zaharatos.

This female version from the masculine genitive shouldn't be treated as 'ownership.' It's more of a definition that you are the daughter OF [...] or that you are the wife OF [...]. This process is a grammatical one and it's the same either you are using your father's name or your husband's name. Women always get the genitive version.

So depending on the ending of the masculine last name, if you know its declension group (ex. -ος declension is different from -ης declension), you can figure out the masculine genitive form and hence the female form too.

Other examples:

ο Παπαδάκης / η Παπαδάκη

ο Νέγκας / η Νέγκα

ο Λεζές / η Λεζέ

ο Αλεξίου / η Αλεξίου

ο Πεσμαζόγλου / η Πεσμαζόγλου

Note that:

There are male names that end in -ου as well as female names that might end in -ους (ex. the famous actress Άννα-Μαρία Παπαχαραλάμπους). Also, female last names normally don't end in -ς unless they are foreign or they fall in the case I'll describe below.

While this is the case for Greeks within Greece, Greek descendants abroad, for example 2nd generation Greek Americans, usually get the masculine version of their father either they are men o women and it's not declinable. So you will see many women called Papadakis or Papadopoulos in the US instead of Papadaki or Papadopoulou because the language and registration process outside of Greece usually doesn't allow variations between female and male last names. You just get the identical last name of your father and that's it.

I hope I have covered you! Let me know if you still have any questions regarding names.



Team GreekPod101.com

Tuesday at 11:20 PM
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Hi. What they said about last names endings: ou for women and ous for men. But not all Greek last names are like that. What about the ones that end in -is. Is it the same? I wonder because I have also seen Greek females have last names ending in -is. Does it make a difference if the last name is the father's or the huband's? I have wondered about this for a while, so I am very grateful if you could tell me more about this. ?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 01:07 PM
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Hi Sky Laines,

Thank you for contacting us.

Is the PDF file properly imported on iBooks? If not, perhaps this tutorial might help you import the file:


In case you use a computer to download the PDF files, you could import them on iTunes and then sync them with your iOS device:


If the file is in the iBooks library already and you can't seem to access it for some reason, please report the technical issue on contactus@GreekPod101.com.

On a side note, since you mentioned you are a visual person and you are working on Greek pronunciation, I recommend you our video pronunciation series that contains very useful illustrations about the way vowels and consonants are pronounced in Greek:


Kind regards,


Team GreekPod101.com

Sky Laines
Thursday at 01:29 AM
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I'm very visual so I tried to download the lesson in IBooks but it wouldn't work! Why?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:30 AM
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Hi Antonieta!

Thank you for sharing this with us and for your kind words!

I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who might be thinking exactly the same way you used to, so your personal experience might help them start learning Greek with more confidence.

Keep it up!


Team GreekPod101.com

Antonieta Brito
Thursday at 08:08 AM
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When I start to have Greek lessons I imagine that it was very difficult to understand, but now I think I was wrong!!! To learn about grammar with this teachers is a very fun! I love it! Thanks a lot!

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:20 AM
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Hi Brian Jonson,

Thank you for posting!

The voice recorder is a feature available in all the lessons with the [2.Lesson Materials] section available, like this one.

From that section, you can access the feature by clicking on the microphone icon.

Please let us know if you need more help!:thumbsup:


Team GreekPod101.com

Brian Jonson
Tuesday at 12:49 AM
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I really love this site. Thank you

I keep hearing about the voice recorder tool. I am a Premium member but can't seem to find it on the website. Can you help?

Thank you

GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 04:11 PM
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Hi Caitlin,

I'm glad you asked! We have a whole video series dedicated to the Greek Alphabet. You will find it under:

Browse Lessons > Video Lessons > Absolute Beginner > Greek Alphabet Made Easy.

Here is a quick link to the series:


The best of luck, and please if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. We are here to help!


Team GreekPod101.com

Wednesday at 08:32 AM
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Is there a Greek alphabet anywhere on this website? I couldn't seem to find one...:sweat_smile::flushed::grin: