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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Greek Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, we'll cover some assimilation processes in Greek.
This particular lesson will be all about seeing how pronunciation varies when words are pronounced closely together, so it's important that you listen carefully. Okay, let's begin.
WHAT IS ASSIMILATION?
Assimilation is simply the process whereby a sound is modified slightly to become more like a neighboring sound. It can occur either within a word or between words.
Take the English word 'handbag' for example. When we pronounce this word in rapid speech it doesn't sound like 'hand-bag', but 'hæm-bæɡ'. Another example is the phrase 'ten bucks', when said quickly it almost sounds like you're saying 'tem bucks'.
In this lesson we will be examining Greek words that end with an N sound and the assimilation processes that happen to words that follow them. They are however optional and will depend on age, speech style, formality level or even the dialect of the speaker.
What you're about to hear is closest to what you'll hear in casual, everyday speech. In formal speech though, for example in a news broadcast, such assimilation processes are avoided, because the speech there needs to be very clear.
So the scope of this lesson is to familiarize you with the idea of assimilation in Greek. Often times what you see in a book, may differ to what you hear in real life, everyday conversation.
Let's start first by seeing some very common words that end in an N sound.
"τον
την
των
αυτόν
αυτήν
έναν
δεν
μην
σαν"
When the following word begins with a vowel sound...
"τον άνθρωπο
την είδα
δεν έχω"
They are pronounced so closely together that it sounds as if they're a single word. This closeness due to speaking rapidly, is what causes assimilation to happen.
For example, when a word beginning with a K, P or T sound follows, these words would normally sound like this...
"τον κύριο
την παραλία
δεν τρώω"
However you will often hear people pronouncing these words as if they were like...
"τον κύριο (το γκύριο)
την παραλία (τη μπαραλία)
δεν τρώω (δε ντρώω)"
Did you notice the difference? It sounded as if the N sound disappeared and instead the K, P and T sounds changed into a G, B and D sound respectively.
In the case of a P sound following the final N, like in the second example we just saw, there can be the following variations as well...
"την παραλία (τημ παραλία)
την παραλία (τημ μπαραλία)"
Here it sounds as if the final N sound changed into an M sound while the next word sounds as if it begins with a P or a B sound respectively.
Remember, the words in the brackets are there just to give you a visual idea of how the pronunciation is when there's assimilation. It is *not* an alternative spelling. Assimilation does not affect the spelling, only the speech.
Let's see some examples with words that beginn with a G, B and a D sound following a word that ends with N. This is the normal pronunciation...
"τον γκρεμό
την μπάλα
δεν ντρέπομαι"
And this is the pronunciation with assimilation...
"τον γκρεμό (το γκρεμό)
την μπάλα (τη μπάλα)
την μπάλα (τημ μπάλα)
δεν ντρέπομαι (δε ντρέπομαι)"
Here the N sound simply disappears and in the third example, where the following word begins with a B sound, we saw that the N sound can also end up sounding like an M.
Next, let's look at what happens to words that begin with an X sound or PS sound. This is how they normally sound together...
"την ξύστρα
τον ψάλτη"
And this is how they sound with assimilation...
"την ξύστρα (τη γκσύστρα)
τον ψάλτη (το μπσάλτη)"
The first example will make sense if you think that the X sound in Greek can be also represented by a KS sound. As we saw before, when the final N interacts with a K sound it produces a G sound. So here we end up with a G sound followed by an S sound.
The same can be applied to the second example. As we saw above, when the final N interacts with a P sound it produces a B sound. So here we end up with a B sound followed by an S sound.
Okay. Let's look at one more assimilation example for this lesson. These happen when the word after the final N begins with the following double consonant combinations. Listen to the normal pronunciation.
"τον τσάκωσα
την τζαμαρία"
And this is the pronunciation with assimilation...
"τον τσάκωσα (το ντζάκωσα)
την τζαμαρία (τη ντζαμαρία)"
The N interacts with the T. As we saw at the beginning of this lesson N + T results in a D sound.
In the second example after the D sound is assimilated, the Z sound follows as normal, resulting in a DZ sound, like "pads". However in the first example, after the D is assimilated, the S that was supposed to follow actually turned into a Z sound, resulting in the same DZ sound again. What happened here is like a double assimilation. DS does not feel and sound as natural as DZ. It's the same for English, that's why the S in "pads" is a Z sound instead of an S sound. Without assimilation, the final result wouldn't sound natural to a Greek listener.
If you encounter these double consonant combinations right after the N sound *within* a word however, there's no assimilation. The preceding N sound is pronounced separately from the double consonant combination. Let's hear some examples...
"βίντσι
μπρούντζος
σκαντζόχοιρος
γάντζος
παντζάρι "
Congratulations! You are now familiar with the most common cases of assimilation in Greek and one step closer in making your Greek pronunciation sound natural. I hope you didn't find this lesson too difficult.
In the next lesson, we'll continue examining assimilation processes in Greek, so stay tuned for more.
Are there any assimilation proccesses in your language? Let us know by leaving a comment.
See you in the next Ultimate Greek Pronunciation Guide lesson!

15 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

GreekPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
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Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 07:39 AM
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Hi An,


Chinese, uh?😞


You don't need to learn these things right away. This lesson is intended for those who want to perfect their pronunciation. However, I hope these assimilation lessons give you a good idea about some phonetic phenomena in Greek speech. These will probably answer questions you might have about why some words might sound different from what they are written.


If all this is too hard for you now, perhaps you can rewatch these videos at a later point. These lessons can be beneficial for students of all levels so it's not imperative that you learn them early if they seem difficult.


Anyhow, if you ever have any questions at all about the pronunciation of words, you can always leave me a comment and I'll get back to you :)


Kind regards,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

An
Monday at 10:57 PM
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This is like Chinese for me, not Greek :( :)

GreekPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 02:23 PM
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Hi Amanda,


Yes, of course they'll understand you as long as your Greek is OK. Like it is mentioned in the video, these assimilations are optional even for Greeks, so don't worry!


Regards,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

Amanda
Saturday at 01:20 AM
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If I are not fluent in greek and don't speak with these assimilations will people still understand me?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:13 AM
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Hi Michel,


I understand there are a lot to take in with this lesson. Perhaps using a slower playback speed might help. And of course watching the video a few times and even keeping notes. Unless you are very fluent and want to sound like a native Greek, I think for a beginner learner it's not really necessary to memorize all the possibilities. Just getting familiar with the concept of assimilation through the examples presented in this lesson is enough as it will help you understand why sometimes you hear something being pronounced slightly differently from the way it is written. With practice and by observing this phenomenon in existing dialogues you'll get the hang of it ? . So no worries!


All the best,


Stefania

Team GreekPod101.com

Michel
Tuesday at 10:42 PM
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trying to keep up

GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:42 PM
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Hi Elisabeth,


Thank you for your message.

Have a great day!


Cheers,

Lena

Team GreekPod101.com

Elisabeth
Monday at 05:19 PM
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Thank you, Nektarios, that helped a lot! ?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:45 PM
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Hey Elisabeth,


Thank you for your question.


Let me give you some simple examples with the hope that you will catch the difference point. If you don't, though, please feel free to ask again.


Δε θα πάω στο πάρτυ. [De tha páo sto párti] (I won't go to the party)

Δεν έφαγες. [Den éfayes] (You didn't eat)

Δεν έπρεπε να αγοράσει καινούρια τηλεοράση. [Den éprepe na agorási kenúrya tileorási] (He shouldn't buy new television)


Μην έρθεις απόψε! [Min érthis apópse] (Don't come today)

Μη φας! [Mi fas] (Don't eat)

Μην αγοράσεις καινούρια τηλεόραση! [Min agorásis kenúrya tileórasi] (Don't buy new television)


So, δε(ν) and μη(ν) both show negation, a negative meaning, but μη(ν) is used exclusively when using the subjunctive and imperative mood (in Greek we usually use the exclamation mark), while δε(ν) is used with indicative mood.

**The existence or absence of final "ν" depends on the first letter of the next word.**


If you need any further information or extra examples, please let us know.


All the best,

Nektarios

Team GreekPod101.com

Elisabeth
Thursday at 09:53 PM
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Is there a lesson that explains the difference between den and min?