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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Greek Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, we'll cover Greek assimilation.
WHAT IS ASSIMILATION?
In the previous lesson, we mentioned that assimilation is a process whereby a sound becomes more like a neighboring sound. It can occur either within a word or between words.
In this lesson, we will be examining more assimilation processes.
Unlike the ones we saw in the previous lesson, the processes that occur in this lesson are *not* optional, so you will need to pay special attention to these ones.
Let's start with the first case. The S sound in front of voiced consonants.
If you are wondering what voiced consonants are, those are the ones that create vibration in your vocal cords when you pronounce them. You can tell if a consonant is voiced if you put your finger on your throat when you pronounce them. If you feel a vibration, it is voiced.
In Greek, when the letter S precedes *any* of the voiced consonants, either at the beginning or even within a word, it is pronounced as a Z sound. Listen to Stefania...
"σβούρα
σγουρός
προσδιορίζω
της ζέβρας
κόσμος
δυσνόητος
Ισραήλ
σμπαράλια
τις μπότες
τους νταήδες
τους τζαζίστες"
An exception to this, is for the N sound. Although rare, sometimes it doesn't follow the above rule, for example...
"σνίτσελ
σνομπάρω
προσνήωση"
Another exception, is for the L sound. Sometimes a speaker may optionally choose to apply assimilation between word boundaries. Stefania will pronounce the following example normally at first and then with assimilation.
"καλός λόγος
καλός λόγος (with assimilation)"
Did you hear the difference? Let's move on.
Next we shall see some letter clusters that include this letter.
In these clusters, the first letter is not pronounced as it is normally, but rather as an N sound. Otherwise, it would be too difficult and unnatural for a Greek person to articulate. Let's hear some examples...
"έλεγξα
έλεγξα (slowly)
άγχος
άγχος (slowly)
ελεγκτής
ελεγκτής (slowly)"
Now, in the case of these double consonant combinations that we've studied in a previous lesson, we mentioned that they might behave unexpectedly in some words. Like in the following examples, their pronunciation is like the N we just saw rather than their normal G or NG sound.
"συγγνώμη
συγγραφέας
πλαγκτόν"
Since these words are exceptions and don't follow the rules we've learned, you'll just have to memorize their pronunciations individually.
Now let's move on and focus specifically on the ones that apply to double vowel combinations.
If you've watched our Greek Writing Series before, then you will already know that the first combination can be pronounced either as an A-V sound, like in the word 'aviation', or as an A-F sound, like in the word 'affection'.
The second combination works in the same way. It can be pronounced as an E-V sound like 'ever', or as an E-F sound like 'effect'.
The variations with the V sound in them are produced when the combinations come before a vowel or a voiced consonant. For example...
"αυ
παύω
Αύγουστος
αύριο
ευ
Εύα
ευλογώ
εφεύρεση"
The variations with the F sound in them are produced when the combinations come before an unvoiced consonant. For example...
"αυ
ναύτης
αυτός
επαυξάνω
ευ
ευχαριστώ
ανεύθυνος
ευκίνητος"
If you are wondering again what unvoiced consonants are, it's the consonants that do not create a vibration in your throat when pronounced. Instead they are the turbulent sounds that the movement of air makes as it passes through your teeth, tongue, throat, or lips.
What's important to mention here is that when the letters for the V and F sound come after this particular combination, then we don't pronounce two long V and F sounds, but just one normal V or F sound. Essentially, one of the V or F sounds are silenced. Listen to how Stefania pronounces the following words...
"Εύβοια
ευβοϊκός
εύφορος
εύφλεκτος"
Now that we've mentioned about assimilating identical sounds, there are two more cases where Greeks silence letters within a word.
The first case is silencing one of two identical consonant letters that are next to each other. Stefania will present you an example for each possibility.
"Σάββατο
εκκλησία
αλλοιώνω
έμμεσος
εννιά
παππούς
συρροή
θάλασσα
ελάττωμα"
The second case is silencing the P sound in the M-P-T cluster. This is optional though. Some people do pronounce it, while others don't. It depends on age, style and speed of speech, formality level or even dialect. The P sound is usually silenced in casual or fast speech, while it is pronounced in formal speech due to the need for better articulation. Listen to Stefania pronounce it both ways.
"άκαμπτος, άκαμπτος
άμεμπτος, άμεμπτος
Πέμπτη, Πέμπτη
πέμπτος, πέμπτος
σύμπτωμα, σύμπτωμα"
Were you able to tell which version had the silenced P? If you're thinking the second version, then you're right!
In this lesson, we covered assimilation in Greek.
In the next lesson, we'll review the material that we've covered in this series with a few quizzes.
Which assimilation proccess is the most difficult for you? Were there any tricks that helped you to learn them? Please comment and share your thoughts!
See you in the next Ultimate Greek Pronunciation Guide lesson!

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