Greek alphabet  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

The Greek alphabet is a set of twenty-four letters that has been used to write the Greek language since the late 9th or early 8th century BCE. It is the first and oldest alphabet in the narrow sense that it notes each vowel and consonant with a separate symbol. It is as such in continuous use to this day. The letters were also used to represent Greek numerals, beginning in the 2nd century BCE.

The Greek alphabet is descended from the Phoenician alphabet, and is not related to Linear B or the Cypriot syllabary, earlier writing systems for Greek. It has given rise to many other alphabets used in Europe and the Middle East, including the Latin alphabet. In addition to being used for writing Modern Greek, its letters are today used as symbols in mathematics and science, particle names in physics, as names of stars, in the names of fraternities and sororities, in the naming of supernumerary tropical cyclones, and for other purposes.

Main letters

Below is a table listing the Greek letters, as well as their forms when romanized. The table also provides the equivalent Phoenician letter from which each Greek letter is derived. Pronunciations transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet.

The classical pronunciation given below is the reconstructed pronunciation of Attic in the late 5th and early 4th century BC. Some of the letters had different pronunciations in pre-classical times or in non-Attic dialects. For details, see History of the Greek alphabet and Ancient Greek phonology. For details on post-classical Ancient Greek pronunciation, see Koine Greek phonology.

Letter Corresponding
Name Transliteration1 Pronunciation Numeric
English Ancient
Template:Audio-nohelp Ancient
Α α Image:Phoenician aleph.svg Aleph Alpha Template:Polytonic άλφα a Template:IPA Template:IPA 1
Β β Image:Phoenician beth.svg Beth Beta Template:Polytonic βήτα b v Template:IPA Template:IPA 2
Γ γ Image:Phoenician gimel.svg Gimel Gamma Template:Polytonic γάμ(μ)α g gh, g, y Template:IPA Template:IPA 3
Δ δ Image:Phoenician daleth.svg Daleth Delta Template:Polytonic δέλτα d d, dh Template:IPA Template:IPA 4
Ε ε Image:Phoenician he.svg He Epsilon Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic έψιλον e Template:IPA 5
Ζ ζ Image:Phoenician zayin.svg Zayin Zeta Template:Polytonic ζήτα z Template:IPA(?) Template:IPA 7
Η η Image:Phoenician heth.svg Heth Eta Template:Polytonic ήτα e, ē i Template:IPA Template:IPA 8
Θ θ Image:Phoenician teth.svg Teth Theta Template:Polytonic θήτα th Template:IPA Template:IPA 9
Ι ι Image:Phoenician yodh.svg Yodh Iota Template:Polytonic (γ)ιώτα i Template:IPA Template:IPA 10
Κ κ Image:Phoenician kaph.svg Kaph Kappa Template:Polytonic κάπ(π)α k Template:IPA Template:IPA 20
Λ λ Image:Phoenician lamedh.svg Lamedh Lambda Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic λάμ(β)δα l Template:IPA 30
Μ μ Image:Phoenician mem.svg Mem Mu Template:Polytonic μι/μυ m Template:IPA 40
Ν ν Image:Phoenician nun.svg Nun Nu Template:Polytonic νι/νυ n Template:IPA 50
Ξ ξ Image:Phoenician samekh.svg Samekh Xi Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic ξι x x, ks Template:IPA 60
Ο ο Image:Phoenician ayin.svg 'Ayin Omicron Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic όμικρον o Template:IPA 70
Π π Image:Phoenician pe.svg Pe Pi Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic πι p Template:IPA 80
Ρ ρ Image:Phoenician res.svg Resh Rho Template:Polytonic ρω r, rh r Template:IPA, Template:IPA Template:IPA 100
Σ σ ς Image:Phoenician sin.svg Sin Sigma Template:Polytonic σίγμα s Template:IPA 200
Τ τ Image:Phoenician taw.svg Taw Tau Template:Polytonic ταυ t Template:IPA 300
Υ υ Image:Phoenician waw.svg Waw Upsilon Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic ύψιλον u, y y, v, f Template:IPA Template:IPA 400
Φ φ origin disputed
(see text)
Phi Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic φι ph f Template:IPA Template:IPA 500
Χ χ Chi Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic χι ch ch, kh Template:IPA Template:IPA 600
Ψ ψ Psi Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic ψι ps Template:IPA 700
Ω ω Image:Phoenician ayin.svg 'Ayin Omega Template:Polytonic Template:Polytonic ωμέγα o, ō o Template:IPA Template:IPA 800
  1. For details and different transliteration systems see Romanization of Greek.

Variant forms

Some letters can occur in variant shapes, mostly inherited from medieval minuscule handwriting. While their use in normal typography of Greek is purely a matter of font styles, some such variants have been given separate encodings in Unicode.

  • The symbol Template:Unicode ("curled beta") is a cursive variant form of beta (β). In the French tradition of Ancient Greek typography β is used word-initially Template:Unicode is used word-internally.
  • The letter epsilon can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped <math>\epsilon\,\!</math> ('lunate epsilon', like a semicircle with a stroke) or <math>\varepsilon\,\!</math> (similar to a reversed number 3). The symbol Template:Unicode (U+03F5) is designated specifically for the lunate form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol Template:Unicode ("script theta") is a cursive form of theta (θ), frequent in handwriting, and used with a specialized meaning as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol Template:Unicode ("kappa symbol") is a cursive form of kappa (κ), used as a technical symbol.
  • The symbol Template:Unicode ("variant pi") is an archaic script form of pi (π), also used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter rho (ρ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the descending tail either going straight down or curled to the right. The symbol Template:Unicode (U+03F1) is designated specifically for the curled form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter sigma, in standard orthography, has two variants: ς, used only at the ends of words, and σ, used elsewhere. The form Template:Unicode ("lunate sigma", resembling a Latin c) is a medieval stylistic variant that can be used in both environments without the final/non-final distinction.
  • The capital letter upsilon (Υ) can occur in different stylistic variants, with the upper strokes either straight like a Latin Y, or slightly curled. The symbol Template:Unicode (U+03D2) is designated specifically for the curled form, used as a technical symbol.
  • The letter phi can occur in two equally frequent stylistic variants, either shaped as <math>\textstyle\phi\,\!</math> (a circle with a vertical stroke through it) or as <math>\textstyle\varphi\,\!</math> (a curled shape open at the top). The symbol Template:Unicode (U+03D5) is designated specifically for the closed form, used as a technical symbol.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Greek alphabet" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools