Rough and Smooth Breathing

Continuing with the sound system of classical Greek, we find an aspirated sound, read “h-“, made by an extra puff of air. Rather than indicating with another character, Greek employs a breathing mark (ʽ), called a rough breathing. It is placed above the first character in the word (or before the character, in the case of upper case letters).

Not all words that begin with a vowel require this rough breathing, of course. Those beginning with a vowel and not requiring aspiration always take a smooth breathing mark (ʼ). It is placed in the same way as the rough breathing mark.

As a rule, words beginning with upsilon (υ) always take a rough breathing. In addition, the character rho (ρ), when placed at the beginning of a word, always takes a rough breathing. This breathing is not actually pronounced. Rho is the only consonant that ever receives a breathing mark.

Examples:
Rough breathing: ὑπό, hupo (a preposition)
Smooth breathing: ἔργον, ergon (a work or deed)

Advertisements

About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
This entry was posted in Greek and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s