Greek Vowels and Diphthongs

Classical Greek makes use of 7 vowels to represent 10 distinct sounds. For a review of the characters and transliterations, check out the Greek alphabet here. These vowels can be divided into the classifications “long” and “short”:

short:  α   ε   ι   υ   ο 
long:  ᾱ   η   ῑ   ῡ   ω 

Note: The line drawn above alpha, iota and upsilon is not found in actual Greek text. Rather, it is a means of indicating that a particular character is pronounced either long or short, found in many Greek study materials.

In addition, vowels can be combined to make a number of diphthongs, groupings of vowels pronounced as a single sound:

Diphthong  Transliteration Sounds Like… 
αι ai the English pronoun “I”
αυ au how
ει ei May
ευ eu glide from ε to υ
ηυ ēu glide from η to υ
υι ui wick
οι oi boy
ου ou root

With diphthongs found at the beginning of words, the breathing mark is placed above the second letter in the set. This is a modification of my comment to place it over the first character, as stated in this blog entry.

About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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